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House of Commons Hansard
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Royal Liverpool Hospital
13 February 1980
Volume 978
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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) how many disputes have occurred at the Royal Liverpool hospital since it opened;

  • (2) what system of service is now operating in the Royal Liverpool teaching hospital in the catering department;
  • (3) what representations he has received from trades unions concerning the present dispute at the Royal Liverpool teaching hospital over rota operations;
  • (4) if he is satisfied with the administration of the Royal Liverpool teaching hospital; and if he will make a statement;
  • (5) if he will establish an independent public inquiry into the running of the Royal Liverpool teaching hospital;
  • (6) if he will make a statement on past and current negotiations taking place between management and the recognised trades unions at the Royal Liverpool teaching hospital concerning the introduction of new rotas; and what agreement has been reached;
  • (7) what is his policy towards the use of voluntary labour in the catering departments of hospitals; and if he will make a statement.
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    I am informed that there have been 12 industrial disputes since the hospital opened. In June 1977, before the opening, the trade unions were give written details of Liverpool area health authority (teaching)'s staffing proposals, but the unions declined to enter into discussions until July 1978 and negotiations were not concluded before the date scheduled for the opening of the new hospital—October 1978. To enable the hospital to open on schedule, the authority felt that it had no alternative but to transfer on the rotas obtaining at the time. Discussions on new rotas continued very slowly and were suspended during the national industrial action in early 1979; detailed negotiations restarted in September 1979. I understand that agreement was reached on 11 February 1980 that all industrial action would cease and new rotas be introduced whilst certain issues, notably flexibility of working are the subject of mediation by ACAS.These matters of detailed operational practice are essentially for local management to determine, as is the judgment whether volunteers should be used in catering departments or elsewhere in hospitals and are within the competence of the AHA(T). I do not believe that a public inquiry is necessary or would assist in resolving the questions which remain outstanding.