STAFF confronted bosses at Dorset County Hospital over their controversial decision to join a regional pay cartel.

Board members arriving at their monthly meeting were met by around 50 protestors angry at the hospital’s involvement in a consortium of 20 trusts in the South West looking at pay, terms and conditions.

Union representatives also had a chance to ask questions of the board at the meeting.

Area organiser for Unison South West Jon Dunn said he was impressed so many staff had turned out to lobby the board members, with some even coming straight off a 12-hour night shift to join the protest.

He said he hoped the board would take note of the strength of feeling among staff and consider withdrawing from the consortium.

Mr Dunn said: “The trust board has it in its power to leave the consortium.

“There are national pay discussions ongoing and we have a couple of issues which we are prepared to negotiate on that could achieve economies.”

He added that a move towards regional pay would see staff look elsewhere for a more attractive package of pay, terms and conditions, which would see healthcare in the region suffer.

Martin Shepherd from the Unite union has worked at the hospital as a pharmacist for 27 years.

He told board members: “Overall the morale in the hospital is as low as I have ever seen it in 27 years.”

Also joining in the protest were members of the GMB union, the Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives.

Responding to questions at the meeting, Dorset County Hospital’s director of human resources Mark Power said the trust would wait to see what concrete proposals emerge from the work of the consortium before deciding on whether to proceed with them or not.

He said that the hospital had made savings across the board and needed to look at staff costs, which accounted for two thirds of its expenditure and were rising year on year.

Mr Power said: “If we are to safeguard hospital services and jobs, then we must look at all other options for controlling a pay bill that is becoming unaffordable.”

The board turned down a request from the unions to present directly to members when it does look at the completed business case that will be put forward by the consortium.

However, Mr Power said he will meet with representatives and will make it clear to all board members what views the staff take.

Passing Motorists Toot Support For The Campaign

PASSING motorists beeped their horns in support as dozens of hospital staff members and union representatives made their protest ahead of the meeting.

Many carried placards expressing their discontent with the hospital’s involvement in the pay consortium and their fears over the move towards regional pay.

Ward nurse Lucy Walton, who represented the Royal College of Nursing at the meeting, said: “I hope the board will listen, we feel a bit rail roaded and the moral is dropping because of the changes proposed.

“If they are implemented the impact will be phenomenal for nursing staff.”

Fellow RCN member Kaylie Moore added: “I think it’s quite clear the effect it has had on moral and there has been difficulty covering shifts.

“Nursing is run on an awful lot of goodwill and its beginning to go.”

Derrick Baker from the GMB union said: “The GMB is totally against regional pay.

“Why should a nurse in Dorchester get any different from a nurse in Dover or anywhere else doing the same job?”

Patient governor at the hospital Andy Hutchings joined the protestors and said, while he appreciated savings needed to be made, it was important the board went about them in the right way.

He said: “I totally support the opposition to the pay cartel.

“The damage it has done to staff morale should not have been allowed.”