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Unison members gather against hospital proposals
HEALTH workers have picketed a meeting of NHS chiefs over proposals they fear will mean less pay and poorer working conditions.
Members of Unison, representing various NHS workers, gathered with banners outside the Poole NHS Foundation Trust’s board of governors meeting at the Salvation Army building in Old Orchard, Poole.
Union members fear the consortium – including 20 other south west health trusts – is working to reduce hospital staff pay bills across the region.
They believe health chiefs are primed to increase working hours without additional pay, cut annual leave and reduce sick pay and other benefits.
However, despite discussion documents being published on its Meeting the Challenge website, no firm proposals have yet been made.
Among those picketing on Thursday was Poole Hospital staff nurse Arabella Wilson. She told the Daily Echo: “I’m here because I don’t want to lose the benefits we get for working unsocial hours. Sick pay, annual leave, this could all be affected.
“I think patient care will suffer, as a workforce with low morale cannot be good for them.”
Her colleague, Poole Hospital staff nurse Amanda Dennison said: “Times are tough at the moment. We work a lot of unsocial hours, a lot of nights. Why should we work more unsocial hours for less money. It is not fair - I’m trying to buy a house at the moment.”
The atmosphere outside the Salvation Army building, between the picketers and governors was friendly, with the protestors even invited inside for refreshments.
Meanwhile, Mike Cracknell of Unison, said: “The board recently approved the payment of £10,000 from our Trust to the South West Regional Pay Consortium.
“This money is being used to ‘explore and develop’ regional alternatives to NHS terms and conditions.
“Staff morale is currently the worst it has ever been. Ultimately, it will be patient care that suffers.”
‘Vital staff can air views’
POOLE Hospital boss Chris Bown said: “Trusts continue to seek to engage with staff representatives, including unions, on issues arising from the work of the south west pay, terms and conditions consortium.
“It is vital that staff have the opportunity for their views to be heard, and for employers in turn to listen and to provide information that promotes understanding of why the area of pay, terms and conditions is being looked at as a way of supporting trusts in securing stability in employment, services and finances.”