On Tuesday 16th July Unite members in the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust took part in a 24 hour strike over attempts to change working patterns in Pathology. This is the first in a whole series of potential cuts as the Trust is £40m in debt, despite not filling vacancies and other economies.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
One worker explained to how being ‘on call’ on nights has changed over the years due to cutbacks in staffing levels and increased workloads. She explained how when she started at the hospital you were genuinely ‘on call’ for emergencies during the night, but now its is just like another shift as their is a backlog of work from the daytime. As a result of how stretched the pathology departments are, she pointed out that the waiting times for samples to be tested have increased over the past few years.
The new shift patterns require more staffing than currently, but the trust doesn’t intend to hire any new staff to meet this need. Instead the existing workforce are to be expected to cover this too, worsening the current situation further. As one worker told me, they are already “running on fumes.” As if to add insult to inury, some workers will also suffer pay cuts of up to 40%.
The Trust have said they will impose these changes on the 26th August. That only leaves a short period of time for further action to be organised to defeat these proposals.