Theatre nurses to walk out on strike tomorrow over shift time extensions

Theatre nurses are due to take strike action at two central London hospitals over an extension of their shift times, the Unite union has announced.

Day surgery theatre nurses at Guy’s and St Thomas’ – of which there are about 50 – will walk out tomorrow after the end of their shift time was moved from 8pm to 9pm.

Theatre staff had already had their shifts extended from 7pm to 8pm, Unite said, and have had to start working Saturdays to support extra theatre lists.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Theatre nurses at Guys and St Thomas’ were already chronically overworked before shifts were extended and then extended again. The situation is now risking patient safety and staff wellbeing.

“These nurses are acutely aware of the strain NHS services are under but working them into to the ground will simply make things worse. Guys and St Thomas’ must find another solution to clearing the backlog. Our members have Unite’s total backing as they strike to end these unsustainable and dangerous shift extensions.”

Guys and St Thomas in central London is one of the UK’s busiest NHS trusts with 2.6million patient contacts each year. The trust said: “The vast majority of our theatre nurses will continue to finish at 8pm, as they have for the last ten years.

“Some theatre lists are required to run longer than the traditional end time to maximise capacity for patient surgery. Theatres nurses have worked ad hoc overtime when this happens or lists have over run.

“Staff told us that nurses were being asked to work beyond their normal hours once or twice a month on average.”

The union said staff are already “chronically overworked” and the change in shift time is “compromising patient safety because they are exhausted”. Unite said further industrial action will be scheduled if the dispute is not resolved.

The nurses previously took strike action on June 27, and July 2.

Unite branch secretary Mark Boothroyd said: “We cannot expect staff to just work for longer, sacrificing their personal lives to make up for 14 years of Conservative underinvestment in the NHS.”

Pictured top: Guy’s and St Thomas’ theatre nurses strike (Picture: Unite the Union)

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