Three-day strike planned

Pontefract General Infirmary / Pontefract Hospital
Pontefract General Infirmary / Pontefract Hospital

STAFF at Pontefract Hospital will walk out on strike for three days next week after union bosses announced more industrial action.

Unions Unison and Unite are both taking the industrial action over proposed job losses and pay cuts for admin and clerical staff at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Pontefract, Pinderfields and Dewsbury hospitals.

It will see staff walk out on Tuesday November 20, Wednesday November 21 and Thursday November 22. The trust is getting rid of 55 posts and downgrading the pay of remaining staff by between £1,500 and £3,000 in a move affecting medical secretaries, clerks and other admin staff.

The action follows a one-day walk-out on November 1, which saw around 260 staff joining picket lines and a rally at Wakefield Town Hall.

Graham Briggs, director of human resources at the trust, said plans were in place to minimise disruption to patients.

He said: “Our position is unchanged, we need to provide for continued patient care on these days. Our priority will remain our patients and we will do our utmost to ensure the strike action doesn’t compromise the care our patients need.

“We have been planning since the last strike what contingency we need, what worked well last time and what we need to improve, and we are confident the arrangements put in place will allow us to meet the commitment we have made.”

Hospital bosses are facing a £26m deficit by the end of this year and on top of that, the trust is required by the government to make savings of £24m.

Mr Briggs said the trust remained open to talks with the unions, but added: “We have to continue to be open about the level of savings we need to secure if we are going to sustain long-term care for patients in this area.

“The important point is everything needs to be on the table for discussion, and we have to put on the table that we need to reduce staff numbers and redesign work in a way that saves us money.

“The unions are opposed to those measures, we can’t take them off the table and we want to talk to them about it.”