Clinical support workers set to strike for the first time in NHS history

‘We all love our jobs and are dedicated to our patients. But you have to stand up for what you believe in’

Over 400 health staff at Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (WUTH) will take strike action tomorrow.

The strike will take place from 7am on Thursday 31 August through to 6:59am on Saturday 2 September after an overwhelming majority (99%) of clinical support workers voted to strike in a recent UNISON ballot.

Clinical support workers (CSW) are some of the lowest paid workers in the NHS. As roles have evolved and hospitals have struggled with staffing, they have taken on more clinical responsibilities without the pay and recognition to match.

The clinical support workers are employed at band two but regularly perform duties at band three level. UNISON says these employees should be paid at least £2,000 more a year in recognition of the tasks they perform.

The strike is the first in UNISON’s Pay Fair for Patient Care campaign, which has seen thousands of workers rebanded to band three.

In response to UNISON’s campaigning, seven health trusts across the North West have moved many low-paid CSW staff onto the higher rate, and paid the affected staff backpay from April 2018.

UNISON member Nikki has been a clinical support worker at WUTH for 19 years. She’s taking part in the strike tomorrow in the hope that it will bring about change: “I’m fed up with doing the work of a band three and only being recognised and appreciated as a band two.

“It’s not just about the pay, it’s about being recognised. We’re not asking to be managers, just to be paid fairly for the work we’re doing.”

“We’ve been doing these roles for many years without question and nobody took any notice of the matter until UNISON supported us to fight our corner.

“I work in theatre, and there are plenty of jobs we’re being asked to do, and if we say ‘that’s not my job’, we’re told ‘yes, but you can do that, so go and do that’.

“This is the first time in NHS history that clinical support workers are going on strike. We don’t want to have to strike. We all love our jobs and are dedicated to our patients. But you have to stand up for what you believe in and what is right, and if nobody’s listening to us, we don’t have a choice.”

UNISON North West regional organiser David McKnight said: “Taking strike action is no easy decision. These clinical support workers are dedicated to providing outstanding care to people across the Wirral.

“But the trust is defiantly refusing these workers what they’re owed and insisting that they provide care on the cheap.”

Read more about UNISON’s Pay Fair for Patient Care campaign.