Northamptonshire’s healthcare assistants demand pay justice

Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) at Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust and Kettering General Hospital Foundation NHS Trust are demanding the correction of a historic issue that results in them being underpaid for clinical work they are routinely expected to undertake.

This is part of UNISON’s Pay Fair for Patient Care campaign, which has seen HCAs in other NHS Trusts across the country moved up a pay scale and rewarded with significant levels of backpay.

Healthcare support staff work as part of the dedicated NHS team to deliver quality patient care. Over the years the role has evolved and expand to take on more responsibilities, but without the pay and recognition to match. While many healthcare support staff are on band 2 pay, paid to undertake personal care tasks like feeding and bathing, many are performing clinical duties and patient observations – tasks which fall under Band 3 of the NHS Agenda for Change pay scales. Tasks like; taking bloods, patient observations, monitoring blood glucose, taking blood pressure, removal of catheters, removal of peripheral cannulas – among others.

To remedy this UNISON is calling for:

  • An uplift from NHS Band 2 to Band 3 for HCAs at UHL .
  • Immediate placement at the top of Band 3 for those assessed at this level with two or more years of service.
  • Back-pay dated to 1 April 2018, factoring in all additional hours and other payments.

The University Hospitals of Northamptonshire Group (which incorporates both NGH & KGH) are offering a fraction of this, which has caused widespread anger among the HCA workforce, who last week came together with workplace meetings which resulted in many marching upon the Chief Executives office to hand deliver a collective grievance / pay claim signed by nearly 800 HCAs / UNISON members.

UNISON regional organiser Dave Limer said: “We had two fantastic meetings with healthcare assistants, theatre support workers and maternity support workers in our claim for back pay and rebanding. These members have supported us in delivering the collective grievance, which has been signed by 800 healthcare assistants across both sides.

“That is absolutely fantastic. UNISON’s Pay Fair for Patient Care campaign pay claim was officially lodged last October. We want all Band 2 HCAs rebanding to Band 3. Through our survey and our research, it’s shown that Band 2 healthcare assistants are already and have been performing Band 3 duties, some of them for many years. Yet the offer currently on the table from the Trusts can only be described as paltry and unacceptable.

“I think today our members have sent a clear message to the University Hospital of Northamptonshire Group, they need to get serious and make an amicable offer to our healthcare assistants. Otherwise, we’ll be escalating this dispute.”

A local HCA and UNISON member said: “We’ve always gone above and beyond what our band states. Throughout the years, it’s been added to more and more. There’s more pressure, to be honest, we could be nurses without the medications given. We say to the Trusts give us fair pay, please take us very seriously, because we won’t stop until we win.”