Trust prepares for staff strike

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

HOSPITAL bosses say they expect to run a “near normal” service when admin and clerical staff walk out on strike today.

Public sector union Unison has called the strike in a dispute over redundancies and pay cuts at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Pontefract, Pinderfields and Dewsbury hospitals.

However, Graham Briggs, director of human resources at the trust, said: “We are planning on running a near normal service on the day. As it stands we don’t expect there to be any disruption to patients attending hospital.

“Emergency services will run as normal and patients with appointments, treatments and planned care should attend our hospitals as normal, as we plan to provide the care they need.”

Mr Briggs added that picketing would take place off hospital grounds, at one entrance and only from 8am to noon.

He said: “We recognise that other colleagues may have some sympathies with those staff affected by this first round of proposals under our workforce challenge. Therefore we have agreed arrangements whereby staff can show their solidarity by delaying the start of their shift by 45 minutes without pay.”

Unison balloted for industrial action following a review of admin and clerical roles – including clerks, receptionists, medical secretaries and call centre staff – with 74 staff put at risk of redundancy and 55 posts set to go. Remaining staff are also affected by the downgrading of salaries, by between £1,500 and £3,000 to cut costs at the trust – which has to save £24m as a result of government-imposed cuts this year and is also expecting to have a £26m deficit by the end of the year.

Mr Briggs said the trust remained opened to future talks with Unison, but added: “We have already consulted on the proposals and there has been opportunity along the way for alternatives to be proposed and assessed, and they have been and we have explained why we can’t do them.

“I do remain concerned about the scope for escalation, but I’m also concerned if we don’t deal with the issues the trust faces in terms of financial challenges it becomes difficult for everyone.”