Row erupts over pay cuts for life-saving cancer nurses

DISGUSTED ... Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.
DISGUSTED ... Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

A ROW has erupted between an MP and a hospital trust over the down-grading life-saving cancer nurses’ jobs.

Iain Wright, MP for Hartlepool, has raised questions over pay cuts for the chemotherapy nurses working at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

He first wrote to North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust to voice his “disgust” and “astonishment” at the move by the health bosses.

A written reply from the trust said that the decision to lower the job grade, and therefore the pay, was made as a result of a “national consultation” by the Government.

But he asked a question to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt about the decision, the minister’s answer contradicted that of the trust.

Mr Wright told the Mail: “I wrote to the trust around Christmas time because I was astonished at the news about the chemotherapy nurses.

“The trust replied saying it was to do with a ‘national consultation’.

“Now, I’m not here to defend the Government, but I don’t recall any national consultation?

“So I asked a parliamentary question to the health secretary - how many nurses in North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust have had their pay downgraded as a result of a national consultation?

“His reply to me was, ‘No nurses have had their pay downgraded as a result of a consultation’. He said that bands of nursing posts is a ‘matter of local employers’.

“It seems it’s the trust has decided to do this.

“There needs to be some clarity from the trust about what is going on here because the answer I got in parliament is in contradiction to its answer, it’s exactly the opposite.

“The trust has to clarify its position.”

The Mail contacted the trust and explained the concern from Mr Wright.

A comment from Ann Burrell, director of human resources and education at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, read: “A consultation was launched to align our clinical areas to the appropriate bandings of nurses within national recommendations.

“The changes are connected with the supervisory and managerial aspects of nursing jobs and will have no impact on patient care or experience.”

The comment was similar to that given by the trust when the Mail published its last story on the cancer nurses on February 7.

The move has affected nurses working at the day unit at Hartlepool hospital, which previously won a special recognition award in the Mail’s Best of Health awards last year after winning the Team of the Year award in the four previous ceremonies.

The Mail learned that over three members of staff who had to re-apply for their posts, one has kept the same position while another two have been downgraded to lower band nursing positions.

Mr Wright said he was personally disgusted by the move and questioned the effect on the chemotherapy service.

He said: “How can we possibly provide the best service and value our nurses by downgrading their pay when they have faced pay cuts for the past few years. I’m surprised it hasn’t had more outrage, I am personally disgusted by it.”