CHANGES to hospital staff contracts have been given the go-ahead in a move that will save a total of £500,000.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospitals in Hartlepool and Stockton, had been planning to cut extra payments to staff who call in sick while rostered to work unsocial hours, during the night or on weekends, or on bank holidays.
That caused anger amongst union chiefs who said the lowest paid public sector workers would be hit hardest in the pocket.
But now the local scheme has been scrapped after further consultation and instead bosses at the Trust have agreed to introduce the national agreement instead, which protects the lowest paid workers.
It means, pay during sickness absence will be paid at basic salary level and will not include any allowance or payments linked to working patterns or additional work commitments.
But the change will not apply to staff who are on bands one, two and the first three increments for band three, or those whose absence is due to a work related injury or disease.
The measures will save a total of £350,000.
The extra £150,000 of savings that had to be made will now come through a 20 per cent increase in staff car parking for all staff.
Alan Foster, the Trust’s chief executive, stressed the increased car parking fees would be for staff only and not visitors.
Changes were agreed by the Trust at a board meeting held at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road.
Clare Curran, the trust’s director of human resources and education, said: “It was acknowledged that by accepting the new national proposal this will realise a saving of £350,000, both parties recognise that this will result in a shortfall of £150,000.
“The Trust must still achieve these savings in full to enable the cost improvement programme to be met.
“After consideration of a range of options to meet this shortfall, it was decided by the Trust and noted by the trade unions that staff car parking charges will increase by 20 per cent.”
Paul Garvin, chairman of the Trust, said it has been a “long, torturous and challenging” route but that a “successful resolution” had been found and the savings identified could still be made.
The original suggestion to cut the extra payments came from staff themselves as part of the Trust’s challenge to find £40m savings but the move angered unions.