Hospital blood testing staff at Preston and Chorley will be taking industrial action to protest against “dangerously low” staffing levels, it was revealed today.
The pathologists at Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals will start an overtime ban and withdraw from on call and rota cover from Monday in a continuing dispute over staffing levels with hospital management.
The workers, who test blood samples and monitor blood transfusions, are concerned about low staffing levels, high levels of stress and excessive hours which they claim could jeopardise patient care.
The pathologists, who are members of union Unite, staged a 24 hour strike in August to protest at the issue.
Steve Davies, Unite regional officer, said: “We understand there are austerity cuts in the NHS and part of this is the re-structuring and re-organisation of rota shifts.
“The biomedical scientists in the pathology departments are affected as they have been asked to do these shifts, but are not fully staffed.
“This has resulted in them having to work all kinds of shifts and hardly getting time to see their families.
“Locums were brought in to address the staffing levels but they have actually gone off sick themselves because of the high stress levels.
“The management is not listening to our legitimate concerns over patient safety and very reluctantly our members are starting an overtime ban and withdrawing from on call and rota cover arrangements from Monday.”
Karen Swindley, workforce and education director, said: “Unite has accused management of failing to enter constructive dialogue in an attempt to resolve the dispute. This is simply not true.
“We have consistently been seeking clarity about the issues that remain in dispute but to date this information has not been forthcoming.
“It is very difficult to resolve a dispute when the issues upon which we do not agree are not transparent and indeed Unite in their own press statement have cited different reasons for the action they are taking.
“I can confirm that when the changes to shift payments was made, the number of people on the rotas did not change and the hours worked on the rotas did not change. It is therefore unclear why these have been raised as an issue.
“We have advised the union we will be seeking support from ACAS as despite concerted efforts to understand the issues, neither Steve Davies or local representatives have to date provided the clarity necessary.”