Talks in dispute over job and pay cuts at cash-strapped NHS trust

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HOSPITAL bosses and unions will meet tomorrow for talks in a dispute which has seen scores of staff at Yorkshire hospitals walk out on strike.

The action centres on plans by the financially-stricken Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to cut pay and slash 44 posts among administrative staff including medical secretaries and receptionists.

The measures are designed to slash the pay bill at the NHS trust which runs hospitals in Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury as it seeks to make £24m in savings in the year to March.

Staff last week walked out in three days of strike action and have voted to escalate the dispute unless management make concessions.

Interim chief executive Stephen Eames said the trust had invited unions for discussions he hoped would be “constructive”.

He said: “Our absolute priority is to provide safe, high quality, sustainable care for our patients.

“To do this we must have a workforce that is financially viable but which is also designed to best meet our service needs.”

He added: “The changes we are currently looking at are about making sure that we safeguard patient services and therefore the jobs of those who provide healthcare services. We need a workforce that is fit for purpose and affordable within our means.”

Jim Bell, from Unison, said an announcement over future action had been delayed pending the outcome of the talks but if no progress was made it would be escalated. So far management had been willing to take part in discussions but had failed to negotiate, he claimed. “We regard this as an invitation to negotiate. If there are no negotiations, it will be a short meeting. There’s been no attempt to resolve the situation which we think is a big shame because services are damaged and our members lose pay.”