Sunderland health staff to walk out over pay row

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RADIOGRAPHERS are set to strike in Wearside for the first time in more than 30 years over pay freezes.

Diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy professionals who are members of the Society of Radiographers will take part in a UK-wide strike on Monday, October 20.

It’s unclear how many employees at Sunderland Royal’s radiology department, will be walking out at this early stage, following the ballot which saw 53.7 per cent of members voting in favour of strike action.

However, it’s understood that the majority of workers are members of the society and will be entitled to take part in the four-hour strike.

A spokesman from City Hospitals Sunderland said: “The trust’s overriding statutory obligation is to provide high quality and safe services to patients – during any periods of industrial action, we will implement contingency plans in order to meet those obligations, particularly so they do not affect emergency and critical care.

“It is not possible at this stage to know how many staff will take part in the industrial actions, but we would reassure local people that we aim to ensure that services across the trust and quality of patient care are compromised as little as possible.” The action is being taken by members of the society and other NHS trade unions because of a pay freeze.

The Government rejected a recommended one per cent pay rise for the current year and Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary for England, has said that there will be no increase in 2015. The pay freeze will have been imposed for four out of five years.

Richard Evans, the society’s chief executive officer, said: “Radiographers who work in the NHS in the four countries of the UK will participate.

“They will try to keep the effect on patients to a minimum but radiographers and other healthcare workers have got to the stage that they feel there is no alternative.”

He added: “There is a shortage of radiographers, which already has an effect on the timely delivery of diagnostic examinations and the treatment of cancer, which has direct negative consequences on patients.

“Without reasonable and proper recognition of the work that they do, it’s increasingly likely that qualified professionals will leave radiography and it will become even more difficult to recruit the additional people which are needed.”