Unison this week claimed victory in its battle against trust contracts when Chase Farm Hospitals trust confirmed that new staff would no longer be offered them.

The practice of offering all new staff trust contracts ensured that the proportion on them had risen to about a third, despite strong union opposition.

Unison regional officer Mike Jackson commented: 'We are delighted that the trust has finally abandoned this divisive policy which has treated staff differently despite the equal contribution that they all make to the care of patients within the hospital.'

Chief executive Elizabeth Heyer said the change of policy did not apply to existing staff. Trust contracts would no longer be offered to new staff because of the changed industrial relations climate since 1985, when the policy was introduced.

The present government was emphasising national pay with local flexibility, rather than local pay.