The GHA is pleased to confirm that it has been able to resolve the clinical issues that had arisen in respect of the gynaecology service. The issues are now being managed in a manner that has enabled short term extensions to be granted to the clinicians in question.
Clinical concerns initially raised by GHA senior management have now been further investigated and addressed. Having consulted the relevant bodies, the GHA is reassured that patient care and safety have not been compromised.
The recruitment process for consultants continues as part of the succession planning that has been put in place in line with the GHA’s long-term strategy. Locum cover by its nature is short term and is a needs led process, and consequently the GHA will tap into this resource as and when required.
It should also be noted that, contrary to the statement issued by Unite the Union, the resolution has not arisen from the union taking industrial action. That statement is a self-serving statement by the union seeking to drum up membership, which they are free to make but which is misleading.
Having received reassurances from the relevant bodies regarding the clinical concerns the Director General designate, together with the GHA senior management team held further positive discussions with Unite and its members, and agreement was reached regarding the contractual issues. Unite’s industrial action was not an influence in the resolution of this matter. Furthermore at that meeting confirmation was given to Unite that moving forward all industrial relations within the GHA will now be dealt with exclusively by the authority through a social partnership agreement which will ensure a more progressive and dynamic approach to employee related issues focusing on collective bargaining and coherent lines of communications.
Negotiations with the union have continued throughout this period as they would have, with or without industrial action, and have been led by the new Director General. Indeed, during a meeting that took place on the 1st December the Minister for Health asked the union for 48 hours so that dialogue with the GHA could be continued. Notwithstanding, Unite went ahead and commenced industrial action the following morning, without allowing the requested 48 hours for meaningful dialogue to continue. The matter was pursued by the new Director General, although not yet commenced in that role until 10th January, precisely to avoid any political or ministerial involvement in the matter.
Minister for Health, the Hon Samantha Sacramento, said: ‘Unite publically complain about ministerial interference in GHA matters and yet at the same time are continuously referring matters to the Minister for Health for resolution, notwithstanding explanations and repeated reminders by the Minister for Health that the Minister and the ministry do not get involved in the GHA’s operational matters. Unite cannot on the one hand complain that the Minister should not be involved and then on the other hand complain that the Minister has no involvement or does not refer to them in issues that they raise.’
‘Furthermore, the GSD’s jumping on the bandwagon is hypocritical considering that they say themselves that operational matters within the GHA should be kept apolitical. Evidently, the only stakeholder seeking to keep the GHA apart from politics or ministerial involvement is the Government.’