Four hundred Theatre Nurses and Practitioner members of health care union UNISON at St Georges hospital, South London, have started balloting in an “indicative” ballot that could, if agreed lead to official industrial action at St Georges by nurses for the first time in twenty three years.
UNISON the health care union has been angered at the plans to implement Tory Led Government health cuts at St Georges Hospital, Tooting. In particular nurses and technical staff are angry at the decision to press ahead with major changes to the rotas, duties and pay of four hundred Theatre nurses and practitioners.
These changes would see staff suffer pay cuts, day staff forced to work night duty and some of those with childcare commitments forced to quit Theatres. This means the loss of many dedicated and experienced NHS staff. Nursing Staff (many of whom are women) will also be forced to work a late shift which finishes at 10pm, forcing them to make their way back home across London in the dark.
UNISON Regional Officer Michael Walker condemned the move and stated:-
“When this Government of millionaires are telling hard pressed professional Theatre nurses that they need to cut their pay, work nights and walk home late at night, you can understand why nursing staff are so angry.
It would seem that the Government and some managers have totally lost all understanding of compassion and fairness in the way they treat dedicated nurses, in their quest to implement Government cuts to the NHS.”
UNISON Branch Secretary Geoff Thorne states :-
“It is regrettable that, despite UNISON’s best efforts to resolve these issues, it now looks inevitable that we are heading towards industrial action by nurses and practitioners, a situation created by management’s refusal to sit down and discuss child care and pay protection arrangements.
UNISON will now be waging a vigorous campaign in the community, and amongst consultants and NHS professionals at the hospital to highlight the plight of dedicated NHS nurses and staff at St Georges Hospital.”
UNISON Nursing Convenor Jane Pilgrim stated:-
“I remain hopeful that even at this late stage, we can still sit down and resolve the outstanding issues affecting nursing staff so that patients can continue to receive high quality services,.
Management at St Georges have left nursing and professional staff in a very invidious position where they either allow management to significantly cut the pay and conditions or they are reluctantly take some form of industrial action”.