Junior doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) are planning to take industrial action today.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the junior doctors decided yesterday that all elective surgery would be stopped today, including those at the polyclinics. However, union president Walter Maloney said last night people with chronic problems would be treated.
But the administration of the hospital reported last night it had put measures in place to deal with the action. Chief executive officer of the QEH, Winston Collymore, reported that the union was protesting what it considered the protracted time the hospital had taken to deal with the recognition issue relating to junior doctors. He gave the assurance that the hospital had taken action to speed up the process and had sought professional guidance on how to move forward.
All parties involved had been kept abreast of the QEH's plans, he said, and they were shocked to receive the NUPW's faxed letter late yesterday indicating that protest action was on.
He said the union had indicated it had written to the Chief Labour Officer asking that a recognition poll be done on the basis that it felt it had a majority of junior doctors as members.
"They were getting a bit concerned that the process wasn't happening quickly enough [...] We told them they need to withdraw their letter (to the Labour Department) and let us do the count [...] We held a meeting on Wednesday and agreed to do exactly that. We circulated the results to the board and NUPW," he stated.
"The board is to decide on the matter and this will be done urgently. We have actually accelerated the process," Collymore added.
The QEH's head said they had put arrangements in place to minimise dislocation from any action by junior doctors. He promised coverage from the consultants and others, adding that no emergency surgery would be affected.
He also gave an assurance that the QEH would try to cover most of its clinics, but acknowledged that some elective surgeries may have to be rescheduled.