Tests from Berkshire GPs will not be processed from Friday 25 April at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in a dispute over reduced staffing levels and patient safety.
Pathology staff, who test and monitor blood and other specimens, are ‘putting a shot across the bows’ in a bid to get management to address their concerns.
The laboratory specialist staff, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, have voted for industrial action short of a strike by a margin of 83 per cent and for strike action with 58 per cent in favour.
The dispute started on 1 March when the management moved staff in haematology and transfusion, microbiology, bio chemistry and specimen reception onto a 24/7 shift pattern.
Unite regional officer Debbie Watson said: “Unless the trust introduces measures to address our members’ concerns over reduced staffing levels and patient safety, they will be taking industrial action from 25 April.
“The action will involve them not processing any samples outside the hospital itself. This will mean that tests from Berkshire GPs and other providers, such as private hospitals, will not be performed by our members.
“Our members want to make their strong feelings known, but, at the same time, they want critically ill patients to receive treatment.
“They believe that by restricting the amount of tests that they perform to those patients within the hospital, this will still ensure that patients in the hospital will get the appropriate care.
“This is a very much a shot across the trust management’s bows and we would urge them to negotiate a constructive agreement that addresses members concerns before 25 April.
“This dispute is about patient safety and work life balance; coupled with a feeling that staff have been ignored when they have aired legitimate concerns.
“We have already warned that there are not enough staff to run the shifts safely – but the trust has ploughed on regardless.”
Unite has said that what is happening at Reading is not unique across England in a cash strapped NHS. Similar circumstances have been reported in Leeds, Milton Keynes and in the North West.
For further information please contact:
Debbie Watson on 07798 531 029 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Notes to editors
• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.