Socialist Worker

Mid Yorks NHS workers are preparing for battle

by Sarah Ensor
Issue No. 2346


Health secretary Jeremy Hunt was met by a demonstration at Worthing hospital last week

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt was met by a demonstration at Worthing hospital last week (Pic: Stephen McLean)


Some 3,000 health workers at Mid Yorkshire NHS foundation trust are set to be balloted.

Bosses at the trust went back on their agreement to meet with the union and the conciliation service Acas on Thursday of last week.

The Unison union branch committee voted last Friday to ballot the whole branch.

The trust management announced last year their plan to claw back £1.5 million from the medical secretaries and admin staff.

These workers are essential to the clinics that organise and deliver care—from cancer to children’s and elderly health.

Bosses announced last Thursday that the downbanding offer was final and that workers had until Thursday of this week to sign up. If workers accept the contracts it would mean wage cuts of up to £2,700 a year

Bosses also claimed to be making a final improved offer of up to 18 months’ pay protection and an additional six months’ pay protection in a lump sum.

But this is another cut as workers previously had three years’ pay protection.

The trust says it needs to save money—but its financial priorities are ideological. Last year it paid management consultants Ernst & Young—who came up with the pay cut package—over £3 million.

Over £40 million a year goes to repay the trust’s PFI debt. And the chief executive enjoys a salary of £250,000 a year.

One manager also let slip in January that cancer clinic staff levels during strike cover—the bare minimum—is what they want in future.

Hospital staff, from medical secretaries to consultants, have said that the trust’s voluntary redundancy scheme is putting patient care at risk.

This is about cutting back services they deem unprofitable to make the trust more attractive to the giant private healthcare providers.

The workers have struck twice—for four days before Christmas and for five days at the end of January. Over 200 have joined Unison since September.

The strikers won massive solidarity from other workers. Union meetings were set for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

A big yes vote for strikes across the branch now can save jobs, stop the pay cuts and turn back creeping privatisation.

The Department of Health has underspent £900 million so far this year, figures published in last week’s budget showed.

Now it is planning to send £500 million of this money back to the Treasury. This means that health bosses are cutting staff and services more and faster than even the government planned.

There are 3,500 fewer community and hospital nurses working in the National Health Service than there were last year.

And a new report says 44 percent of nurses in Britain say they are looking to leave their jobs.

Some 1.4 percent of NHS staff have gone since last year. Some of these are managers. But more importantly support staff are down 5.9 percent as cuts bite and vacancies go unfilled.

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Thu 28 Mar 2013, 13:04 GMT
Issue No. 2346
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