An allocation of ten additional nurses for each day of militantc action — that's the balance sheet COHSE members at Cane Hill 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 1976, staff at the psychiatric hospital in Coulsdon. Surrey, provided emergency service only. 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 atotal 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 Area Health Authoruty 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 narrow majority in favour of calling off the industrial action.
'We would have backed a strike all the way,' says COHSE branch chairperson 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.'
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 establishment and costs; prior agreement before staff are moved; proposals for local consultation procedures;and improvements in the pay system.
Other COHSE stewards involved Colin Brown and Roy Brown, and COHSE Regional Secretary Bob Harmes
COHSE Journal picture Morning Star of Mass meeting