Hundreds of Bedford NHS staff announce 48-hour strike in pay dispute

Bedford Hospital (Photo: Dr Robert Oakley)

The union UNISON has confirmed that hundreds of health staff at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will take strike action in March in a dispute over pay.

More than 400 workers at Bedford and Luton & Dunstable hospitals will walk out for 48 hours from 7.30am on Monday, 11 March.

In a strike ballot in February, staff overwhelmingly backed the walkouts with 99% voting in favour.

According to NHS guidance, healthcare assistants on salary band 2 of the Agenda for Change pay scale should only be providing personal care, such as bathing and feeding patients.

However, UNISON says that most of the staff have routinely undertaken clinical tasks that would normally be done by people on band 3, such as taking blood, performing electrocardiogram tests and inserting cannulas.

The union says an offer from the Trust in January failed to clarify which staff would be regraded and fell way short of UNISON’s expectation of back pay going back to April 2018.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Julie Trundell said: “Clinical support staff provide outstanding care to people across Bedfordshire and deserve to be paid fairly for their work.

“All they’re asking for is to be properly rewarded and receive back pay for the work they’ve already done.

“The trust should follow the lead of others around the country that have avoided strike action by properly grading staff and paying them the back pay they’re owed.”

A statement on the Bedford Hospital website, relating to affected services during other strike action, urged Bedfordians to use the hospital services wisely.

“Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.”

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