OPERATING theatre staff at Warrington Hospital have called off their industrial action after a four-year dispute.

Union members staged two day-long strikes this month, following a series four-hour strikes in August.

The Unite union and Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust bosses have now resolved their differences, which concerned new rotas for emergency cover in theatres.

Following a recent postal ballot of members, the dispute has now ended and all planned strike action cancelled.

In a joint statement, the two parties said that they ‘hope that bridges can be rebuilt’ and that ‘confidence can be restored’ in their partnership.

Unite regional officer Derek Jones said: “Our members in Warrington Hospital theatres have undertaken a number of days of industrial action to achieve a settlement to the dispute.

“They are sorry for any inconvenience to patients this may have caused, but always provided emergency cover during the strike days.

“Although industrial action is always a last resort, Unite and its members felt it was needed to achieve an offer from the employer acceptable to the majority of our members.”

Unite had expressed worries that the new rota would have a ‘significant’ impact on the pay of some of its members and reduce the number of operating department practitioners on-call during nights and on weekends – which it believed could have adversely affected patient safety.

But theatre staff will now be ‘migrated’ to the new terms and conditions, moving on to the same rota as the rest of the trust.

Jan Ross, acting chief operating officer at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We apologise to all patients that have been affected by the industrial action to date.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with our theatre staff and look forward to working together to make the new rostering system work for everyone.”

Patients who have been affected by the industrial action have all had their procedures rescheduled.