Dangerously overworked London nurses strike

Guys and St Thomas’ theatre nurses take action over increased hours

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Guys and St Thomas’ theatre nurses take action over increased hours

Burnt out nurses went on strike last Thursday (27 June) after warning that a further hour extension to, already long, shifts risks patient safety and staff wellbeing.

Day surgery theatre nurses at Guys and St Thomas’ hospitals went on strike after bosses extended their shift finish times by an hour.

The 50 workers were already chronically overworked and the increase in shift times from 20:00 to 21:00 is now compromising patient safety because they are exhausted. 

Theatre staff had already had their shifts extended from 19:00 to 20:00 and have had to start working Saturdays to support extra theatre lists. 

Guys and St Thomas in central London is one of the UK’s busiest NHS trusts with 2.6 million patient contacts each year. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Guys and St Thomas’ theatre nurses were already running on fumes. They were working beyond their shifts to ensure patients were cared for properly.

“Our members understand the pressure the NHS is under but working staff until they break is not the answer. Guys and St Thomas’ leadership must find another way. Unite is dedicated to protecting the jobs, pay and conditions and the workers at Guys and St Thomas have the union’s total support throughout this dispute.”

The nurses took strike on 27 June, with another strike planned for 2 July (Tuesday). Further industrial action will be scheduled if the dispute is not resolved.

A Guys and St Thomas’ theatre nurse said: “Staff in the day surgery units at Guys and St Thomas’s hospitals are striking because they are tired of having their concerns over burnout and patient safety repeatedly ignored by managers. The situation has now reached crisis point, with nurses feeling like they have no option but to strike to protect themselves and their patients.”

Mark Boothroyd, A&E nurse and Unite branch secretary at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said, “The extension to shift times is part of the trust management’s attempts to get more operations through theatres and reduce the backlog. They can’t do this at the expense of staff. We need the government to put more investment into the NHS, and to NHS staff wages. They can’t keep pushing NHS workers to do more with the same meagre resources.”

By Keith Hatch

Photos by Mark Thomas