Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust threaten strike action over transport dispute

Steve Bell from Unison
Steve Bell from Unison

Staff at Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust are considering strike action as a dispute with their employees intensifies.

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Staff are angry that the trust has taken away their entitlement to free bus travel between Aylesbury and Wycombe.

Around 100 employees held a meeting at lunchtime recently to discuss the decision, which came into effect on October 13.

They concluded that strike action was a possibility if a resolution could not be reached.

A dispute is also taking place in Oxfordshire where staff at Oxfordshire Health NHS Trust are understood to be considering action over the introduction of car parking charges for staff and patients.

Steve Bell, branch secretary of Unison Bucks Health and Community said: “These decisions are being made because of financial situations each trust is facing- because of pressures each trust is under, and are counter-productive.

“There is a growing shortage of staff, and this will only add to it.

“It makes us question the economic case for this decision.

“Each year we have an NHS staff survey where it asks if management listen to their staff, and we can categorically say they don’t.

“Within two hours 400 staff signed our petition against these changes so it shows the strength of feeling there is.”

A trust spokesperson said: “Staff required to travel as part of their working day are entitled to free travel across Buckinghamshire.

“We are not proposing to change this, only the way in which people can travel for free if they are using the bus, so that it is more consistent with how staff are using other modes of transport.

“Staff travelling by bus from their usual workplace to work at a different site will now need to pay for their ticket at the time of travel and then claim the amount back through our existing e-expenses system.

“Free bus travel for commuting between home and work was not the purpose of the trust’s contract with Arriva and we could no longer justify the inequality of paying for some staff to travel to work, while most pay for the cost of their commute to and from work themselves.”