TORBAY health chiefs will reap the benefits of not joining a controversial move to introduce regional pay for NHS workers, say critics.
Lib-Dem MP for Torbay Adrian Sanders branded the proposals by 20 health trusts across the South West to impose longer working hours for staff, and cuts to salary and leave 'a big error' which would break up the national service.
He welcomed that neither Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust nor South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Torbay Hospital, had joined the consortium, and predicted they would benefit from higher morale and productivity as a result.
Former GP-turned-MP for Totnes Dr Sarah Wollaston, who sits on the Commons Health Select Committee, also opposed any move that would lead to wage cuts for health workers in the region.
She said the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium had to take account of housing affordability and staff recruitment.
Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Devon Partnership NHS Trust are among those signed up to the group, which has been branded a 'cartel' by critics.
Unions have accused the trusts of undermining staff morale and patient care.
Mr Sanders said: "I think they are making a big error and breaking up what is a national health service."
He was pleased the Bay's health trusts were 'not going down this route'.
"I think they will benefit from staff morale and higher productivity as a consequence of not joining the consortium," he said.
Dr Wollaston said: "I would not support any move to cut NHS staff wages in the South West.
"There are real issues with housing affordability and staff recruitment which the alliance must recognise."
Staff in the Bay who work in mental health care for Devon NHS Partnership Trust will be affected and unions estimate this may be as many as 750 workers.
Tanya Palmer of Unison's South West region said: "The trade unions are well aware of the challenging financial times and the intense pressures on the NHS, but rogue employers involved in the consortium are risking the chance of reaching a national agreement. They are also undermining staff morale, stable industrial relations, staff recruitment and retention and, ultimately, patient care.
"The reality of these proposals are about pay cuts, the consequences for the region will be disastrous and will result in skilled health workers being driven out of the region, taking money out of the local economy and deepening the healthcare postcode lottery."