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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

NHS pay battles

by New Worker correspondent

AT CHORLEY and South Ribble Hospital and the Royal Preston Hospital in Lancashire biomedical scientists busy with COVID-19 testing are up in arms over about £7,000 per annum because bosses are refusing to pay ‘the going rate for the job’. The 13 scientists are being balloted for strike action or industrial action short of a strike next week.

The dispute is about the scientists being held back on Band-5 despite qualifying for Band-6 (just under £38,000 per year) due to having worked unsupervised for several years. This, their union Unite says, is leading to a rapid turn-over of staff at the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. They are voting with their feet and moving to other trusts in the region, which pay the correct NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay rate.

Unite regional officer Keith Hutson said: “Our biomedical scientists have had years of training and are highly skilled but are not paid a fortune. They are in the frontline of carrying COVID-19 related tests once patients are admitted to hospital.

“Yet, we have a hard-line trust management that is not prepared to pay ‘the going rate for the job’ for essential NHS workers at a time of national emergency.

“This issue has been dragging on for over a year. At the start of the pandemic earlier this year, our members, as an act of good faith, put this dispute on the backburner.

“When the number of infections dropped in the summer, we raised this issue again – but have been met by a brick wall from a skinflint management. Our members are being ripped off and short-changed which is not a great advert for this trust.

“The result is that we have a retention crisis at the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as our members are voting with their feet and move to trusts, such as in Blackpool and Blackburn, which appreciate their skills and dedication during this challenging time for the NHS – and pay the proper rate for the job.”

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is also fighting a pay battle on behalf of its 450,000 members.

It is launching a campaign to get people to get their MPs to ask Chancellor Rishi Sunak to commit to a fully funded 12.5 per cent pay award in the government’s spending review at the end of November.

The RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: “Even though nursing staff have tackled a global pandemic with 50,000 nursing vacancies across the UK, the government continues to undervalue them. It can’t hope to fill staffing shortages with our current poor pay levels.

“We are not asking for a COVID-19 bonus – paying nursing staff fairly is a political choice. Cash-strapped health services can’t increase pay on their existing budgets. The Chancellor must make the right decision.”

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