POA Circulars

92 | 12.11.2015

Strike Action Ashworth Branch

I write to confirm that there will be a 24 hour strike at the above branch from 7am 13th November 2015 until 7am on 14th November 2015. This will encompass all members in the Mersey Care Trust that are POA members. The trades dispute was surrounding the disgraceful decision to dismiss our members Mr Hilton and Mr Gregson for defending themselves against a violent patient. Ironically, the patient was convicted of assault on two nurses. He head butted one nurse and spat in the face of Mr Hilton. During the violent restraint the patients slipper was used by Mr Hilton as a barrier to prevent the patient spitting in his face further. At no time during the restraint did the slipper block the airways of the patient, unlike the nurses there were no injuries to the patient. In fact, the slipper was used for a total of approximately 15 seconds. Mr Gregson was dismissed for not reporting that a slipper was used. You can hardly report something you have not seen. Incidentally, at least six other witnesses said they had not seen the slipper either. Mr Hilton informed his line Manager directly after the incident that he had used a slipper to protect himself and other staff from the patient spitting.

Discussions have taken place with Mersey Care Management but they will not move from their original position. As late as 2pm this afternoon negotiations stalled so the strike goes ahead even although the POA have been threatened with an application for injunctive relief to stop the strike. We are confident that our ballot is legal and would stand the scrutiny of a high court judge. There will also be industrial action short of strike action in the coming weeks. I will not rule out further strike action.

Once this is in the public domain, I am sure the general public will be appalled and supportive of our action. Strike action is always a last resort. I accept there should always be a duty of care towards patients in the secure psychiatric establishments but there must also be a duty of care to the brave nurses that are our members in that environment.

The POA will be calling for an independent review into this case. I am sure every member will send our colleagues best wishes and solidarity for their actions in support of their dismissed colleagues.

Please send messages of support to Cronin House and I will ensure they are passed on to the branch.

Yours sincerely

General Secretary