The Department of Health has embarked on an emergency review
of NHS pay structures this month as it struggles to avoid a possible £15bn
compensation payout to female employees.
The move comes as staff in a Carlisle hospital moved closer
to winning £35m over allegations that female employees are being paid up to
fifty percent less than male workers.
NHS pay-schemes were established in 1948 and have not been
updated despite the increasing demands and responsibilities placed on female
workers and the relatively fewer demands placed on men.
Over 500 nurses, cooks, ancillary staff and domestics at
Cumberland Infirmary are claiming that they are paid significantly less than
male workers with similar levels of qualification, that they receive lower
overtime rates and work longer hours.
If their case is successful, they stand to receive large
instant pay-rises, as well as ten years back-dated pay, amounting in many cases
to £100,000 each.
A victory could also lead to knock-on effects throughout the
NHS as similar cases are taken up across the UK, leading to a crippling total
payout of several billion pounds.
A spokesperson for Unison said that a verdict was expected
soon and indicated that they were confident of a positive result.
By Robert De La Poer