A HEALTH board has made a dramatic U-turn by shelving controversial changes to nurse rotas that could have forced staff to work an extra shift each month.

The Leader has previously reported that proposals made by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) would make staff take an additional half-hour break each shift without pay, which was met with anger after they were announced in August.

Now Unite Wales has welcomed the decision by BCUHB not to progress its deeply unpopular proposals to change the rosters of BCUHB nurses, healthcare support workers and operating department practitioners next year.

The union led a strong campaign opposing the Health Board's proposals which has resulted in an online petition of over 4,500 signatures.

A planned demonstration opposing the proposals that was due to take place on November 7 has been cancelled.

Unite Wales’ regional secretary Peter Hughes said: “The decision by Betsi Cadwaladr not to progress with the changes to staff rosters is a victory for our campaign and will come as a huge relief to the thousands of nurses and health professionals who would have been affected.

"We welcome the fact that Betsi Cadwaladr has listened to our concerns and decided to think again.

"We also welcome their commitment to work constructively alongside all trade unions representing BCUHB staff.

"We expect future consultations with us to be far more meaningful than has been the case over this divisive issue. What we certainly will not accept is any further attempt to bring forward changes to staff rosters under another guise.

"This is now an opportunity for Betsi Cadwaladr to put this issue behind it and to encourage a positive climate of industrial relations that can help rebuild the confidence of staff and the general public.

"It is in the interests of all stakeholders, most importantly the patients, that Betsi Cadwaladr can rely on a workforce that feels truly valued and listened to.”

Gary Doherty, chief executive of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “We welcome the joint communication from Unison, RCN and Unite. We are absolutely committed to working together with our Trades Union partners.

“While we focus on our partnership working and how to move forward together, we will not progress the proposed changes.

"We can also confirm that the agenda for the Extraordinary Local Partnership Meeting to be held on Friday, November 8, will be dedicated to this matter.”