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Hospitals (Industrial Disputes)

Volume 975: debated on Tuesday 11 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans he has for dealing with strikes in the hospitals in the coming months.

We hope to avoid any repetition of last winter's troubles by wiser economic policies and by a management style which stresses the involvement of all groups of staff in the care of patients. However, in the event of industrial action taking place, it is important for both National Health Service management and staff to be clear about their positions. I have, therefore, issued guidance to health authorities, which spells out the options open to management in responding to various forms of industrial action and urges them to bring it to the attention of all staff. The guidance, health circular HC(79)20, a copy of which has been placed in the Library, also refers to the use of volunteers and to the need for health authorities to review their contingency plans to minimise the effects of industrial action. In the event of serious disruption to certain services, health authorities will also be able to apply for support from central Government resources.