Unite, the UK’s largest union, has today (Monday 30 June) called on Northampton General Hospital ‘to come clean’ on fears that it is ‘playing Russian roulette’ with patient safety, as its unprecedented ‘lock out’ of 78 biomedical scientists enters its fifth day.
Unite says patients at Northampton General Hospital are facing delays of more than six hours for blood test results as inexperienced staff with inadequate training struggle to cope with demand.
The union’s members, who voted for industrial action short of strike, including bans on overtime and out-of-hour working, would provide a far safer service, guaranteeing results in two hours and sooner, if requested by the casualty department, despite the action.
Unite members, who face losing their jobs this week for failing to sign new contracts on worse terms and conditions, have been banned from the workplace since last Thursday (26 June).
Further safety fears have been sparked by reports that managers, acting as cover in the pathology department, have been working around the clock after being asked to sign forms to opt out of the 48 hour European working time directive.
Unite regional officer Mick Orpin, said: “The people of Northampton deserve answers; the management at Northampton General Hospital is acting dangerously and recklessly by denying patients the skill and expertise of professional biomedical scientists. It is playing Russian roulette with patient safety.
“Patients have been left waiting for many hours in stressful situations for their test results when under the Unite action they would be guaranteed a result in two hours and sooner, if requested by casualty.
“It beggars belief that an NHS trust could be guilty of such a disgraceful abuse of power. It’s the first time in living memory that NHS workers have been banned from entering the workplace for exercising their legal right to take action.
“Unite has no doubt that the trust’s aim all along has been to break our members and deny them a fair chance to have their concerns heard. We are shocked at the viciousness and heavy-handedness of the attack on our members.
“Our members are understandably anxious and upset at the threat of losing up to £6,000 a year and of having their work life balance thrown into disarray under the new contracts and are again calling on the trust to sit down and negotiate in a meaningful way.”
The new contracts will see workers forced to double their night time shifts from seven days in 14 weeks to 14 days in 14 weeks, while out-of-hours payments are slashed by 80 per cent.
A typical biomedical scientist earns between £21,000-£35,000-a-year and will have a university degree, often Masters’ degrees, plus additional post graduate training and many years’ experience.
For further information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777
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.