This week in 1974: Nursing union threat to private patients

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Portsmouth hospital administrators were planning how to meet the threatened closure of the private wards by two nursing unions.

The district management team was warned of the proposed shut-down at a meeting with officials of the National Union of Public Employees and the Confederation of Health Service Employees at St Mary’s Hospital.

The move was in defiance of a combined nurses’ union vote to suspend industrial action until details of a new pay deal were known.

COSHE and NUPE disassociated themselves with decisions of more moderate union which was decided by more than 600 votes to return to normal working.

Spokesmen from the unions declared their intention to resume industrial action, refusing to do non-nursing duties or co-operate with agency nurses, as well as closing private wards in the district.

JT James, the district administrator for Portsmouth and South Health District, said there were 23 private beds in his district.

He added: ‘A high proportion of them were occupied,’

‘At this stage we are not prepared to disclose our contingency plans.’