Plymouth healthcare workers to strike for two days next week

The 48 hour strike will begin at midnight on Monday 17 June

Hundreds of healthcare workers at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth are to take two days of strike action next week, UNISON today (Thursday).

Healthcare assistants, maternity care assistants, imaging care assistants and clinical support workers at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust will walk out from midnight on Monday 17 June for 48 hours.

The workers, who provide vital support to nurses and other clinical staff, are demanding fair pay that better reflects their important role in patient care. Despite their responsibilities increasing, this has not been recognised by the employer nor have they been paid properly, UNISON adds.

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

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

The NHS guidance says staff performing these more complex duties should be on salary band 3, which is almost £2,000 a year more. The long service of many of the staff means they should be at the top of that band, says the union.

UNISON is calling for the health workers to be moved to the correct grade and to receive back pay for their previous work, based on how long they’ve worked at the hospital.

UNISON says other NHS trusts have already moved healthcare assistants to the correct salary band and agreed deals on back pay. For example, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust recently regraded its health support staff, awarding back pay to March 2017 in some cases.

But University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust has refused to draw up a similar agreement, despite a collective grievance signed by hundreds of staff.

Instead, the trust has offered just six months of back pay. This would mean these employees receiving thousands of pounds less than those in other South West trusts.

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

“Staff are not prepared to have their hard work undervalued and have been left with no choice but to take industrial action.

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