Cumbria NHS trust to compensate under paid women workers by £60m

Women working for an NHS Trust in Cumbria are finally set to receive millions of pounds in compensation after winning an historic equal pay battle last year.

The women – most of them nurses – are likely to receive substantial cheques in the next few days, in some cases getting payments of more than £50,000.

The NHS trust has finally confirmed the total cost of the claim at about £60m. That figure gives the 1,500 women claimants an average payout of £40,000.

Health union Unison launched the legal claim several years ago after alleging that women were being paid less than male colleagues who were doing jobs of equal worth.

The trust agreed the compensation package in March 2005 on the eve of an employment tribunal hearing. Among those who will receive payouts are cleaners, cooks, and telephonists.

The payouts will be funded by the Department of Health and will not leave the hospitals facing a financial black hole, the trust said.

Marie Burnham, chief executive, said: “This long-running issue, covering many years, has now been settled for the trust, its staff and patients in north Cumbria.”

Unison had claimed that the final bill was likely to total about £300m, a figure disputed by the trust.

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