Health staff on strike

Pickets were outside Johnson Community Hospital today.
Pickets were outside Johnson Community Hospital today.
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Staff at Spalding’s Johnson Community Hospital and regional ambulance personnel were among thousands of health workers staging a four-hour strike today (Monday) over pay.

Pickets were outside the hospital on Pinchbeck Road between 7am-11am, but health chiefs say there was only “minimal disruption”.

More disruption is expected at hospitals and ambulance stations across the country with a four-day work to rule involving nurses, midwives and ambulance staff starting tomorrow (Tuesday).

The Spalding hospital is run by Lincolnshire Community Health Services Trust with some services run by partners, including United Lincolnshire Health Trust which manages the bigger hospitals in the county like Pilgrim at Boston.

The community trust declined to say how many workers walked out.

Maz Frosh, director of workforce and transformation at the community trust, said: “We fully respect the rights of our staff to join national industrial action should they wish to do so.

“We have experienced minimal disruption within our local services, which have been operating as normal, but also have robust contingency plans in place should there be any future disruption to ensure patients can continue to be cared for both in our hospitals and community teams.”

The United Lincolnshire Trust said it had 66 members of staff on strike.

A spokesman said yesterday: “The industrial action on Monday, October 13, is a national day of action.

“We have put plans in place to make sure services continue to run safely and as smoothly as possible, and prioritise patient care. At this stage we have not made plans to cancel clinics or reduce patient services on the day of action.

“We have 66 members of staff currently striking but we are keeping the situation under review.”

East Midlands Ambulance Service was unable to comment on how its services were affected across Lincolnshire before the Free Press deadline.

Nationally there were reports of ambulance services developing backlogs.

Workers from seven trades unions were involved.

It’s the first NHS strike over pay in more than 30 years.

Ministers in England have awarded NHS staff a one per cent pay increase, but only for those who don’t get automatic rises for the jobs they do.

Unison, one of the health unions involved, wants the one per cent paid on all hourly rates and for its workers to be paid the ‘Living Wage’ of £7.65 per hour as a minimum.

The union also wants to break a pay-freeze planned for 2015-16 and a commitment on cost of living pay rises for the future.