Hospital review sparks job-loss fears
Published at 11:13, Thursday, 07 June 2012
UNIONS say jobs will be lost and staff downgraded as part of a review of secretarial and clerical posts across North Cumbria’s hospitals.
Unison and the GMB claim up to 1,000 workers at the Whitehaven and Carlisle hospitals could be affected – and predict the plans would impact directly on patient care. If bosses don’t reconsider, Kevin Young, from the GMB, warned his members have already indicated they would support industrial action. A similar review launched in nursing last year has also attracted major controversy.
Now the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital, is looking at its administrative and clerical departments.
It says the review aims to bring in more modern-day practices and improve career progression for staff. The trust adds the review is still in the early stages so claims about job losses and downgrading are speculation.
But Mr Young disagreed. “There is a move to do away with medical secretaries. Instead they are proposing to have a central booking centre or call centre. That comes with job cuts. We’ve been told about 27 but we think it could be double that – and it’s only phase one of three,” he said.
“For those fortunate enough not to lose their job they are going to be de-skilled and down-banded. The majority are band fours but will move down to band two. That means they also lose money.
“We are talking about long-standing employees who have good working relationships with consultants and individual patients. All that is going to disappear. Yes these staff are fearful for their jobs but their main driver is that they fear patient care will suffer.”
Sean Gibson, of Unison, added: “They are talking about cutting in half the amount of secretarial support in medicine. If you think back to what happened at Morecambe Bay last year where follow-up appointments were missed. That was down to problems with administration and staffing levelsThe consultants are not in favour of what the trust is proposing.”
However a trust spokeswoman said: “The Administration and Clerical (A&C) review is required to reflect modern working practices and facilitate change towards virtual electronic patient records rather than the reliance of paper records, whilst ensuring patient safety remains central to everything we do.“We have listened to staff, both individually and as groups, and career progression and accountability have been consistent as areas of concern. The proposed structures provide a clear career path and will ensure greater consistency and accuracy as there will be team ownership, which will highlight areas that require improvement.“The review will be carried out in three phases and we are currently in consultation about phase one. This primarily involves talking to staff about the proposed changes and getting their feedback. So far, we have received extremely helpful feedback and suggestions which will be reflected in the final proposal. Any concerns staff have will be addressed as part of the consultation process.”
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
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