“RIPPED off” NHS workers at south Essex hospitals claim they are owed thousands of pounds for working above their pay grades, a union has said.

Support staff, including healthcare assistants, maternity support workers and other clinical support staff will present more than 400 open letters to the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust board at a meeting today.

According to Unison, support staff have been working above their pay grades for years and are owed thousands in back-dated pay.

Band two staff should only undertake personal care, such as bathing and feeding patients.

However, staff have been routinely doing clinical duties – including taking bloods, patient observations and carrying out electrocardiograms – that should be paid at band three, which is up to £2,000 a year more, for many years.

In July 2023, the trust made compensatory back payments to April 2022, however staff say they are owed thousands more for years working above their grades and the level of backpay should go beyond that date.

Unison claims it first raised the issue in 2020, but so far chief executive Matthew Hopkins has “refused to reconsider the level of pay or meet with union reps”.

The hospital trust insists it has “responded quicker than most” to offer back pay to staff.

Sam Older, Unison Eastern regional organiser said: “These workers are a vital part of the NHS, but they have been ripped off for years, with the trust using them to provide care on the cheap. Even when bosses did the right thing by up re-banding staff, they still undervalued and underpaid their workers.

“The board may want to hide from healthcare support workers, but staff won’t be shrugged off. The trust must do the right thing and pay staff what they deserve.”

Selina Dundas, chief people officer at Mid and South Essex NHS Trust, added: “As a trust we responded quicker than most to offer back pay to our Band 2 to 3 staff and we have provided a response to Unison which sets out the actions we have taken.

“We are now working to uplift and back pay staff that may have been missed in the initial round of uplifts and expect to have this completed by the end of next month.”