North East NHS workers to stage third round of strikes next week over pay

Healthcare assistants striking in Northallerton in April Credit: MICHAEL ROBINSON <i>(Image: Michael Robinson)</i>
Healthcare assistants striking in Northallerton in April Credit: MICHAEL ROBINSON (Image: Michael Robinson)

North East NHS workers will be staging another set of strikes as disputes over wage rates and back pay continue.

UNISON has confirmed healthcare assistants employed by North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will be carrying out more strike action from Monday (May 20).

The strikes will last until Saturday (May 25) morning – and is the latest action taken since their 24-hour strike in March and 72-hour stoppage in April.

The strike action will see staff continue to campaign to move to a wage band which “more accurately reflects” their work and secure a “fair” back pay settlement.

UNISON Northern regional secretary Clare Williams said: “Once again staff are being been forced into this unavoidable strike action because the trust won’t negotiate, this time for five days.​

“Put simply, hundreds of low-paid workers across Teesside, mainly women, are being denied money they’re owed.

"The trusts have saved a fortune through their failure to reward workers properly and their goodwill has worn thin. Staff feel hurt that their employers have little interest settling this dispute.​

“The healthcare assistants are not backing down and they’re determined to get what they deserve. Both trusts need to do what's right to avoid permanent damage to the relationship with their workforce.”

The walkout in April saw hundreds of staff take part across seven sites at the two trusts.

A spokesperson for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "The role healthcare assistants play on our wards and in the community is much valued by our colleagues and patients.

“We have worked closely with trade union colleagues to move our healthcare assistants to the higher grades where applicable in line with the national profile and have committed to back pay dating back to July 2021.

“Patients are asked to attend any appointments as usual, unless we contact them to reschedule.

“Urgent and emergency care will be prioritised to ensure those in life-threatening emergencies can receive the best possible care. People can help us to keep A&E free to treat the most serious conditions by accessing help from NHS 111 online for non-life-threatening medical issues.”

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​​UNISON said it has repeatedly asked the trusts to negotiate a resolution to the dispute, but that they have refused to do so.​

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

The union said most of the healthcare assistants have routinely undertaken clinical tasks normally done by those on band 3, such as taking blood, performing electrocardiogram tests and inserting cannulas. ​