HC Deb 22 February 1980 vol 979 cc596-7W
Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will make a statement about the pay and conditions of laboratory scientific officers in the National Health Service; and if he is satisfied with the present procedures and agreements;

(2) why he has imposed new call-out payment scales for medical laboratory scientific officers and instructed health authorities to withdraw from any local agreements which exceed these; if he is satisfied with the adequacy of call-out payment scales; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Vaughan

The rates of payment to medical laboratory scientific officers in the National Health Service for undertaking emergency duties fall to be negotiated nationally in the professional and technical staffs "B" Whitley council. Health authorities are required, under regulations, to observe the terms approved by Health Ministers following such negotiations. While negotiations were proceeding the union mainly concerned, ASTMS, pressed authorities to enter into local agreements at high rates which could be met only by reducing other services to patients. After protracted negotiations, the two sides of the council failed to agree on revised rates, and at the specific request of the management side and following the staff side's withdrawal from negotiations, my right hon. Friend authorised authorities to pay the rates offered by the management side. Authorities were also told that they should not enter into and, if necessary, should withdraw from, any local agreements which conflicted with the authorised terms. The new rates involve increases of over 24 per cent. in expenditure and supplement agreed increases in basic pay averaging about 25 per cent. and a reduction in conditioned hours worth about 2½ per cent.; they are patently reasonable within the cash limit. The present arrangements for emergency duties are by no means satisfactory and I regret that the management side's requests to review the agreement have so far been rejected by the staff side.