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"Wirral Hospitals strikes end after support workers secure back pay and grading," says UNISON

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, UNISON has said.

The deal follows a long UNISON campaign during which workers at Arrowe Park and Clatterbridge hospitals were on strike for a total of 61 days.

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. 

However, UNISON says most CSWs at the 2 Hospitals have been routinely undertaking clinical tasks, such as:- taking and monitoring blood, performing electrocardiogram tests and inserting cannulas, for many years.

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

The new deal is the latest North West success in a UNISON 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 7 other NHS trusts in Greater Manchester by moving these workers to the higher rate and backdating their pay to April 2018.

In August 2023, support workers employed on the Wirral became the first in England to take strike action over this issue.

Last month, the workers voted overwhelmingly to renew their strike mandate.

UNISON says this display of determination from the CSWs led the trust to reconsider its previous position and agree to the workers’ demands for regrading and back pay.

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

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.”

Clatterbridge Hospital clinical support worker Nikki said:- “We’re over the moon the trust has finally recognised the work we do and agreed to pay us fairly. We’re the lowest paid workers in the NHS but for years we’ve been plugging the gaps by performing vital clinical duties across the service. Without our work, patients wouldn’t receive the care they deserve. But for too long we haven’t been paid properly for it. Over the years we’ve seen so many valued colleagues leave the job because of the low pay. Hopefully this deal will prevent that from happening in the future and attract more talented, dedicated people into a career in the NHS.”

What the Child Benefit rate rise means for you

MILLIONS of families who claim Child Benefit will automatically receive increased payments from:- 6 April 2024, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed.

Families with 1 child will now receive up to:- £1,331 a year; an annual increase of:- £83.20, and up to £881 a year per additional child; an annual increase of:- £54.60. There is no limit to how many children families can claim for.

Parents will receive:- £102.40 every 4 weeks (£25.60 per week) for the 1st or only child and:- £67.80 every 4 weeks (£16.95 per week) for each additional child.

Families with ongoing claims do not need to contact HMRC, as the increased benefit payment will continue to be paid directly into their bank accounts. Anyone who needs to update their personal details, such as a change of bank account or address, can do so using the HMRC app or online, at:- Gov.UK.

Parents with a newborn baby are encouraged to make a claim online as soon as possible and could receive their 1st payment in as little as:- 3 days. Child Benefit claims can be backdated by a maximum of:- 3 months.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC's Deputy Chief Executive and Second Permanent Secretary, said:- "The increase in Child Benefit rates for existing claimants is automatic and families do not need to contact us. New claimants should apply online or using HMRC's App. Search 'child benefit' on Gov.UK for more information."

HMRC is reminding parents yet to benefit from Child Benefit that it is quick and easy to claim on:- Gov.UK or via the HMRC app, which can be used to:-

  • Apply online.

  • Backdate claims for up to 3 months.

  • Add a new baby to a claim.

  • Tell HMRC about a change in circumstances.

  • Update details ie. change of address / bank details.

  • View or print proof of entitlement to Child Benefit.

From 6 April 2024, families where the highest earner has a salary of up to:- £60,000 a year will not be subject to the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC). Previously, a person who had an annual income of £50,000 or more would be liable to pay the charge if they or their partner were receiving Child Benefit.

Laura Trott, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:- "We are ending the unfairness in the child benefit system, and as a result:- 170,000 families will no longer have to pay back child benefit, and nearly half a million families will save an average of around:- £1,300 next year. The legacy of the Pandemic and the war in Ukraine has put pressures on everyone's cost of living. But, by taking difficult decisions, the economy is starting to turn a corner, and we can now provide further support to parents."

For those earning between:- £60,000 and £80,000, the amount of Child Benefit they are entitled to receive reduces as income increases within this range. If an individual's income exceeds £80,000 the HICBC will be equal to the Child Benefit payment. Parents who make a claim and then choose to opt-out of receiving Child Benefit payments can still receive National Insurance credits if 1 parent is not working.

Parents with an income above:- £50,000, who reinstate their Child Benefit, before:- 6 April 2024, may be subject to HICBC charges if they choose to start payments in the:- 2023 to 2024 tax year. For new claimants who claim Child Benefit, on or after:- 6 April 2024, any HICBC liability will be based on the new:- 2024 to 2025 threshold of:- £60,000 to £80,000.

More information can be found on Gov.UK. Search:- 'High Income Child Benefit Charge.'

This Government is committed to supporting working families which is why from:- 1 April 2024, working parents of 2 year olds are now entitled to 15 hours a week of free childcare during term time. This is the largest ever investment in childcare in England's history and is a key part of the Government's priority to grow the economy and will help support people into work.

"NHS Workers sacked on Easter Sunday without redundancy" say trade unions.

"MORE than 50 Lancashire based NHS workers have been forced into financial peril after being made redundant without any compensation," says UNISON.

On Sunday, 31 March 2024, the Liverpool based Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust closed its Whalley site, formerly known as:- Calderstones Hospital, in East Lancashire. The trade union, UNISON has said that Workers at the site were told they'd be offered alternative employment at the trust's Aspen site in Liverpool or another trust in Lancashire.

UNISON went on to says many of the affected workers cannot be reasonably expected to make the 80 mile round trip to Liverpool, and some of the more local roles are unworkable for the staff to whom they've been offered. Moreover, UNISON has added that at least 40 members of staff have not been offered a role with a neighbouring trust! The union is also claiming Mersey Care is refusing to offer any redundancy pay to the workers, citing the alternative employment offered.

Michelle Smith, a former medical secretary at the Whalley site, said:- "Since being served our 12 week notice I have been feeling anxious, barely sleeping and waking up worrying about my future. I was laid off on Sunday with no guarantee of alternative employment or redundancy pay. I've worked for 32 years in the NHS and I can't believe how I've been treated by the trust. Despite many staff saying they can't travel to the Liverpool site, the trust has continued to send us alternative jobs that are based in the Merseyside area. It's outrageous. Like many of my colleagues, I'm now wondering how I'll make ends meet and pay my bills at the end of this month."

UNISON North West Regional organiser Dale Ollier said:- "It's a scandal that so many dedicated staff have been left without any firm prospect of employment or redundancy payout. UNISON has directed staff to the union's There For You charity for financial support. Mersey Care must do the right thing and pay these staff the redundancy pay they're owed."

Also the GMB Union also added:- "Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust recently closed the Calderstones Hospital site, in Mitton Road, Whalley, near Blackburn, and told more than 50 workers that they would now have to work in:- Aspen Wood, near Liverpool; an 80 mile round trip. Other members have been offered unsuitable roles in a local trust, but can't accept them due to family and caring responsibilities. Those who wouldn't, or couldn't make the trip will now be sacked, without redundancy pay, on Easter Sunday."

Let us know your thoughts on this news topic... Email our Newsroom at:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com or send us a message on:-  Mastodon, Facebook or Twitter.

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