London NHS strikes: Nearly 3,000 workers to take action over pay and staffing at four London Trusts

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A Unite survey from June found 57% of frontline workers felt staffing levels in the last year regularly compromised patient safety.

Nearly 3,000 London NHS workers are set to go on strike in September in a dispute over safe staffing levels and pay.

Members of the union Unite will be walking out at four Trusts based in the capital; Barts Health NHS Trust, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Trust (BHRUT), East London Foundation Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

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The union says staff shortages and low pay, with members rejecting a recent government offer due to it amounting to “another real terms pay cut”, have forced workers at the Trusts to take action.

A June survey of Unite NHS members found 48% of respondents felt staffing levels in the past year regularly reached a point where “patient care has been compromised and unsafe”, a figure rising to 57% for frontline staff.

Unite members at four London NHS Trusts will be striking in September. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.Unite members at four London NHS Trusts will be striking in September. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.
Unite members at four London NHS Trusts will be striking in September. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images. | Getty Images

1,000 workers at Barts are also in dispute with the Trust, as they failed to receive a £1,655 lump sum payment which was part of the 2022/23 NHS pay settlement.

Unite says this was due to them being outsourced to services company Serco, and so only in recent months were brought back into the NHS.

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A spokesperson for Barts confirmed this, saying: “A number of our staff were still employed by Serco on 31 March 2023 and do not qualify for the lump sum under the terms of the national NHS pay deal. We are committed to working with our staff and unions to find a resolution and avoid industrial action.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “NHS employers must stop sweeping the staffing crisis under the carpet. Hospitals are so short of staff that patients are frequently being put at risk. Until the fundamental causes of low pay and impossible working conditions are resolved, the problem is only going to get worse.”

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab added while the action will cause delays, “our members can’t take anymore.

“They have been raising serious concerns about staff levels for years but have been met by a wall of disdain and indifference.”

The strikes are planned to take place on:

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  • September 13-14 and then 16-22 at Barts
  • September 13-14 at BHRUT
  • September 13 at East London Foundation Trust
  • September 13-14 at Guy’s and St Thomas’

Unite said the planned action is “an initial phase”, with the strikes set to intensify “if NHS managers fail to act on Unite’s concerns”.

BHRUT, East London Foundation Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ have been approached for comment.

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