Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Barcelona Hospital Occupation

Nurses and Health workers at Sant Pau Hospital Barcelona have occupied their hospital and running it effectiveely since 28th November 20012

The occupation action at Sant Pau has been a spark in developing anti-cuts movements, involving neighbourhood and other activist groups, at hospitals throughout Catalunya. Occupations have sprung up at the region's biggest hospital, Vall d'Hebrón, and the Clínic Hospital. 

In the words of one prominent health activist, it's about creating "a white Catalan tide similar to that which exists in Madrid". The beginnings of such a tidal movement have literally covered Barcelona in the white of doctors' and nurses' gowns during marches organised by the various occupation committees.

Harpenden Hospital Occupation 1985

COHSE midwives occupied the Harpenden Memorial hospital for two weeks in February-March 1985 in order to stop the sacking and transfer of Midwives at the Hospital. 

The Unit was due to close on February 28th 1985, however staff with community support occupied the hospital.

 All management were refused admission unless it was on clinical grounds. 

The occupation secured wide support from the community and local GP's

The Occupation secured jobs for all Midwives on the closure of the Harpenden Memorial Hospital 8 beded Midwifery Unit and a say in the future provision of GP maternity services

COHSE Kumar Sandy Regional Officer paid tribute to those who had supported COHSE members in their fight "We now know that any threatened hospital can be run by the staff. We gathered 3,500 signatures on a petition in two weeks. And now we know how to set up and run an occupation....As a result of our sit-in the health authority was forced to meet COHSE's demands for alternative jobs for the midwives"

Daphne Hutchins COHSE steward at the hospitals stated

 "There is a vast difference between a GP run maternity unit and working in a consultant unit"

"The mother comes in relaxed, there is a friendly atmosphere and the midwives build up a rapport with the women. here the midwives look after the mothers all the way through and wave good-bye on the door step

Cane Hill Hospital Work-In August 1976

 Cane Hill Hospital Sit-In
Cane Hill Hospital Occupation
wins 40 more Nurses
18-21 August 1976

An allocation of ten additional nurses for each day of action - that's the balance COHSE nursing at Cane Hill hospital, Surrey are making of their four days of struggle.

Steps are also being taken to fill vacant posts for unqualified staff, and action is now being considered on an area or regional basis to deal with massive under-staffing.

From 18 to 21 August, staff at the psychiatric hospital in Coulsdon, Surrey, provided emergency service

With laundry and linen rooms shut, no domestic services, and no occupational or industrial therapy.
many staff were in effect sitting-in.

Care of patients was restricted to their basic physical needs, with a total ban on new admissions. Drivers
were available for emergency duties only.

 After at first refusing to even discuss Cane Hill's chronic under-staffing, Bromley AHA's eventual offer of more nurses for the hospital was forced up to 40 at a meeting on 21 August.When this was put to a mass
meeting of staff, there was a narrowmajority in favour of calling off the industrial action.

'We would have backed a strike all the way,' says COHSE branch chairperson W Glynne John.

'We want two hundred more nursing staff across the psychiatric division, and if the discussions the
AHA has now agreed to hold do not result in a big improvement, we will seriously consider further action.

'The staffing situation in the whole of the area and region is scandalous,' Glynne adds, 'and we are now looking to action at this level.'

Neighbouring Surrey Area Health Authority appealed last March for £2,250,000 for desperately needed psychiatric
staff. Instead, its budget has been cut by £2 millions.

Advertisements have already been placed for Cane Hill's 40 nurses, who will increase the complement to 610.

The four days' action also resulted in: full information on staffing estabishment and costs; prior agreement
before staff are moved; proposals for local consultation procedures; and improvements in the pay system.

COHSE branch leadership included W Glynne John, COHSE stewards Colin Brown and Roy Brown, and Regional Secretary Bob Harmes 

Picture is from the Morning Star of Cane Hill Hospital nursing staff at a mass meeting 18 August 1976.

Brookwood Hospital Occupation 1978

The public must be made aware that there is a desperate staffing problem and that more money must be made available to the health service.' These words from Joe Fleming COHSE Branch secretary and chairperson of the Workers Council of Brookwood Hospital 1978.

Hospital, highlights what many of us in the Health Service face with the carrying out of the cuts.

Management at Brookwood have consistently refused to employ more nurses. Out of an establishment of 805,
only 420 staff are in post. On many occasions there was one trained nurse iivcharge of three wards and having to
give out drugs on their own.

The grievances at. Brookwood have piled up over several years. Complaints range from waiting three weeks for a new washer to the Divisional Nursing Officer issuing orders to ward sisters telling them when nurses should take
their tea-breaks. When proper consultation  revealed  that  more staff were needed, management simply withdrew
from the procedure.

But staff were most angry at the raising of the nursery charges. COHSE had an agreement with management
that if there was any proposals to increase prices they should be consulted. They weren't. That was when
hospital staff decided that they would run the hospital more efficiently and without all the aggravation of manage-

A Workers Council was formed and consists of all the stewards and branch officers in the hospital, plus the NUPE
branch secretary and a steward from the District General Hospital at Frimley Park.

Within two weeks of staff taking this action,  the Area  Health  Authority agreed to hold an enquiry into the grievance. But most important is the setting up of the Joint Brookwood Hospital  Committee  comprising  an  equal number of staff and management representatives, to deal with all matters affecting  services  and  facilities  at Brookwood  Hospital  and  staff employed within the Division of Psychiatry.

Brookwood have shown that it pays to dare to take action when you know it's right.

COHSE Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital May 1986

COHSE Bethlem & Maudsley branch campaign demonstration on 12 May 1986

Royal Surrey COHSE Student Nurses 1982