We are campaigning for all NHS Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) to be paid correctly when we deliver clinical care.
Thousands of HCAs across the region are employed on NHS Agenda for Change Band 2 contracts- this means we should provide personal care such as bathing, feeding and toileting patients.
But a huge number of Band 2 HCAs are regularly and routinely undertaking clinical duties above our pay grade including taking and monitoring bloods; carrying out electrocardiogram (ECG) tests; venepuncture; escorting patients unaccompanied; complex dressings; cannulation and recording patient observations.
This means that many of us are losing out on thousands of pounds worth of pay every year, whilst North West NHS Trusts get clinical care on the cheap.
We have gone over and above to deliver care during the pandemic. If we didn’t perform these essential clinical duties, they would need to be completed by nurses and doctors who are already overworked and understaffed. All we want is a Fair Days Pay for HCAs.
A member of the Maternity Assistant Team at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester said: “We have several nursing assistants within our nursing team who often have to deal with upset or angry patients, perform venepuncture and break bad news. Another part of our daily job role requires us to work in a surgical theatre setting where we carry a catheter containing a viable embryo from point A to B. You are potentially carrying somebody’s chance of a family- this level of responsibility is more than a Band 2 nursing assistant should have.
“Some of our Band 2 staff sacrifice family time and days off in order to pick up extra shifts just to make ends meet. Some also claim benefits to top up their wages- this has an impact not just on our mental health but also on the mental health of our families.”
A Health Care Assistant who works in Wythenshawe said: “As Band 2s we do it all- ECG's, venepunctures and more because we care and want to help. This has been going on for many years and so it has become part of our job.
“The managers often think that doing the clinical duties is part of our role. It would be nice to be rewarded and feel more valued by being on the correct banding and paid correctly.”
Our campaign has received support from MPs and our fellow NHS workers. Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston said: “Healthcare assistants do a vitally important job. COVID has starkly reminded us all how much we rely on the care, compassion and professionalism of our health key workers
“They deserve proper recognition and reward for the demanding and important roles they undertake.”
Thousands of HCAs working at three large NHS Trusts in Greater Manchester have taken a significant step towards resolving their long-running dispute over this issue. HCAs came together and campaigned for change- this has led to the implementation of a new framework, which will result in thousands of HCAs being rebanded and receiving back-pay.
Other NHS Trusts in Greater Manchester who have turned a blind eye to staff being expected to work at a higher level than they are being paid for must now take note and follow suit.
We call on all North West NHS Trusts to hold meaningful discussions with UNISON representatives about how we can look to resolve this problem.