Plymouth healthcare workers balloted for strike action

Staff performing these more complex duties should be on salary band 3, which is almost £2,000 a year more

Health care workers lobby outside the Derriford Centre for Health and Wellbeing demanding fair pay for patient care.

Hundreds of workers including healthcare assistants, maternity care assistants and clinical support workers at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth are being balloted for strike action over pay, says UNISON.

The healthcare workers, who provide vital support to nurses and other clinical staff, are demanding fair pay that reflects the important role they play in patient care. Many are paid just above minimum wage despite taking on increasing responsibilities.

According to NHS guidance, healthcare assistants on salary band 2 should only be providing personal care such as bathing and feeding patients.

However, the support staff are routinely undertaking clinical tasks, such as taking and monitoring blood, performing electrocardiogram tests, and inserting cannulas, says UNISON.

The guidance says staff performing these more complex duties should be on salary band 3, which is almost £2,000 a year more.

UNISON is calling for the health workers to be moved to the correct higher grade and to receive back pay for their previous work, according to how long they have worked at the hospital.

UNISON says others NHS trusts around the UK have moved healthcare assistants up to the correct salary band and agreed deals on back pay. Somerset NHS Foundation Trust recently regraded its health support staff and provided back pay as far back as March 2017 in some cases.

The ballot closes on Tuesday 28 May 2024.

UNISON South West regional secretary Kerry Baigent said:“It’s time University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust followed the lead of other trusts and paid its healthcare assistants fairly.

“Staff are not prepared to have their hard work undervalued. If the trust continues to refuse to pay them properly then the health workers will be left with little option but to consider strike action.

“Managers should do the right thing now and avoid risking needless disruption for patients.”