‘We’re not overpaid,’ say hospital porters

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Porters at Noble’s hospital are not overpaid – and any comparisons with rates paid to nursing staff only go to show nurses are underpaid.

That was the response for Unite union regional officer Eric Holmes after the Isle of Man Examiner revealed this week that the hospital portering service was being reviewed after it emerged porters were paid significantly more than their counterparts in the UK.

Our Code of Practice on Access to Government Information request to the Department of Health and Social Care revealed that a porter’s basic pay is £23,697 plus shift allowances which is a total average of £27,144, with the highest paid porter earning £44,000 gross in 2013/14.

The DHSC subsequently confirmed that three porters earned more than the average gross salary for a qualified nurse, which it said is a figure of £36,553 including enhancements.

Chief Minister Allan Bell said a review of salary levels across government had highlighted a number of anomalies.

Mr Holmes said: ‘These people are not on salaries but paid on an hourly rate with enhancements to make a living rate.

‘At the end of the day, no one can earn £44,000 by working 37 hours a week. I don’t know whether this was for someone in a managerial role or someone working night shifts, weekends and bank holidays. They could be working 50 hours. How is someone allowed to work that many hours?

‘These figures show the extent of what can be earned. But it highlights the fact that qualified nurses who they are being referenced against are obviously not paid enough for what they are doing.

‘Porters don’t just do portering – they do a massive amount of work. Their counterparts in the UK earn less basic but they don’t do the same workload.

‘It’s not as though the unions held a gun to the head of the employer. These terms and conditions were agreed through negotiation. Now all of a sudden the government wants to renege on the previous terms and conditions.

‘Every time it’s the working man and woman that takes the hit and makes the headlines.

‘We’re on really dangerous ground here. People don’t have spare cash, the government is taking more off in stealth taxes to the further detriment of the internal economy. People are wondering whether living here is ideal, which is why so many houses are for sale.’

Richard Bairstow, who has been an hospital porter for six years, insisted most porters did not earn anything like £44,000.

Mr Bairstow, 55, of Ballanard Road, Douglas, said: ‘I take home £1,850 per month, that’s about £2,500 gross.

‘That includes Saturday and Sunday enhancements – we work on a rota basis at weekends. It also includes enhancements for a 6am start on the 6am to 2pm shift or working until 9pm on the 1pm to 9pm shift.’

Mr Bairstow said the pay also covered security work, dealing with aggressive or difficult patients and it also covered mortuary duties.

He explained: ‘If you’ve got someone in A&E drunk as a skunk and aggressive it’s the porters who have to deal with them. That goes with the whole hospital – we had some guy doing a runner in his gown.

‘I’m one of the new guys - some have been here for 25 years. We do enjoy it. Pushing someone round for eight hours a day you have to be physically fit.’

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