Industrial action update - SCoR ballot results and launch of legal advice line for employers

Hospital corridor

06 / 10 / 2014 9.55am

As we are now just a week away from industrial action in the NHS, I thought you may find it useful to have a summary of everything you need to know about the planned industrial action and the resources we have published, to help with your contingency planning.

The Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) announced that its ballot results have to be considered by Council on Wednesday 8 October. As a result, SCoR has confirmed that it will not be joining the strike on Monday 13 October. They are planning to take some form of action in late October and will join any future co-ordinated action with the other health trade unions, should its members vote in favour of taking industrial action.

The GMB also announced the results of its ballot, with 78 per cent voting in favour of strike action and 91 per cent in favour of action short of a strike, on a turnout of 23 per cent. GMB has confirmed that its members will be joining in the strike action on Monday 13 October.

We are not currently aware of any additional planned strike action after Monday 13 October, but will be asking trade unions to let us know as far in advance as possible of any additional industrial action.

Strike action on Monday 13 October

With the exception of the SCoR all the ballot results are now in. The current situation is that members of UNISON, Unite, RCM, GMB and UCATT will be asked to take part in a four-hour strike on Monday 13 October from 7am to 11am. 

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists did not ballot for industrial action.

Members of The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) voted against taking strike action, but in favour of taking action short of strike

Action short of strike

Following the strike on Monday 13 October there will also be a period of action short of strike, the details of which I have outlined below:

  • UNISON - Initially planning for four days of action short of a strike, on Tuesday 14 October to Friday 17 October, focused on making sure members take their breaks. In addition to the four-hour strike on Monday 13 October, members in the ambulance service will be called on to work no overtime during the period Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 October.
  • Unite - Unite members in England will be working to rule and adhering to the 37.5 hour week starting at midnight on Monday 13 October and ending Sunday 9 November. Its ambulance staff will also impose an overtime ban in its respective trusts between Monday 13 and Sunday 19 October.
  • RCM - Further action starting from Tuesday 14 October to Friday 17 October. RCM members are being asked to refuse to work unpaid overtime and will take any breaks they are entitled to during their shifts. Full details can be found in the RCM’s letter to members.
  • UCATT - Asking their members to ‘work to rule’, from Monday 13 October 2014 till Sunday 9 November 2014. This will consist of not undertaking any unpaid overtime, requiring advance notice of any requests to work overtime and ensuring all rest breaks are taken.
  • Hospital Specialists and Consultants Association (HSCA) – will take ‘action short of strike’ between Tuesday 14 October and Friday 17 October. This will include taking breaks to which they are entitled, working to their job plan, declining any extra duties outside their job plan hours as well as any new activities, which are not already in their job plan. They will also be asked to decline to do any extra clinics/theatre lists for waiting list initiatives.

Resources for employers

We have been working closely with employers and our strategic partner Capsticks to help you prepare for this period of industrial action. We have prepared a range of resources including a board level presentation pack, industrial action planning checklist, template letters for staff, risk matrix, industrial action myth buster and summary guidance of your staffing options during industrial action. 

Capsticks has also tailored our contingency planning document to produce a set of FAQs on the industrial action and work to rule  that is taking place on Monday 13 October to Friday 17 October 2014.

We have also just added an ESR user notice which provides guidance on recording industrial action on ESR.

You can read or download the documents on the industrial action resources for employers’ page.

Advice line now available

To help you deal with any issues not covered by our guidance, I am pleased to announce that Capsticks is providing an advice line for NHS employers.

The advice line number is 020 8780 4756 and is now open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, till 17 October. The purpose of the advice line is to provide quick and authoritative guidance on short and non-contentious queries relating to industrial action. Where an issue arises that might give rise to substantive legal advice, you should take formal legal advice to support your decision making.

For commercial and practical reasons, employers should be prepared to identify themselves (on a strictly confidential basis) and the advice given will be confined to issues around the planned strikes. Each call to the advice line should be limited to no longer than around 30 minutes and users should only use the line once for each discrete issue. Where possible, only one person from each organisation should make the call and be the point of contact for the helpline and you should consult our published resources first before calling.

On-the-day support

NHS Employers will seek to keep clear lines of communication open with the leaders of the trade unions taking action on Monday 13 October. If you encounter problems that are affecting service delivery and are unable to resolve them at a local level, then please call 0300 330 0963, where one of our dedicated advisers who will be available between 7am and 11am on Monday 13 October. We will endeavour to help out as much as we can. Colleagues in our regional engagement teams will also be available throughout the day.

And finally, we are still impressing on the Department of Health and NHS England that they should avoid asking for regular situation reports on the day as this will hinder your ability to focus on delivering services to patients. We are not aware of any plans to collect information formally at this stage and we will of course let you know if the situation changes.

I hope that you will find this summary note and our guidance useful. If there is anything else we can do to help you prepare for industrial action, please contact me at

Best wishes

Gill Bellord,
Director of employment relations and reward

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