NHS clinical support staff on the Wirral end strike action over backdated pay

0404NHS wirral strike
The strike action on the Wirral was first of kind in the country Credit: ITV news

Strikes at two hospitals on the Wirral have come to an end after support workers secured back pay and grading.

The union Unison said clinical support workers (CSWs) at Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have agreed a deal with the trust that should see more than 600 workers receive a wage rise and back pay to April 2018.

The deal follows a long campaign, during which workers at Arrowe Park and Clatterbridge hospitals were on strike for a total of 61 days, and in August 2023, the date of the first walkout, they became the first in England to take strike action over the issue of banding of staff.

Unions said clinical support workers on band 2 of the NHS’s Agenda for Change pay scale should only be providing personal care such as bathing and feeding, but some of the CSWs had been routinely undertaking clinical tasks, such as taking and monitoring blood, performing electrocardiogram tests and inserting cannulas, for many years.

Arrowe Park Hospital is one of two hospitals on the Wirral which was affected by the strike action. Credit: ITV Granada

According to NHS guidance, staff performing these duties should be on salary band 3, which is nearly £2,000 a year more.

Presented with the latest offer, this week the workers voted to accept, bringing the long-running dispute to an end.

The new deal is the latest North West campaign to ensure clinical support workers and healthcare assistants are paid fairly.

In the past six months, Warrington and Halton, East Cheshire and Mid Cheshire trusts joined seven other NHS trusts in Greater Manchester by moving workers to the higher rate and backdating their pay to April 2018.

UNISON North West regional organiser David McKnight said: "For far too long, these workers haven’t been fairly paid.

"They’re relieved the trust has finally agreed to do the right thing and recognise their hard work.

"Wirral’s clinical support workers are completely dedicated to serving the local community but among the lowest paid staff in the NHS.

"All they ever asked is for their pay to reflect the jobs they were carrying out.

"It’s a shame it took so long for the trust to make an offer that recognised their value.

“Nobody wants to take strike action but these workers were determined to get justice.

"Now this has been settled, it will leave a legacy of hundreds of fairly paid jobs for future generations of NHS workers serving the people of the Wirral."

A Wirral University Teaching Hospital spokesperson said:

"We have been committed throughout to reaching an agreement with UNISON.

"We made a pledge to ensure that workers are paid for the work that they undertake and we are glad we have now been able to reach an agreement."

The strikes began on 31 August 2023 and the last day of strike action was on February 8.

There was a pause in November following an agreement between the trust and the union on the date affected staff should benefit from backpay, but workers resumed striking after a disagreement over the number of people entitled to back pay and regrading.