THOUSANDS of people have signed a petition calling for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) to shelve its controversial nurse rota changes.

Unite Wales’ regional secretary Peter Hughes said the 3,500-signature petition shows there is an “enormous groundswell of public opinion” against BCUHB’s plans, which employees say would result in a nurse working a 12-and-a-half-hour shift being left unpaid for an hour of their time.

A BCUHB boss said the rota changes aim to standardise shift and break patterns in response to “unwarranted variance” which “potentially did not protect the health and safety of our staff and patients to the degree we would like”.

The move is expected to affect thousands of nurses and health care support workers in secondary care across North Wales, who may need to work more hours to cover the lost paid breaks.

Unite has led a popular campaign opposing the changes and Mr Hughes will hand over the petition to Gill Harris, director of nursing and midwifery for BCUHB, at its St Asaph offices on Monday afternoon.

“Unite has seen an enormous groundswell of public opinion opposing the health board’s draconian changes to its hard-working employees’ rosters,” he said. “This support is clearly reflected in the fact that our petition opposing the changes has now attracted over 3,500 signatures.

“If Betsi Cadwaladr want to retain the support of both its employees and the general public then it needs to change course and shelve its proposals.

“Failure to do so will see a further erosion of confidence in BCUHB, which is in the interests of no one.”

North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd previously said the change “suggests a cost-cutting exercise promoted by accountants” and that staff he had spoken to were “under immense pressures” and even considering quitting their jobs if the plan went ahead.

BCUHB has been approached for comment on the petition.