Leicester healthcare staff back strike action in pay row

Hundreds of healthcare assistants at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) have voted for strike action in a row over pay.

Healthcare assistants at Leicester General Hospital, Glenfield Hospital and Leicester Royal Infirmary are set to walk out unless hospital managers improve an offer on back pay. Across the trust, 94.46% backed strike action.

According to NHS guidance, healthcare assistants on salary band 2 of the Agenda for Change pay scale should only be providing personal care, such as bathing and feeding patients.

However, most of the healthcare assistants have routinely undertaken clinical tasks, such as taking blood, performing electrocardiogram tests and inserting cannulas, says UNISON.

UHL have accepted staff perform the more complex duties and have offered to move them up to salary band 3. However, they are refusing to fairly compensate the healthcare assistants for their underpaid work and meet the union’s demand of back pay covering the period to 2018.

UNISON East Midlands head of health Gareth Eales said: “Healthcare assistants want to continue providing exceptional care to people across Leicester. However, they need to be fairly paid for their work.

“The majority of healthcare assistants have been working well above their salary band for years. It’s time the Trust did the right thing and paid them properly for that work.”

Katarzyna, a healthcare assistant at Leicester Royal Infirmary said: “The current back pay offer does not adequately compensate healthcare assistants for the years they worked without being paid properly. All we are asking for is to be fairly paid for the work we have done. No one wants to strike, but staff are determined to get what they deserve.”

Notes to editors:
– Strike dates have yet to be set.
– Band 2 clinical support workers should only undertake personal care duties, according to NHS guidance.
– So far UNISON has won £37m for healthcare assistants and other support workers through its Pay Fair for Patient Care campaign. More information on the campaign is available here.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

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