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Medical Laboratory Scientific Officers

Volume 977: debated on Tuesday 29 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress has been made in the dispute concerning medical laboratory scientific officers and their pay claim.

Medical laboratory scientific staff in the National Health Service are claiming higher rates of pay for undertaking emergency duties. The claim should be settled in the professional and technical staffs B Whitley Council for the Health Services—Great Britain. The management side is prepared to negotiate revised rates and has made a number of offers involving increases of about 24 per cent. in expenditure. The trade unions have rejected these offers, have withdrawn from national negotiations, and are seeking local negotiations on higher rates with individual health authorities.The rates currently payable are set out in an agreement made between the two sides of the Whitley Council and approved by the Secretary of State. Under the National Health Service (Remuneration and Conditions of Service) Regulations health authorities may pay neither more nor less than the approved rates and it is, therefore, not open to them to pay rates under a local agreement which exceed the approved rates.A disturbing feature of the dispute is the disruptive action being taken by a minority of the staff on official union advice. In effect, this action cuts services and puts patients at risk. It also creates difficulty for other NHS staff. It is irresponsible of the unions to give such advice and it is inappropriate for professional staff to follow it.