Barnsley Nurses Strike!

Marchers in Nottingham last September demanding no cuts to NHS services
Marchers in Nottingham last September demanding no cuts to NHS services

Forty-five striking Operating Department Practitioners and theatre nurses were joined by other staff at lunchtime yesterday outside Barnsley Hospital.

The Barnsley nurses, members of the GMB trade union, were on a 24-hour strike after talks broke down last weekend in a dispute over pay-cutting.

Joan Keane, GMB Regional Officer for Health, told News Line yesterday: ‘Our members feel very strongly about the way they have been treated.

‘They are fed up and feel undervalued for the work that they do.

‘They are being told by the Trust that they will be downgraded, which means a pay cut.

‘But management still expect them to do the same skilled work. It’s a disgrace.’

Explaining the latest situation, Keane added: ‘We had a grievance hearing over two days last week.

‘We won’t get the outcome of those until Wednesday.

‘We told the Trust we were ready to meet them at any time in order to avoid industrial action.

‘We met with some managers last Friday.

‘We didn’t get anywhere with the dispute, all they wanted was to make sure there was cover on our strike day.

‘We are now waiting for the outcome of the chief executive’s deliberations which we expect to have on Wednesday.

‘We will meet with our members then to decide what we do next.’

The GMB members at Barnsley District NHS Foundation Trust last month voted to take industrial action, inclusive of strike action, after they were presented with a number of decisions by managers.

These included a reduction in cover at night on theatres.

This caused major concern amongst staff, as any reduction could mean that the department might be running below safe staffing levels.

Nurses said there was a real potential that staff and patients could be put at risk.

For nurses who work on theatres, not only do they face reduced staffing levels but they also face down-grading under new Agenda for Change terms and Conditions.

Keane said: ‘We are advised that the reason for this down-grading is because there are too many highly paid nurses in higher pay bands.’

Keane and Martin Jackson, GMB Nurse Representative, were told at a meeting with Trust managers on 1st May that the Trust needed to save £1.5 million on wages and also that there were too many nurses in the higher pay bands.