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Winning the real Living Wage at West London NHS trusts - One Domino at a time..

Winning the real Living Wage at West London NHS trusts - One Domino at a time..

People standing together outside on a pavement with posters calling NHS trusts to pay the real living wage
West London Citizens winning Living Wage commitments from NHS Trusts

West London Citizens have been working collaboratively across four boroughs since last spring to campaign for a Living Wage for all health and social care workers.

Our leaders showed frustration and dismay at the fact that across London crucial healthcare workers were still often paid below a real Living Wage. We wanted to choose a target which had the potential to create a high impact on people’s lives. We know that the North West London ‘Integrated Care System’ employs tens of thousands of people in NHS trusts, GP surgeries, primary care networks and care homes- and in many of these there are contracted third party workers who’s pay and conditions are often extremely poor.

Ensuring a minimum standard of London Living Wage of £11.95 per hour would ensure that all workers, including outsourced security, cleaning, transport, and catering staff, are paid fairly for their time.

So, how do we tackle a huge system, with a budget of £6.8 billion to deliver healthcare services to 2.2 million people? We decided to first challenge the 9 NHS Trusts.

We can now announce that 5 of the 9 Trusts have accredited as Living Wage employers. When we started the campaign none of the NHS Trusts with their headquarters in West London were accredited.

Health and social care work is incredibly important to our society. We saw this in the pandemic. These (health and social care) students have seen people they look up to in the pandemic – caring for others and being the heroes of our time. They want to know their sector has a positive future. As the cost of living spirals, we urge all NHS Trusts to honour their workforce and to pay them the real Living Wage. Sana Ola, Teacher at City of Westminster College

So, how did we do it?

In November 2022, 80 leaders from 14 institutions form across West London descended on Charing Cross hospital to highlight the importance of a real Living Wage at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. It was incredibly cold and rainy, but the wet feet and soggy jackets did not deter us.

The trust revealed that on that very day, due to our encouragement, they had applied for LivingWage Accreditation. This was a fantastic boost, and the Trust then promised to take the Living Wage issue to a meeting of the NW London Integrated Care System HR team and to encourage other NHS trusts and ICS members to accredit as Living Wage employers. We were excited that they not only wanted to level up the pay for their contractors - but that they also saw the importance of using their influence to also persuade others.

At the end of last year the fantastic youth group at St Anselm’s church, realising that the headquarters of West London NHS Trust was just a short walk from their church, followed this by taking a group to the trust to talk about Living Wage. Trust staff were impressed by the young people and told them they fully support the campaign and told us to ‘to keep up the good work!’

West London NHS Trust have completed their accreditation as a Living Wage employer. They fast tracked the process and the Living Wage Foundation said that it was one of the quickest accreditations they have seen for an institution of this size

2023 has been a busy year

Ealing Alliance

Ealing Alliance took public action in March to encourage the trust that runs their local hospital London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, to become a Living Wage employer. A group of community leaders gathered at Ealing hospital- and were invited in to speak to Trust Chief of People Tracey Connage.

Discussions revealed that third-party contracts disproportionately employed global majority and migrant workers, which the trust wants to correct by bringing the pay up to a London Living Wage as a minimum. The trust were respectful of the group and said they regretted these pay disparities and said that they will accredit as soon as possible.

The trust has continued to be in contact with our leaders and just last week came to Southall college where leaders form Ealing alliance spoke to trust managers about exciting work and voluntary opportunities for local people. This is an important relationship which will hopefully mean that the community will continue to benefit long after accreditation is complete.

Westminster Alliance

Westminster Alliance led by City of Westminster College Health and Social care students were next to step up! The college’s paddington campus is a short bus ride from Central LondonCommunity Healthcare NHS Trus, so they decided to take action to encourage the trust to increase the pay of its lowest paid contracted staff.

Students were initially nervous, but built confidence and on the day succeeded in running the action themselves. Students gave powerful testimony, spoke to press and helped to ensure that the action ran smoothly and efficiently.

Students felt strongly about how little some people were paid alongside Westminster Citizens Alliance members, in preparation for the action took the campaign to parliament. They met Nickie Aiken MP who agreed that pay was extremely important for these valuable workers - and she also agreed to write to the NHS Trust and encourage them to accredit as Living Wage employer.

This is our future – this is difficult work and we will be proud to do it, but how can we have hope when pay is so poor? Rahat, Student at City of Westminster College

This current crisis and the fact that people are paid so poorly is making me doubt if I want to work in the sector. My mum works for the NHS and I see the struggles she goes through. I want to push for better for her and for all of us. Serena, Student at City of Westminster College said;

A group of students hold banners and megaphones during a protest, asking for health and social care workers to be payed the real Living Wage in West London.

What happened next?

The trust have revealed they are seeking accreditation!

This is fantastic news. Chief Executive James Benson said; ‘We see paying the London Living Wage as a powerful message to potential applicants and future staff’

The action was also incredibly useful for building local links with decision makers - leaders now have a new contact with a Living Wage champion in Westminster & a route to the chair of the Integrated Care System. Councillor Nafsika Butler-Thalassis was impressed by our young leaders and is using her influencing power to advocate for Living Wage. The Cllr is now helping to (hopefully) connect us with Penny Dash.

Penny Dash is the Chair of the board that runs the Integrated Care System - and is the person we identified as our target at the ICS – so this is incredible progress!

Once the NHS Trusts are accredited we will be pushing for the ICS itself to become a recognised Living Wage employer, with potential for 10,000 people to be uplifted from minimum wage to a Living Wage across North West London.

It's exciting to see the pace with which NHS trusts are accrediting as Living Wage employers. The numbers are increasing fast – which will help to ensure the NHS can attract and retain talent, while respecting the work of Health & Social Care workers. Simon Woodman, Minister at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church

Join us to celebrate at our London wide Living Wage Assembly

On 7th November 6pm to 8pm we will be celebrating the campaign, inviting all trusts, MPs and councillors. Save the date!

Posted by Lauren Del Fabbro on 5 Jun, 2023