Scientists at Northampton General Hospital (NGH) who voted for industrial action, have claimed staff sent in to cover their potential strike will jeopardise safety.
Bosses from the Unite union allege that over the past few weeks, NGH has been bringing in inexperienced staff to the pathology department in anticipation of a strike, which was due to start today.
The hospital has hired four agency biomedical scientists to begin operating what the union says are “very complex” blood grouping machines within a week.
Training normally takes at least three weeks, it was said.
Clerical staff and nurses have also been transferred from other departments, but the union claims they have no laboratory experience at all.
The potential strike action is about a reduction in out-of- hours payment rates, which NGH says are being brought in to line with similar pay grades as it seeks to save money.
A spokesman for Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust said the four locum biomedical scientists recruited were all Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered. He said they have experience of working in many different hospitals around the country, were familiar with the laboratory equipment and stressed clerical staff would not be operating complex machinery.
The spokesman said: “We have well-developed plans to ensure patient safety will not be compromised as a result of any industrial action.”