OPERATIONS at Warrington Hospital are set to be cancelled as theatre staff take industrial action following a four year dispute over changes to their terms and conditions.
Warrington & Halton NHS Trust are advising all patients to attend as planned unless they have been directly contacted bythe hospital to reschedule their procedure. Emergency procedures are not affected.
Theatre staff are withdrawing their labour for four hour periods between 1pm -5pm on Friday 18th August, 8am and 12noon on Monday 21st August and 1pm -5pm and Friday 25th.
Only procedures carried out at Warrington Hospitals are affected, Halton and CMTC hospitals are not affected.
Warrington Theatre staff have been ‘working to rule’ during negotiations over changes to their terms and conditions. This has included an overtime ban which has already impacted on patients having their planned operations rescheduled.
In a statement the Trust said they had made four separate and improved offers, most recent of which was recommended by their own union, Unite. The Trust’s offer of mediation had also been rejected outright.
Eighty per cent of staff voted to take strike action claiming the changes in their terms and conditions affected patient safety.
A spokes person for the Trust said: “We sincerely apologise to those patients that have and will be affected by this action and affirm our commitment to continue to negotiate in order to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”
The dispute has arisen as the Trust proposed to change the way that staff are rostered and reimbursed to ensure a fair and equitable system for all theatre staff.
Currently theatre nurses and care assistants are required to work a shift system covering 24/7 each day of the year. A historic local agreement has seen a small group of Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) receive significantly enhanced compensation and paid rest time for hours worked beyond their early or late day shifts, some taking home nearly double that of their nurse colleagues.
But Union officials claim their members are being “held to ransom” and warned strike action could escalate if the dispute was not resolved.
Members were working under stress and had suffered cuts to pay over the past four years.