NHS trust spends millions on equal pay battle

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has spent millions of pounds on a legal battle over equal pay, prompting accusations of wasting taxpayers’ money.

The trust, which runs Cumbria’s two main hospitals, has spent £3.3m on an eight-year dispute which unions hoped would iron out historic pay inequalities between men and women workers.

Union and hospital bosses reached an agreement in 2005, worth up to £300m for the 1,500 involved, but legal spending has continued to rise, the local News and Star reports.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of public sector union Unison, said the trust’s spending, mainly on lawyers’ fees, was in shocking contrast to the earnings of the hospitals’ lower-paid members of staff.

Trust chief executive Carole Heatly said it is no longer dealing with claims, and that equal pay is now a national, rather than local, matter.

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