Southampton General Image: Google

Isle of Wight patients will not be affected by a 24-hour strike at Southampton General Hospital, says the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

Today’s (Friday) walk out by A&E security staff is part of an ongoing dispute over safety, pay and sick leave.

Unite the Union says employees of security service provider Mitie are being attacked while at work.

Unite’s lead officer for health in the South East claimed talks broke down as the security firm “failed to provide sufficient guarantees about the introduction of the vital protective equipment”.

Scott Kemp added:

“Mitie said that it is prepared to look at stab vests; however, there is no timescale associated with their introduction and no guarantee that they would be approved by the trust’s infection control team.

“Unite also asked that leg restraints be used across the hospital rather than just in A&E. Again, the Mitie bosses said they can’t guarantee that will happen as they will have to ask the trust.

“On sick pay, Mitie offered an increase to four weeks full pay followed by four weeks half pay, but it remains the case that this applies only if someone is injured carrying out their role. There has been no real movement on this.

“Lastly, Mitie offered an increase on the base rate for security officers to £9 an hour with no increase for supervisors. There has been no movement at all on unsocial weekend payments.”

Responding to today’s strike, a spokesperson for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said:

“We have been reassured by the measures taken by Mitie to maintain its security service across our hospitals over the course of strike action and hope that Mitie and Unite can continue to work together to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible.”

A Mitie spokesperson said told Isle of Wight Radio Unite was “unwilling” to enter “constructive conversations”.

The firm added:

“We have offered a substantial percentage increase to £9.00 an hour for our public facing staff equating to a 9% rise in the last 7 months, since September 2018. We had already agreed a further 2% increase for this coming February, this will total an 11% increase in 18 months.

“In addition to the investment already made in body worn cameras, safety gauntlets and the gloves recently issued, the site team had already tested additional body worn protection with further trials due to take place imminently.

“Ensuring the safety of patients and members of the public visiting the hospital remains paramount. We have arranged for a fully trained team of officers with relevant experience to provide cover onsite to maintain a usual level of service.”