Resort NHS staff set to walk out

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Hospital bosses in Blackpool today pledged to have “contingency plans” in place for patients when staff walk out next month in a row over pay.

Blackpool and the Fylde members of UNISON will walk out in protest against the Government’s policy on pay on 
October 13.

The strike itself will last for four hours from 7-11am, but will then be followed up by four days of a “take your break” action, where staff will insist on taking all their breaks instead of working through them.

The strike will see some nurses, healthcare staff and porters walk out.

Union bosses could not put a figure on how many people in Blackpool will take part, but said they expect the strike to be well supported.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “NHS members don’t take action often or lightly. For many of our members this will be the first time they walk out as the last action over pay was 32 years ago.

“The NHS runs on the goodwill of its workers, but this Government has shown utter contempt for them.”

Senior regional organiser Tim Ellis said the action is beingsupportedin Blackpool and the Fylde as the NHS is “starved of funds” which has meant staff have been doing more work for less pay.

He claims some workers are even visiting food banks in order to feed themselves and their families.

The union says it is still hoping to get the Government around the negotiating table to avoid the need for action.

But bosses at Blackpool Victoria Hospital say plans are in place ahead of the October 13 action.

Pat Oliver, Director of 
Operations at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Trust has well thought out contingency plans for industrial action and we will work with unions to ensure patient safety isn’t compromised.”

The Department of Health has said the NHS couldn’t 
afford the union’s demands.

The Government has given NHS staff a one per cent pay rise, but not for those who get automatic progression-in-the-job increases.

Those increases are given to about half of staff and are worth three per cent a year on average. That went against the recommendation of the independent pay review board, which called for an across-the-board rise.