Community nurses and NHS social workers in Northumbria say they are effectively having to pay to do their own jobs, after cuts to travel allowances

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UNISON NHS community nurses and social workers in Northumbria have taken a fourth day of strike action over the costs of their travel for work.

(Pictured: MP Ian Lavery joins pickets on Thursday morning. Image via Twitter)

Union reps say the staff are effectively having to pay to do their own jobs.

Strikers have carried placards mocking the Chief Executive of Northumbria Healthcare Trust, Jim Mackey, saying: ‘Lend us your Lexus, Jim’.

Staff at the Trust have been involved in industrial action including strike days since late June, after managers cut by almost 50% the rates at which staff would be reimbursed for the costs of travelling as part of their work.

The rate has been cut from 47p to 24p a mile for staff who use a car as part of their job, but choose to use their own vehicle.

Workers who want to continue to claim the 47p rate can only do so if they take a lease on a commercial scheme run at a profit to the Trust.

Lynne Robson, UNISON regional negotiator, said: “UNISON is being inundated with calls from furious members, and the morale of community based staff has plunged.

“UNISON believes that Trust management made a huge misjudgement in terms of the hardship that this will have upon our members.

“We call upon Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to abandon the unilateral imposition of this cynical policy, and engage in meaningful negotiations with trade unions. Our further consultative ballot on management’s revised offer has again been overwhelmingly rejected.”

The staff affected by the cuts to travel allowances include occupational therapists, social workers, community nurses and health visitors.

They are angry that the Trust’s decision follows a 3-year pay freeze and comes amid sharp increases in the cost of petrol and diesel. They say the ruling could put patients at risk because staff will not be able to see the same number of patients in a working day.


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