RCM activists secure staff mileage rate increase at Birmingham trust

By Colin Beesley on 02 September 2022 Midwifery Midwives Midwifery Workforce NHS England Government Pay and Agenda For Change MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Trade Unions Workplace representatives

As petrol prices and the cost of living remain high, RCM activists at Birmingham Women’s NHS Trust have gained an increased mileage rate allowance for staff.

Community midwives and maternity support workers using their cars for work at the trust were seeing their income fall as they paid more for rising petrol prices. Yet they were not seeing an increase in the mileage rate paid by the trust.

RCM activists - including RCM Board member and workplace representative Janet Ballintine - decided to take action. Working with other unions through the trust’s Joint Negotiation and Consultation Committee, they made a case to the trust for a mileage rate increase and pushed it through.

“The trust did not come forward voluntarily to offer an increase but was receptive when we presented a case for one. It was only through our collective action and initiative that the change happened. Otherwise, I am sure we would still be getting the same rate as before,” said Janet Ballintine. “We know other trusts nearby have secured even bigger rate increases so we will be going back to the trust to make our case for another rise in the rate.”

Mileage reimbursement rates are set out in the Agenda for Change terms and conditions of service handbook. In England the RCM along with other unions were unable to reach a national collective agreement to increase mileage reimbursement rates to meet the rising cost of fuel due. This was due to refusal by the Government to make money available. The NHS Staff Council produced guidance to support local discussions to address the impact of the rising cost of fuel, and the RCM has also produced its own guidance for its activists.

The trust’s rate before the rise was set at the national minimum of 56p per mile for the first 3,500 miles, then 20p after that. Janet and her union colleagues at the trust negotiated an increase to 60p per mile up to the first 3,500 miles, then 40p per mile beyond that.

“This is a great example of how our incredible activists are working to improve pay and conditions for our members and shows at a local level how effective they can be,” said Alice Sorby, the RCM’s Director of Employment Relations. “The efforts of Janet and her colleagues are an inspiration to us all and are a testament to the power of unions and the benefits they can bring be they big or small, national or local.”

The RCM is also calling for national mileage rate increase and as part of the NHS Staff Council has formally requested a remit to undertake a review of the current travel and motoring cost reimbursement mechanism “It is deeply unjust that midwives and MSWs are effectively subsidising and paying for the petrol to do their jobs. What the Government pays must reflect the real costs. This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency and we will be pushing hard to make that happen,” said Alice Sorby.

The NHS Staff Council guidance can be read at 009 NHS SC - Joint statement on reimbursement of travel costs in England MAY 2022.pdf (nhsemployers.org. 

The RCM guidance on mileage rates can be read at mileage-briefing.docx (live.com).