GMB trade union members at Barnsley Hospital have voted to take strike action in a dispute following the introduction of Agenda for Change.
The members are employed as high level nurses, operating department practitioners, recovery nurses and nurses across the Trust.
In two separate ballots, GMB members voted by 85 per cent for industrial action including strike action and 96 per cent in favour of industrial action other than strike action.
The dispute arose after operating department practitioners and nurses in theatres have been informed that there will be a reduction in emergency cover at night.
They were also told that their shift patterns will change. Theatre staff at night provide emergency services for patients and residents of Barnsley.
GMB said it will ensure that any action taken will not affect emergency or trauma care and will have as little impact on patient’s services as possible.
Joan Keane, GMB Regional Organiser for Health said: ‘GMB members have not taken this decision to take industrial action lightly.
‘They are of the view that they are being treated very badly by the trust and are being put in a position where patient care will suffer and services will be compromised if these changes are implemented.
‘This is also a last resort to try and get management to change their mind.
‘Following the introduction of Agenda for Change terms and conditions, groups of highly skilled staff have recently been told of a restructuring of posts and service provision.
‘The Trust now wish to deal with the emergency maternity service using an on-call system, which will clearly not provide pregnant mothers with the service they require nor indeed patient choice.
‘Nurses throughout the trust also provide a variety of specialist services to patients. They have voted for action short of a strike.
‘Nurses have been told they will be downgraded but are expected to continue to carry out the same work.
‘The job evaluation process was completed 18 months ago. They are now being offered the opportunity to continue to provide very valuable services to patients, but they will be paid less for the privilege.
‘GMB representatives have tried in vain to negotiate with management. They have offered suggestions and have requested full and proper consultation, but management have not agreed to meet.’
l UNISON yesterday condemned the awarding of a multi-million five-year contract awarded to a private company based in Rochdale to provide diagnostic tests for London patients.
Under the deal, tests, X-rays and scans will be sent to InHealth Netcare’s office in Rochdale, Lancashire, which will then contact patients to tell them to attend one of the company’s 46 London sites to book an appointment.
GPs are worried both that such arrangements will cause delays and also the scheme will undermine NHS diagnostic services, leading to cuts and sackings.
Public sector union UNISON’s health spokeswoman told News Line: ‘We’re opposed to such contracts. We know it would be better to carry out tests within the NHS.
‘Time after time that has proved cheaper. It would be better for patients if money was directed to increase NHS capacity rather than pouring more into the private sector.’