Extra funding has been committed by Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust to bring some of its workers up to the London Living Wage.

The announcement comes after ambulance staff who work in patient transport threatened to strike if they did not receive NHS contracts.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “Our teams in patient transport services perform a vital role for the people we care for, and it is only right that they receive a level of pay that reflects the importance of the job that they do – that’s why we are investing an additional £1 million to improve the pay of some of our facilities staff, including cleaners, porters and our patient transport services.”

The trust says that on average the extra funding will mean a five per cent pay increase for a full time member of staff.

It also says that this will bring the staff in line with the private sector and the London Living Wage.

An advert on the trust’s website for an ambulance care assistant/driver states that job involves taking vulnerable and frail people to and from hospital to attend appointments and on the day transfers.

Currently the salary for this job is £9.81 per hour (or £21,740 a year). This is below the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour.

This increase will not mean that workers are on NHS Agenda for Change contracts, this is where wages are banded and increase with experience.

GMB regional organiser, Helen O’Connor, said that the union will keep pushing for workers to be offered NHS contracts.

She said: “They are NHS employees, they were taken back in house a year ago.”

Last week it was announced that the trust will benefit from a massive £500 million boost from the government which will be used to upgrade its two hospitals and build a new acute hospital, in a location yet to be decided.

And Helen thinks some of this money should go towards staff wages.

She added: “The investment should be a lot greater. They have for a lot of high calibre people doing these jobs.

“We are going ot be balloting our members on this offer and a lot of them are voting to reject it.”

The union expects to have another meeting with the trust later this month to discuss the contracts. 

But the trust has stated that the latest government investment cannot be used for pay budgets.

The spokesperson added: “It is unfortunate that GMB Southern Union have chosen to misrepresent the facts of this matter in such a way, and have conflated our pay budgets with the record investment we are making to improve our estates (such as the new multi-storey car park) as well as the recently announced £500 million investment to build a new specialist emergency care hospital.

“These are entirely distinct investments, and it is unrealistic to suggest that the £500 million could ever be diverted to pay budgets.”