James Paget: Hospital bosses come under fire from union over sick pay arrangements

UNION leaders have criticised hospital bosses for “attacking” vulnerable staff with proposals to change sick pay arrangements.

Unison entered a dispute with the James Paget Hospital (JPH) yesterday, claiming medical chiefs are attempting to cut staff terms and conditions.

Regional organiser Jeffrey Keighley said by law bosses had to pay staff statutory sick pay and through a national agreement they also give workers extra “hospital” pay while ill.

But he said the JPH was now looking to “step outside the national agreement” and reduce workers’ hospital entitlement by the amount of statutory pay they would receive, greatly reducing their net wages.

He added: “This is a serious issue. As you are more likely to go off sick long term due to a disability, to have the same amount of their statutory pay removed is an attack on staff who are vulnerable.

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“We are strongly opposed to a situation where, say, a member of staff hurts their back and suffers chronic pain, and is then treated less favourably than colleagues in other hospitals on national agreements.”

Mr Keighley said he could not understand why medical bosses were considering the cuts as he had been told cases of long term sickness at the JPH were “minimal”.

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He added: “The trust could easily reduce sickness by redeployment to more suitable work and making adjustments to those with a disability and we have recently offered to work with them to achieve this.”

A hospital spokesman said: “Following the dispute being lodged, the Trust [which runs the JPH] will continue its discussions with staff side and union representatives.

“Until these discussions have taken place, no changes to the current process will be implemented. We will not comment further at this time.”

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