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Berkshire GPs to face delayed test results due to hospital industrial action

Berkshire GPs will face delays to blood and sample test results from next week as hospital staff take industrial action over reduced staffing levels and patient safety.

Labaratory specialist staff will take industrial action starting next Friday (25 April) unless managers at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading can address concerns.

The dispute started on 1 March, when management moved staff in haematology and transfusion, microbiology, biochemistry and specimen reception onto a 24/7 shift pattern.

Unite, which is the union leading the action, said what is happening to labaratory staff in Reading is not unique, with similar circumstances have been reported also in other areas across England.

Unite regional officer Debbie Watson said: ‘The action will involve not processing any samples outside the hospital itself. This will mean that tests from Berkshire GPs and other providers, such as private hospitals, will not be performed by our members.

‘Our members believe that by restricting the amount of tests that they perform to those patients within the hospital, this will still ensure that patients in the hospital will get appropriate care.’

She added: ‘This dispute is about patient safety and work-life balance coupled with a feeling that staff have been ignored when they have aired legitimate concerns.’

It comes after unions Unite and Unison both announced plans for health workers to go on strike, or take industrial action, over the below-inflation pay rise handed to NHS staff by the Government this year.