Harrogate District Hospital offers staff chance to sell leave amid cost of living crisis

Hospital ward
Harrogate District Hospital has also set up a hardship fund to help staff struggling with rising costs.

Hospital staff are selling off their annual leave to combat rising costs, it has been revealed.

Harrogate District Hospital is allowing workers to trade in days off for extra payment until the end of the year. A total of 17 staff have so far applied.

Jonathan Coulter, chief executive of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said he had "always been against" staff selling annual leave, but that the cost of living crisis had made the offer "absolutely vital".

He added: "My justification for this is that the financial position of some staff is putting them under more stress than the benefit of having a holiday."

The hospital has also set up a hardship fund offering grants of up to £500 to help with soaring costs, which 271 people have already applied for.

Wallace Sampson, a hospital trust board member and chief executive of Harrogate Borough Council, said he believes annual leave is "very much needed" to help with staff's wellbeing.

In response, Mr Coulter said staff could only sell up to five days of annual leave, allowing them time to take holiday.

He said: "There is an absolute maximum of five days, so staff can't sell all of their annual leave.

"We have agreed the policy for this year as a one-off, partly recognising that people have a lot of annual leave because of Covid.

"We will need to review the initiatives, but at the moment they are absolutely vital."

The initiative comes as the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) announced its members would vote on possible strike action after rejecting a 4% pay increase.

Others, including GMB and Unison, are also said to be preparing to ballot members.

Dr Suzanne Tyler, executive director at the RCM, said: "Our members have spoken and just like us they believe a below inflation pay award is not good enough. They deserve more.

"The results and turnout speaks volumes about the feelings of a fragile, exhausted and undervalued workforce, because taking industrial action is always the very last resort for midwives and maternity staff.

"They obviously now see no other alternative to getting a fair and just pay award from their governments."

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