Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust staff strike over pay

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS TrustMore than 350 employees at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust have begun two days of strike action today (Tuesday) in a dispute over pay.

The workers, who are members of trade union Unison, are employed at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, Crawley Hospital and Horsham Hospital. They provide support to nurses and other clinical staff.

They are currently employed on band two of the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale and earn £22,383 annually, meaning they should only carry out personal care tasks such as bathing or feeding patients, according to NHS guidance.

However, the workers claim they regularly undertake clinical tasks including inserting cannulas, carrying out electrocardiogram tests or taking blood samples, which should be paid at the higher band three rate, between £22,816 and £24,336 after two years in the job.

A total of 98% of members voted for strike action in a formal ballot last month. A picket line will be in place outside East Surrey Hospital from 7am today and tomorrow, while additional strike dates have been set for Thursday 25 and Friday 26 July.

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Tina Hetherington, chief nurse at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “While we are working round the clock to minimise disruption and care for all those who need us throughout this period of localised industrial action, our services are likely to be very busy.”

Rachel Slaughter, regional organiser at Unison South East, added: “Across the south east, low-paid healthcare staff are working together for fair pay and recognition. These dedicated workers provide incredible care for patients, over and above their job description. They’ve done this for years because they’re proud of the work they do. Staff have seen others in a similar position across the country recognised for their extra work and mustn’t be left behind. Industrial action is a last resort. Trust bosses must get back around the table so future strike action can be averted.”