Widening pay gap between private and NHS staff ‘risks damaging the health service beyond repair’

A widening pay gap across the NHS “risks damaging the health service beyond repair” a union has warned, as private sector employers have failed to match public sector pay rises.

An estimated 100,000 cleaners, security guards and catering staff working for private contractors across hospitals in England are being treated as “second case citizens,” according to Unison.

Even the lowest-paid NHS staff received a £2,000 pay rise last year as part of a deal with health unions, but Unison has criticised the lack of a similar pay rise for the “overwhelming majority of health staff employed on private contracts who have not received a penny.”

The union claims this growing pay divide is affecting the smooth running of the NHS and is impacting patient care as outsourced staff are forced to leave in search of better-paid jobs.

Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton has said the government “must find the money” to ensure private sector staff are paid the equivalent of their NHS employees.

She said: “All hospital workers are part of the NHS team and should be paid fairly for the important jobs they do. The days of treating them as second-class employees in the NHS must end.

“Staff employed by private contractors are expected to deliver the same exceptional levels of service and also work under immense pressure. It’s only fair they receive the same pay as colleagues, often doing identical jobs but employed by the NHS.

“A failure to do so risks damaging the health service beyond repair as firms can’t attract or hold on to the staff needed to provide a decent service to the NHS.”

Just last week private staff at Liverpool Women’s Hospital won a pay battle after the contractor OCS had “refused to pay them the same rate for the job as staff employed directly by the NHS.”

The contractor agreed to pay the private hospital employees more than an extra £1 an hour after the staff went on strike three separate times in February and March.


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