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Hospital on-call dispute escalates

A dispute which has been running in a desultory stop-go fashion for years has come to a head in one large hospital trust with the issuing of a consultation plan culminating in a ninety day notice of change of contract for any group of staff required to work on-call from home.

The background to this dispute has become very complex.

Traditionally in hospitals nurses and porters work shifts while other professions are on call as necessary, from home. Whitley council conditions provided payment of a fee for each call out. Working on call has always been voluntary (Doctors have always had separate arrangements.) Continual increase in activity in all areas has necesitated the busier departments agreeing ad hoc sessional payments with their staff. A great number of different payment systems have arisen.

The purpose of this move is to reduce the payment per call, remove the voluntary nature of out of hours working, and to remove the entitlement to compensatory time off. It is simply a large pay cut.

The consultation plan notionally targets traditional on call working but it is difficult to see how staff could be employed on two different contracts. It is intended as a divide and rule tactic but it is clear that if management can impose a ninety day notice on one group they’ll soon come for the rest of us!

Staff see this as another turn of the screw on top of years of increasing workloads, staff reductions,and below inflation pay rises. In a group of staff not traditionally militant the mood is changing to one of great anger.

Other groups of health workers in Yorkshire have already taken industrial action over down-banding and derecognition.

Watch this space!

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