Tuesday, May 29, 2012

5 NHS staffs whose morale is at an all time low

1. Derriford Hospital, Plymouth

The hospital is being asked to find £54m savings in two years. The workforce's morale is at an all time low as Serco who run the cleaning & catering contract in the hospital arbitrarily cut staff's hours by 17 leading to an annual lost of more than £7,000 a year for some staff. Hospital bosses for months refused to meet Trade Union officials until strike action was threatened. In the latest twist, just today two non-executive directors have resigned their posts at the hospital in protest at the poor running. The new chair for the hospital has just been appointed from outside the hospital with no appreciation or understanding for how hard things have been for the staff.

2. Great Royal Western, Swindon

Staff that this hospital are among the most deflated in the country. Wards have been shut down, staff have been asked to re-apply for their posts (in some cases unsuccessfully). Staff have been disciplined for their social media usage and Multi-National Corporation, Carillion, admit to bullying and shaking down the staff. The cleaning and catering staff have been on strike at the hospital for weeks now as they protest against the sacking and black listing of staff members through the courts. 

3. Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Shropshire

The Keynon Ward was shut down over Easter and has not opened since. The staff were not informed of any decision. The budgetary pressures and staff cuts at the hospital have led to staff operating a "Work to Rule" strike. This means they only fulfill their contractual obligations at the hospital and refuse to do the normal 1000s of hours of overtime they put in without pay per month. There is a serious de-skilling programme under way at the hospital, where staff being asked to perform duties above their pay grade. Health Care Assistants are being sent on courses and asked to operate machines that a really the duties of a nurse. 

4. NHS Direct Staff, Devon

NHS Direct staff throughout the UK live in uncertain times. The 111 pilots are scary for three main reasons. Experienced staff are being replaced by telephonists with much less medical training. Staff numbers are being cut and private corporations are being invited to tender for the contracts. This led 600 staff across South Devon staging a work in protest, where they all worked free of charge for 24 hours to draw attention to the importance of their cause. Just yesterday, Serco pulled out of several 111 contracts they were bidding for after it emerged they were to be prevented from out sourcing the jobs. Serco claimed they only wanted to outsource the jobs to other NHS areas of England but ultimately the true profits would have been in using their Indian Call Centres. I hope the nurses pick up this piece of good news.

5. Springfield University Hospital, London

It might seem trivial to include these mental health nurses on the list, but please let me explain why I have done so. Nurses pay have been frozen for two years, their registration fees have climbed. Many are facing the prospect of being downbanded and as staff shortages bite they are being asked to do more. As well as this Andrew Lansley is currently waging a pensions war with NHS staff. All things considered, the prospect of £450 car parking charges being introduced at the South London hospitals represents an annual 2.5% tax for the nurses. On top of everything else, this is a cost they cannot afford. Some nurses have got in touch to say that the charges they have been asked to pay for parking their car at their hospital have topped £600 a year. The commodification of staff who do such a crucial job is a moral wrong and for all the collective funds raised, think what a boost to their morale it would be if the Health Secretary were to announce nation wide that charges were to be scrapped. After all, NHS car parks are free in Scotland.

(I was tempted to include other staffs such as the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast who have had to absorb an A & E Closure in the city's other main hospital. The extra patients combined with no corresponding increase in staff numbers has crippled a once great hospital. In addition, the spread of the Noro-virus throughout Scotland's hospitals especially the Royal Alexandria has placed immense strain on the workforces in Scottish Hospitals).

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