NHS staff are celebrating victory after winning a ‘substantial wage rise’, following a campaign.

More than 200 healthcare assistants at the East Cheshire NHS Trust have secured a rise plus five years’ back pay after UNISON demanded ‘fair reward for the duties they perform’.

The staff, employed across the trust’s sites at Knutsford, Congleton and Macclesfield hospitals, are currently paid at NHS band 2 rates.

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Anyone on a band 2 salary should only undertake personal care, such as helping patients go to the toilet, bathing and feeding.

But a recent survey by UNISON found that most healthcare assistants are routinely undertaking clinical tasks like taking and monitoring blood, electrocardiogram (ECG) tests, and inserting cannulas.

UNISON says that according to NHS job role profiles, all these duties should be paid to at least a band 3 salary, which is nearly £2,000 a year more.

In May, around 180 healthcare assistants signed a grievance against East Cheshire, with several attending a trust board meeting to deliver it.

Knutsford Guardian: Healthcare assistants say the wage rise and back pay 'will make a huge difference'Healthcare assistants say the wage rise and back pay 'will make a huge difference' (Image: Supplied)

UNISON and the trust have now reached an agreement-in-principle that, subject to a vote union members, will see the affected workers upgraded to a band 3 salary and given back pay to 1 April, 2018 for all staff who’ve performed clinical duties during this time.

This consensus sees East Cheshire join seven other NHS trusts across the north west that have moved thousands of low-paid healthcare assistants onto the higher rate and paid the affected staff back pay to April 2018.

UNISON north west regional organiser David McKnight said: “It’s great that an agreement-in-principle has been reached with East Cheshire NHS Trust, subject to a vote from UNISON members.

“These healthcare assistants have been working above their pay band for far too long.

“It’s good to see the trust acknowledge that and agree to provide the back pay to compensate for years of underpayment.

“Backdating pay for over five years will have a huge impact on the health workers’ lives and shows that the trust recognises the work they’ve put in over many years.

“These trusts have been going against NHS policy for years.

“It’s a scandal that they’ve been saving money off the backs of their lowest paid staff for so long. It’s time they did the right thing.

“While we are relieved to achieve this victory at East Cheshire, we are disappointed that they are refusing to compensate HCAs working on the bank for their clinical duties.

“UNISON will continue to campaign at East Cheshire on this issue.”

David Greene, a healthcare assistant at Macclesfield Hospital, said: “The wage rise and back pay will make a huge difference for all of us who’ve been working so hard on low pay over the last few years.

“It’s also important that our work has been recognised by the trust.

“We only wanted to be paid fairly for the jobs we do. It’s great that this will finally be happening in East Cheshire.”

A spokesman from East Cheshire NHS Trust said: “East Cheshire NHS Trust received a collective grievance from UNISON members within the trust which related to the retrospective and future pay of colleagues who are employed as Health Care Assistants.

“The trust and UNISON are working together to resolve this and UNISON are sharing an offer the trust has made with its members for consideration.”