Staff at Luton and Dunstable Hospital to walk out for two days in March

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UNISON say over 400 staff from Bedford and Luton and Dunstable hospitals will strike

Luton and Dunstable Hospital staff are set to walk out for 48 hours during March in a dispute over pay.

From 7.30am on Monday, March 11, hundreds of workers from Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will take strike action for two days, in what their union calls “their campaign to be rewarded fairly for their work and to secure back pay”.

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This news comes as the hospital urged people to not attend its accident and emergency department unless it is essential and to expect longer wait times. The hospital’s emergency departments are “particularly busy” as junior doctors stage their own strikes. Junior doctors’ walkout will last until the end of Wednesday, February 28.

Luton & Dunstable HospitalLuton & Dunstable Hospital
Luton & Dunstable Hospital

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

But UNISON has said: “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. In a strike ballot, 99 per cent of voters backed the walkouts.

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Luton and Dunstable Hospital healthcare assistant Sham said: “I love my job, but the trust is taking advantage of us. It needs to pay us properly for the clinical tasks we do and give us back pay like other trusts around the country have.”

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.”

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