Health workers across Teesside win long-fought dispute over grading and back pay

Hundreds of healthcare assistants are to receive a substantial wage rise and back pay after their campaign to achieve fair pay brought the employers to the negotiating table

Hundreds of healthcare assistants are to receive a substantial wage rise and back pay after their campaign to achieve fair pay brought the employers to the negotiating table.

Staff working for North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were due to walk out for a fifth time earlier this month but strikes were suspended when the trusts agreed to talk with the union.

The Teesside NHS staff have been campaigning for months to be paid a wage reflecting the work they’ve been doing, along with the fair back pay they deserve, says UNISON.

Healthcare assistants have been paid at band 2 of the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale, despite increasingly carrying out clinical tasks that should be paid at the higher band 3 rate.

​UNISON has been pressing NHS trusts through its Pay Fair for Patient Care campaign to ensure staff wages reflect the duties they perform, along with back pay for the work they’ve already done.

​Negotiations for the Teesside workers resulted in an improved offer, including an increased level of compensation for the years they were paid at the lower grade.

​The union consulted staff on the improved offer, which has been overwhelmingly accepted, bringing the dispute to an end.

UNISON Northern regional secretary Clare Williams said: “It’s great to see staff fairly compensated after a hard-fought campaign. These healthcare assistants have been working above their pay band for many years.

​“It should never have come to strike action but it’s good the trusts returned to negotiations and agreed the back pay staff deserved.

​“The union will now work with the trusts to get health workers their money as soon as possible.”

UNISON North Tees & Hartlepool Health branch secretary Michael Swinbourne said: “Myself and colleagues in both branches have supported UNISON healthcare assistants to stand up against this pay injustice for several years now.

“It is therefore incredibly pleasing to see healthcare assistants are now being recognised and rewarded for their hard work and dedication.”

Michelle Cook, Healthcare Assistant at James Cook University Hospital, South Tees said: “Getting this new deal is a huge relief. It’s  the wage rise and fair back pay we deserve.

​“We just wanted to get paid fairly for the work we do and recognised for how long we’ve been doing much more complicated and involved tasks.”

​“Staff are happy the trust agreed to talk to us. Now we can get back to doing what we love – looking after patients.”