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ICB warned of ‘large financial risk’ from HCA wage claim

Published on: 14 Mar 2024

NHS organisations across Surrey are to review healthcare assistants’ pay in the face of potential strike action at one trust.

The move marks the latest stage in a spreading dispute over HCA pay which began in the North West. Many of the trusts in the region have agreed to reclassify healthcare assistants within Agenda for Change band 3 rather than 2, after unions produced evidence their work qualified them to be paid at the higher level. Unions have also asked for back pay at the higher rate for the previous six years. 

There is little difference between the starting rates for band 2 and band 3, which are £22,383 and £22,816 respectively. However, band 3 workers can earn up to £24,336 annually.

The dispute is now spreading across the country, with HCAs at Bedfordshire Hospitals Foundation Trust striking, and Unison members across Teesside voting on whether to take industrial action.

More than 500 HCAs at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust are also taking part in a consultative ballot on strike action, while negotiations continue between Unison and the provider.

At a meeting last week Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care Board was warned of a “large financial risk” from rebanding claims “due to actions in the North of England including agreeing back pay to staff for up to six years”. The board was told there was a “Surrey wide approach to the union challenge of band 2/3 HCA workforce as it presents a consistency risk as well as a large financial risk”.

A statement from Surrey Heartlands added: As a system, we work together with local trusts and wider partners on areas relating to workforce and this includes adopting consistent policies and processes, where possible, to support staff retention and retain talent within Surrey Heartlands.

“Conversations that have been taking place nationally relating to the banding of HCAs is just one example of an area that would benefit from a broader conversation between system partners to ensure a consistent approach and these conversations are already underway.”