asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) how many disputes have occurred at the Royal Liverpool hospital since it opened;
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.