The Gibraltar Health Authority takes note of Unite the Union’s press release dated 2nd December 2021 on matters relating to the consultant gynaecologists engaged within the maternity services of the GHA and is disappointed that it has chosen to take this action.
Following the union’s meeting with the GHA last week, and ahead of the restructure of the GHA already afoot, the Minister of Health also additionally met with them yesterday in order to try to assist to unblock the situation.
To be clear, the situation is as follows:
There are two out of the four gynaecologists who work in the GHA whose contracts expire at the end of December and the end of January. A third one’s contract expires in June 2022.
The GHA have already embarked in a process of recruiting locum cover in the short term and in parallel will be recruiting substantively.
This process has been explained to Unite the Union.
More significantly, when Unite asked the GHA to consider extending these contracts, this request was considered by the GHA. Unfortunately, issues of clinical concern came to light arising from the care provided by some of these concerned. As a result, the GHA is not prepared to consider the union’s request to extend the contracts further upon their expiry.
It is regrettable that, notwithstanding the explanation of the above with Unite, and the invitation and commitment to continue engagement and dialogue over the next 48 hours, including the invitation to the Charge Nurse to advise on the recruitment and selection process, this action has been taken.
There are issues that transcend the union’s press release that the Government is keen to discuss, including concerns in patient safety and care within the service which of course has to be the paramount consideration. These are not matters for press releases, but given the Union statements, the GHA feels it is important to provide some background in order to ensure that public confidence in the GHA, and in particular the gynaecology service, is not eroded.
The GHA is committed to ensure that expectant mothers and their families and any woman requiring gynaecological treatment receive the best possible care when accessing the service – as is routinely offered by the dedicated and professional staff within the department, principally the midwifery staff, but also including service support staff.
Going forward, the industrial action is unnecessary and for reasons of patient safety will not have an impact on the outcome of the Government’s decision.