NHS healthcare assistants in Northamptonshire strike over pay

By Kate Bradbrook & Shariqua AhmedBBC News, Northamptonshire

Kate Bradbrook / BBC Leanne Weatherly looking into the camera from the strike Kate Bradbrook / BBC

Leanne Weatherly joined the picket line at Kettering General Hospital

Hundreds of healthcare assistants at two NHS trusts walked out on Tuesday in a row over pay.

Staff at the Kettering General Hospital, Leicester General Hospital, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Glenfield Hospital and Northampton General Hospital have begun three days of strike action.

Leanne Weatherley, the Unison branch secretary at Kettering General Hospital, said she was “standing in solidarity with fellow [healthcare assistants] who should be recognised and paid fairly”.

Richard Mitchell, the chief executive of University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group, which run all five hospitals, declined to comment.

Kate Bradbrook/ BBC Staff holding placards that read 'Pay Now'Kate Bradbrook/ BBC

About 50 people were striking at the picket line outside the Kettering General Hospital

According to NHS guidance, healthcare assistants on a band two salary of the organisation’s pay scale should only be providing personal care, such as bathing and feeding patients.

It is reported, however, that most of the healthcare assistants have routinely undertaken clinical tasks, such as performing electrocardiogram tests.

Unison has campaigned for healthcare assistants to be regraded to a band three salary, and receive appropriate back pay for the clinical roles undertaken by them up to 2018.

Unison East Midlands  NHS staff protesting outside the hospital with boards and signs Unison East Midlands

NHS staff striking on Tuesday said they were “angry” and want better recognition

Ms Weatherly said: “We are very angry… we are talking [about a] significant amount of money.

“Bosses are not negotiating and the deal they are offering doesn’t value the healthcare assistants.

“Our whole being is welfare of our patients. But, without recognising our staff we will be in trouble. The healthcare assistants are the backbone of the NHS.”

Chris Jenkinson, Unison East Midlands regional secretary, said: “It’s time for the chief executive to realise these NHS workers are in no mood to back down. He should make the healthcare assistants a reasonable offer that addresses years of historical pay inequality.”

The strike action is being held from 4 to 7 June from 07:00 BST to 14:30 each day.

The chief executive of University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group declined to comment.

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