Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

Socialist Equality Party members campaigning for the South West NHS Fightback campaign distributed over 600 leaflets and spoke to health workers on the morning shift change at the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust is one of 19 trusts across the South West of England to come together and form a Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium (PTC) with the aim of reducing wages and introduce performance based pay system, increase working hours, reduce unsocial hours payments, remove sickness absence enhancements and cut annual leave.

The response of the health unions to the savage attacks planned by the PTC has been a combination of fruitless petitions, protests and demonstrations aimed at pressurising the directors of various NHS Trusts and the Conservative/Liberal-Democrat coalition into changing their minds.

Anger and confusion at the role of unions was expressed by one nurse, who accused the unions of “abusing nurses” on the basis that “they know we won’t come out (on strike).”
What was needed was “for everyone to come out… a general strike,” she said, if the NHS was to be saved. She expressed agreement with the South West NHS Fightback campaign’s call for workers to break with the unions and form independent action committees.

A paramedic at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital could hardly contain his anger at the GMB union, which had stood idly by while he received a “disciplinary” for taking time off work due to a spinal injury caused by heavy lifting. He explained that in addition to the disciplinary he also received no sick pay and the GMB did nothing to help him. He had decided two weeks ago to cancel his union membership.

Significant numbers of workers stopped to pay their gratitude to the South West NHS Fightback campaigners for their presence at the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
Great Western Hospital (Swindon)

The South West NHS Fightback Campaign reached Swindon’s Great Western Hospital last Friday.

The Great Western Hospital was hit by a series of 20 one-day strikes earlier this year by porters and cleaners over claims of bullying and intimidation by private contractor Carillion.

The Great Western Hospital

After distributing leaflets and talking to workers for an hour, security guards questioned campaigners and asked if they have permission to be there. One worker informed us that the security guards were taking South West NHS campaign leaflets off of workers and telling them that they were not “allowed to read it”.

She came back and asked for another copy and several others to distribute to her colleagues. Hundreds of the campaign statements were distributed despite the interruptions from security and management.

One nurse said that she had been “thinking of leaving the Unite union for 2 years”. She agreed that Unite had collaborated in the implementation of continual and ever growing attacks on health workers and that despite paying £18 a month in union subscriptions, workers no longer had any representation. She particularly felt aggrieved with the health union’s role in selling Agenda for Change in 2004, by claiming that the radical reorganisation of job descriptions and work patterns would protect wages conditions.

A woman who was visiting the hospital thanked the campaigners, saying that the government was dismantling the health service and we should stand up against it. She was totally against the pay cuts to NHS staff.

Our campaign teams also received a warm response from workers in Melksham Community Hospital, St Martin’s Hospital in Bath and Community Hospital in Warminster. Hospital worker at Melksham approached Southwest NHS Fightback campaigners twice to have bundles of leaflets to distribute in rest rooms, departments and to display our statement in notice boards.