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‘Pushed against the wall’

Pathologists to strike for a week over new shifts row at Barking NHS trust
Shaun Noble, Thursday, October 31st, 2019

Pathologists at a north east London NHS trust will strike on Monday (November 4) for a week in a dispute over new shift patterns which, it is claimed, could compromise the integrity of patients’ samples.

Unite, which represents 88 biomedical scientists working at Queen’s Hospital, Romford and King George Hospital, Ilford who face losing about £10,000 a year, said its members would strike from 9.00am on Monday (November 4) until 08.59am on Monday, November 11.

The pathologists will hold a rally at King George Hospital IG3 8YB in the bus station area at 11.00am on Monday (November 4).

Unite members provide vital sample testing services to the two hospitals, as well as to GP practices across the area.

Unite warned the analysing of hundreds of patients’ blood samples by the pathologists, who are employed by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, would be delayed.

The crux of the dispute is the lack of consultation by trust bosses in planning to move the present ‘on call’ system to a seven day a week shift system – the latest date for this imposition is Monday (November 4).

Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said, “Our members are faced with an intransigent hardline management which refuses to enter into mature and constructive negotiations with Unite.

“Now our members have reluctantly decided to take a week’s strike action against plans to cut their pay by £10,000 a year and which will lead to an unsafe service for patients.

“Unfortunately, it will mean that hundreds of patients’ samples will be delayed which we deeply regret, but our members feel that they have been pushed against the wall by the bosses,” she added.

“Responsibility for this dispute lies squarely with trust executives who have failed to meaningfully consult Unite members about these changes.

“The new date for the imposition of this roster is now scheduled for Monday, but even this roster is a mess with many shifts not covered and staff being rostered on days they have already told the trust they cannot work.

“Unite has urged the trust to put the new system ‘on hold’ and meet us to try to resolve the dispute, but management has refused,” Hydon went on to say.

“Management doesn’t appreciate that our members have childcare and caring responsibilities, as well as other commitments outside of work.

“The trust has given four different implementation dates this year so our members have had to rearrange their lives only for these dates to be withdrawn at the last minute causing enormous disruption to their family lives.

“Our members stand to lose over £10,000 a year in ‘on call’ payments, but they are also concerned that the management shambles will result in an unsafe service for patients.

“Members continue to believe that the management has not put in place safe levels of staffing for the shifts which will lead to delays and mistakes in patient test results.

“The trust’s own staff survey shows that the hospitals have become increasingly difficult places to work in over the last two years and morale is rock bottom. A third of employees are thinking of leaving. Staff turnover, running at 14 per cent, is higher than the NHS average (10 per cent).

“The situation is exacerbated by a recruitment crisis in the pathology department and many of the shifts will not have a safe level of staffing, which should be of serious concern for the 750,000 people covered by the trust, who rely on this service for the analysing of vital blood samples.”



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