Society of Radiographers holds ‘positive talks’ with new health minister for England

On 19 December, senior SoR officials Dean Rogers and Leandre Archer met with Andrew Stephenson MP to discuss ongoing pay dispute

Published: 21 December 2023 Trade Union & IR

The Society of Radiographers has held ‘positive talks’ with England’s new health minister, Andrew Stephenson MP.

On Tuesday, 19 December, senior SoR officialsDean Rogersand Leandre Archer met with Mr Stephenson to discuss the ongoing pay dispute over pay and the radiography workforce crisis. 

The SoR said that while the talks did not resolve the dispute between the Society and the Department of Health and Social Care, the minister acknowledged the challenging working conditions for radiographers, and agreed to further talks in early 2024. 

Mr Stephenson, MP for Pendle, was appointed as Minister of State for Health and Secondary Care in November by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, alongside Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Victoria Atkins

Increased awareness

Executive director of industrial strategy for the SoR, Dean Rogers, said: “We remain in dispute because there are still not enough radiographers and our members are still not being given the pay and recognition they deserve. The same can be said of all Allied Health Professionals, but our action has increased awareness and understanding of the central importance of addressing the radiography crisis.

“No-one else can function effectively without addressing the radiography workforce crisis. These discussions reflected this progress on understanding why radiographers matter.”  

The key areas that will be discussed in further meetings are: 

  • Meeting the staffing requirements for the Community Diagnostic Centre programme without stripping out the acute workforce
  • Measures to support training and development in the NHS, using evidence from SoR’s Workplace Experience Survey which shows a perception that accessing these is easier in the independent sector
  • Specific recommendations about making the radiography workforce safer
  • What additional resources and support are needed to protect new professionals, international recruits and anyone relocating so their moves into the NHS are more sustainable
  • Other measures that could specifically increase retention across diagnostic and therapeutic radiography

These additional talks will happen whilst the SoR is also engaged in the series of collective negotiations around non-pay related elements of the 2023-24 award:

  • The future pay setting process for the NHS in England
  • Controlling and minimising agency spend
  • Support for newly qualified registrants
  • Reducing violence and aggression at work
  • Safe staffing levels
  • Reviewing the job evaluation process to support and sustain increased effectiveness

Working with other unions 

Mr Rogers added: “In early January we will be putting forward our evidence to the Pay Review Body for more pay and reward, and working with other unions to push for a fair and sensible settlement. How much money is put forward will dictate whether we can resolve our dispute or if further action in 2024 is necessary.”

The SoR also understands that the government is planning a full consultation on the idea of a single pay spine for nurses separate to Agenda for Change in England, starting in January. The SoR has already informed the Minister it will be 100 per cent opposed to this idea, viewing it as divisive and unnecessary.  

SoR head of industrial relations, Leandre Archer, told Mr Stephenson: “Our members share the same frustrations as many in the nursing profession who have seen their pay fall behind the rest of the economy, and barriers in place that prevent access to training, career development and career progression. 

“However, splitting off nurses would be destructive. Agenda for Change needs additional support and reinforcement but it can be made to work. Collapsing the structure isn’t necessary and presents real dangers for recruitment and retention. We need to work together to find a solution that accommodates and addresses everyone’s concerns, rather than risk turning professions against each other and adding further chaos into the running of the NHS.” 

The SoR will monitor this proposed consultation and during January, will further advise members and representatives on how they can reinforce evidence to any consultation. 

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)