NHS office staff to hold cuts protest at hospital
Around 100 administrative staff are expected to gather outside Belfast City Hospital today to protest plans to slash 50 medical secretary jobs and downgrade a further 120.
The lunchtime demonstration, which is the first of two taking place this week, has been organised by the Northern Ireland Public Sector Alliance (NIPSA).
The union claims the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has so far refused to reveal the full details of the proposals which they fear could lead to a “substantial” drop in pay for those affected.
Currently, the annual salary for a medical secretary is between £18,152 and £21,798 (Band 4) on the new NHS pay scale.
They claim 50 people will be made redundant while 120 will be downgraded to Band 2 or 3. The trust denies this, however.
A spokesman for the trust said a review was carried out to determine “the work currently undertaken by our medical secretaries”.
He said the document sent to the unions “proposes” what is felt are “the appropriate skills needed to do” the job.
“Under our proposals for change there would be fewer of these posts in the future but no one will be out of a job.
“This aspect of change will be managed through a voluntary redundancy scheme and the normal turnover of staff.”
NIPSA Deputy General Secretary Alison Millar described the plan as “absolutely shabby”. She said the protest has been organised to “demonstrate the anger” of staff at the decision to “effectively downgrade” them while they performed the same duties.
“This is absolutely shabby treatment of a group of predominantly female workers who this trust believes can be easily picked off (by it).
“ This is not the case and NIPSA intends to fight to save the grading and pay rates of this vital group of staff,” she said.
NIPSA official Tommy Brownlee said members were distressed by the plans.
“One lady we spoke to has been a medical secretary for 30 years and she was saying to us she was upset that they were expecting her to interview for her own job, with the possibility it might be then downgraded or that she might not get it,” he said.
“She said it was very humiliating and demeaning.”