97.3% VOTE FOR STRIKE ACTION! –at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital

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GMB members on strike in defence of pensions at St George’s Hospital in Tooting last November 30
GMB members on strike in defence of pensions at St George’s Hospital in Tooting last November 30

porters, theatre technicians, catering, cleaning and other NHS support workers, employed by private contractor Carillion at Great Western Hospital in Swindon, have voted by 97.3% for strike action.

The 150 GMB members are staging a rally outside the hospital at lunchtime today and union officials are to meet with Shop Stewards to decide when to strike, in a dispute over bullying by management.

GMB submitted a formal complaint by 109 staff over allegations of bullying in December.

Over the last month over 90 staff members have given evidence of terrible bullying.

The manager in question has still not been suspended by Carillion, and is still involved in supervising these staff.

The hospital was one of the first built under the Private Finance Initiative, at a cost of £148 million, with Carillion as the lead contractor.

It opened in 2002 to replace the Princess Margaret Hospital, which had served the town since 1959.

The hospital includes an Accident and Emergency Department which sees approximately 50,000 patients per year, an Acute Assessment Unit, an eight-bedded Intensive Care Unit, an Intermediate Care Centre on site, a Health and Social Care Education Centre called the academy, and a wide range of wards and clinics, including 400 in-patient beds, serving approximately 300,000 people.

Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Organiser said yesterday: ‘A strike now seems inevitable if Carillion does not progress this, as a date for strike action will have to be fixed soon as the members want an end to the bullying in the hospital.

‘GMB has created an initial strike fund of £50,000 to support their members if they do take industrial action. This matter will not be resolved until the bullying is dealt with.’

• A son whose 49-year-old mother died after a 41-minute wait for a paramedic in Monmouth last year, handed in a petition to the Welsh Assembly yesterday, urging a dedicated ambulance service for their town.

The coroner said Jacqueline Davies’s death in January 2011 may have been contributed to by a ‘significant failing’ of the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Mathew Davies, presented the petition on the steps of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay yesterday.

He said: ‘I’m hoping there will be agreement to what the petition is calling for – to get a dedicated ambulance for Monmouth.’

• More than 90% of British Medical Journal readers responding to a poll published yesterday think the government’s health reforms should be scrapped.

The poll asked: ‘Should the Health and Social Care Bill for England now be withdrawn?’

A total of 2,947 votes were cast on bmj.com over the last seven days. Of these, 2,706 said Yes, while 241 said No.

Dr Fiona Godlee, BMJ Editor-in-Chief said: ‘This poll reflects the extent of the opposition to this bill among doctors.

‘We also have consistent anecdotal feedback suggesting that initial support for the aims of the government’s proposed changes has haemorrhaged over the past year.

‘Good people have left PCTs, and GPs are understandably unwilling to shift their role from patients’ advocates to rationers of health care.’