Around 200 clinical support workers and healthcare assistants at Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester recently launched a collective grievance over their pay. The workers are demanding to be re-graded to NHS band 3 and backpaid to April 2018. They argue that they are doing the same job as their counterparts who are already on band 3, and so should be paid the same.
The workers handed their complaint to NHS trust bosses at the Salford Royal Hospital, and were joined online by many others at hospitals in Oldham, Rochdale and Fairfield. The trust has said that it is “disappointed” that the workers have taken this action, but that it is committed to “engaging positively” with them. A spokesman for the trust said that a final decision on the matter will be made by the end of October.
The workers’ demand for equal pay is just one example of the increasing pressure that NHS staff are under. In recent years, there have been reports of record levels of staff sickness, burnout and stress. Many staff are working excessive hours just to keep up with demand. This situation is only likely to get worse as the NHS faces further funding cuts in the years ahead.
Sandra, a band 2 clinical support worker at Salford, was furious with the trust. “In May, I had to sell my car as I could no longer afford it,” she told bosses. “I now cycle to work. I wake up at 4.20am, I leave my home at 5am and cycle 11.79 miles to work.
“During my shift I will get phone calls asking me to do things like ECGs and taking bloods. I don’t say, ‘No, I’m sorry I don’t get paid enough”. I don’t say, ‘No, I’m sorry I’m not a band 3”, I say “Yes of course I will. What bloods do you need?”
“I leave work at 7pm. I get changed and cycle the 11.79 miles home again. I usually get home around 8.30pm. I then get up the next day at 4.20am to do it all again—because I don’t get paid enough for the job I do.”
Unison union reps then handed over 900 staff signatures demanding change and asked NHS trust boss Owen Williams also to sign it. “Colleagues want me to sign something. I don’t feel I need to sign a pledge,” he replied.
Unison members then started chanting, “Sign it! Sign it! Sign it!” Williams signed the pledge.
At the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust workers are also demanding fair banding and fair pay.
One worker told us that specialist decontamination staff have sent a group petition calling on managers to give them the appropriate band and pay back money for the money they have lost from being wrongly banded. The worker said: “It is essential that employees are paid the correct rate for their position, as this not only provides a sense of fairness and justice in the workplace, but also helps to motivate and encourage staff. That is why it is so important that management listen to our concerns and address the issue of our pay rates. We simply want to be paid at the right rate for the job we do, and if we are unable to persuade management to see our point of view, we may have no choice but to escalate the matter. We hope that it does not come to this, and that management will take our concerns seriously and provide us with the fair compensation we deserve.”