Healthcare staff and patient safety during strike action

‘How should healthcare staff maintain patient safety should strike action take place?’

Elaine Sparkes
Elaine Sparkes, CSP assistant director for employment relations and union services asks important question about NHS pay...

The CSP will shortly open a formal ballot for industrial action for members in Scotland over NHS pay. 

We will follow this up with further formal votes in England and Wales.  

Our members will have understandable concerns about how strike action might impact patient safety. It is the responsibility of individual employers to consider emergency cover in preparation for any potential industrial action and discuss this with trade unions at local level. 

As such we would expect the main discussions to take place between local managers and unions, once industrial action ballot results are known, supplemented by specific discussions in particular departments or specialist areas. 

We cannot issue definitive guidance on what is and what is not appropriate in each service as this will vary from service to service.  This may for example include a critically ill patient with a respiratory condition that requires urgent attention. Within physiotherapy we would expect stewards and managers to discuss and agree what services and what staffing levels are required.  

The key is to maintain patient safety and decide which services must continue to prevent patients being put at risk. 

Local consideration will also need to be given to adequate supervision for staff who are working on a day when there is a strike, taking into account competence and safe levels of practice and also any health and safety risks for lone-workers. 

Members will also need to be mindful of the requirement to share information with colleagues and the duty to keep clear and accurate records, which becomes particularly important when alternative cover is provided. 

In your discussions with your employer locally, it would be helpful to flag up that the CSP never wanted to be in the position of balloting for industrial action and it is still our hope that the UK’s governments, even at this late stage, will be prepared to enter into genuine talks aimed at reaching a negotiated settlement to the current dispute. 

More information

Read our latest advice here on the industrial ballot in Scotland.   

Number of subscribers: 1

Log in to comment and read comments that have been added