Care assistants begin third round of strike action at University Hospital of Hartlepool in ongoing NHS pay grade fight

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Healthcare assistants at hospital sites across the region have again walked out in a dispute over wage rates and back pay.

Staff employed by North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust began the latest action at 8am on Monday, May 20.

It is due to continue for five days until Saturday morning.

This is the third round of walkouts across Teesside following a 24-hour strike in March and a 72-hour stoppage last month when hundreds of staff left their posts across seven sites at the two trusts.

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Healthcare assistants on the picket line outside the University Hospital of Hartlepool.Healthcare assistants on the picket line outside the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Healthcare assistants on the picket line outside the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

​Staff have been campaigning to move to a wage band that unions argue more accurately reflects the tasks they carry out, and secure an appropriate back pay settlement.

​UNISON has accused the trusts of refusing to negotiate with them.

The two trusts says they have “worked closely with trade union colleagues” to move healthcare assistants to the higher pay grades where applicable.

During the strike, health bosses say urgent and emergency care will be prioritised and the public are asked not to attend A&E unless absolutely necessary.

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Union members protest outside the University Hospital of Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REIDUnion members protest outside the University Hospital of Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID
Union members protest outside the University Hospital of Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

The strike affects seven hospital sites including the University Hospital of North Tees, University Hospital of Hartlepool, and James Cook University Hospital.

Clare Williams, UNISON Northern regional secretary, said: “Put simply, hundreds of low-paid workers across Teesside, mainly women, are being denied money they’re owed.

"The healthcare assistants are not backing down and they’re determined to get what they deserve.”

​A spokesperson for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "The role healthcare assistants play on our wards and in the community is much valued by our colleagues and patients.

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“We have worked closely with trade union colleagues to move our healthcare assistants to the higher grades where applicable in line with the national profile and have committed to back pay dating back to July 2021.

Patients are asked to attend any appointments as usual, unless we contact them to reschedule.

“Urgent and emergency care will be prioritised to ensure those in life-threatening emergencies can receive the best possible care.

"People can help us to keep A&E free to treat the most serious conditions by accessing help from NHS 111 online for non-life-threatening medical issues.”

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