RADIOGRAPHERS were the latest set of NHS workers who staged a four-hour walkout.
Members of the Society of Radiographers at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, set up a picket line outside the main entrance this morning.
Les Jones, senior radiographer and industrial representative for the Society of Radiographers, said: ‘It’s the hypocrisy of the government that really bugs us.
‘An independent body said we are entitled to a one per cent pay increase, yet this was turned down by the government.
‘Yet an independent body said MPs should have an 11 per cent increase, and that was accepted.
‘This strike action is nothing against the hospital trust or patients, but it’s about us.
‘We have had a pay freeze for the past five years now, yet the cost of everything else has gone up.’
Typically radiographers examine patients’ bodies using different techniques such as X-rays, MRI scans and ultrasounds.
The union said that emergency and urgent care will continue to be provided but pre-booked appointments and procedures may be affected.
QA is run by Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.
A spokesman for the trust said: ‘We have well-prepared contingency plans in place to ensure disruption to services is kept to a minimum and will endeavour to operate “business as usual” today, when industrial action is expected to take place.
‘We will work hard to ensure patient care and experience is not compromised during any industrial action.
‘The trust has a very good working relationship with trade unions and staff side representatives and both parties will ensure patients continue to receive the very best care possible during the industrial action.’
The walk-out is action against the government’s refusal to agree to staff having a one per cent pay rise.
Richard Evans, the society’s chief executive officer, said: ‘This is the first time since 1982 that radiographers have gone on strike over pay and there is the possibility of more action in the future. The anger that they and other NHS workers feel is very strong.
‘The last thing that radiographers want is to hurt the people that they serve. Steps have been taken to minimise the impact on patients.
‘This disagreement between NHS staff and the government has been going on for a long time and radiographers have lost patience with an employer that they feel does not value the hard work that they do.
‘If there is no improvement in pay, there is a real concern that more radiographers will leave the profession for another career, making current shortages worse.
‘Patients will have to wait even longer to be seen than they do now. Also, radiography needs to attract students to replace the people who retire or leave the profession every year.
‘There are fears that if pay continue to fall in value, young people will not consider a career that requires three to four years of intensive training.’
Radiographers will be working to rule for the remainder of the week. This will include taking scheduled breaks and not working unpaid overtime.
Last week scores of staff walked out, including midwives, ambulance workers and porters. Further industrial action has not been ruled out.