400 nurses and other NHS workers strike over safety and pay!

NHS theatre nurses on the picket line at St Thomas’ Hospital last week

DAY surgery operating theatre nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital opposite Parliament are striking again today against having their shift times forcibly extended again!

The 50 workers warn that the increase in shift times from 20:00 to 21:00 is now compromising patient safety because they are exhausted.

The theatre staff had already had their shifts extended from 19:00 to 20:00 and have had to start working Saturdays to support extra theatre lists.

Guys and St Thomas in central London is one of the UK’s busiest NHS trusts, with 2.6 million patient contacts each year.

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said yesterday: ‘Theatre nurses at Guys and St Thomas’ were already chronically overworked before shifts were extended and then extended again. The situation is now risking patient safety and staff wellbeing.

‘These nurses are acutely aware of the strain NHS services are under but working them into the ground will simply make things worse.

‘Guys and St Thomas’ must find another solution to clearing the backlog. Our members have Unite’s total backing as they strike to end these unsustainable and dangerous shift extensions.’

The nurses previously took strike action on 27 June and 2nd July. Further industrial action will be scheduled if the dispute is not resolved.

Unite branch secretary Mark Boothroyd said: ‘Given the new Labour government wants to reduce waiting lists, this shows the need for greater investment in the NHS.

‘We cannot expect staff to just work for longer, sacrificing their personal lives to make up for 14 years of Conservative underinvestment in the NHS.’

Meanwhile, 350 hospital workers in the south of England begin two days of strike action today, accusing Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) of failing to pay the proper rate for the job.

The strike was backed by an overwhelming 98 per cent of the Unison membership in a formal ballot.

The workers, employed at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, Crawley Hospital and Horsham Hospital, are demanding pay that reflects their essential role in patient care.

They provide vital support to nurses and other clinical staff but have not been paid for extra duties they’ve had to take on, the union says.

The staff have been employed on band 2 of the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale, which means they should only undertake personal care tasks such as bathing or feeding patients.

But they regularly undertake clinical tasks like inserting cannulas, carrying out electrocardiogram (ECG) tests or taking blood samples, which should be paid at the higher band 3 rate.

The trust has acknowledged that staff are taking on additional, unpaid work, but has refused to compensate them for years spent working well above their pay grade.

This is despite the fact that, in similar disputes elsewhere, NHS staff have been compensated for work dating as far back as August 2018.

Additional strike dates have been set for July 25 and 26.

Unison South East regional organiser Rachel Slaughter said: ‘These dedicated workers provide incredible care for patients, over and above their job description. They’ve done this for years because they’re proud of the work they do. But the trust has been getting it on the cheap. Staff have seen others in a similar position across the country recognised for their extra work and mustn’t be left behind.’