Unite members in London to strike while colleagues in Bristol and Manchester begin work-to-rule

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Blood transfusion test results will next week be hit by strike action over the threatened closure of the blood testing centre at Colindale in north London.

Unite members at Colindale’s NHS Blood and Transplant Testing (NHSBT)/ Microbiology Department are planning to take action from Wednesday 10th to Friday 12th October, and again from October 24th to 26th. They will also be starting a continuous overtime ban from October 10th.

They will be joined in the overtime ban by colleagues at the blood testing centres at Filton and Manchester who voted  to take action over increased workloads because of the Colindale closure.

The situation has taken a new twist by the fact the blood centre at Filton, near Bristol, which is meant to take up the slack when Colindale closes, has been shut for a week because of the recent heavy rain.

Unite said the closure of Filton has doubled the work at Colindale and by 300 per cent at the Manchester blood test centre – and reinforces the case that Colindale should not close.

Unite said that the fact the Filton is built on a flood plain, when heavier and concentrated rainfalls can be expected in the future because of climate change, exposes the flaws in the management’s case to close Colindale.

Unite’s head of health, Rachael Maskell said: “The heavy rains this week have put a dampener on the NHSBT’s proposals to shut the Colindale testing centre.

“The blood centre at Filton is out of action for about a week and shows what the centralisation of services could mean. It increases the case that the world class centre at Colindale should remain in operation.

“The fact that Filton is on a flood plain further exposes the flaws in the management’s plan to concentrate the work at Filton.

“NHSBT’s proposals will mean donations could be wasted and treatments delayed. What’s at stake here is the retaining of a centre of excellence in London and the south-east run by highly skilled and dedicated professionals.”

The crux of the dispute is the ‘business case’ – the consultation ended on September 21st – which would mean blood samples from London and the south east travelling for more than two hours for testing at Filton.

Rachael Maskell said: “Unite is not just fighting to save its members’ jobs at Colindale, but ensuring that blood samples are not sent on a drive of more than two hours to the West Country – patients deserve better than that.

“We want the future of Colindale safeguarded, as well as the centres at Filton and Manchester.

“The management has refused to talk to us. If there is no change in their attitude, this dispute will escalate – that’s how serious we believe the situation to be.

“The flooding at Filton reinforces the Unite argument.”

Unite members test samples of blood that is taken from donors to check on its features – and to assure that it is safe to use. Some highly specialist testing, such as ante natal testing is also involved.


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