> Another example of what happens when NHS services are privatised…
Staff in homes for people with learning and physical disabilities in Northumberland could take strike action over what they describe as a “savage cut” to their terms and conditions.
The majority of 36 workers in five homes run by Lifeways are being balloted amid claims their pay is to be slashed by £2.30 an hour to £7.65 – below the National Living Wage.
They also say the company is cutting paid sickness leave to five days per year, reducing its contribution to workers’ pensions from 14% to 4% and removing death in service benefits.
The workers are based at three homes in Bedlington and two in Choppington and are represented by the union Unison.
It claims staff who transferred to Lifeways from the NHS are seeing their maternity provision replaced by the statutory minimum and that holiday entitlement has been reduced by seven days.
Unison spokesman Trevor Johnston said:
“They are faced with losing between a third and half of their income and a savage cut to their other terms and conditions of employment.
“The staff are very concerned about their financial security. They are very committed to caring for the residents and appreciate that disruption is unsettling for them. However, they feel that they are faced with no alternative.
“Unison has offered to undertake meaningful negotiations with the employer, especially as Lifeways made a profit last year of £14m.
“Other not-for-profit organisations faced with similar cuts have offered their staff buy out arrangements while continuing to pay the Living Wage.”
The company has blamed a 30% cut in the money it is given to run the homes by Northumberland County Council.
A Lifeways spokesperson said:
“We recognise the impact that any changes to terms and conditions will have on our staff and we are holding talks with Unison in order to avoid industrial action.
“Our service users remain our number one priority and we will maintain a high level of care at all times.
“However, like all other providers of adult social care, we are having to reduce our costs as a result of local authority budget cuts.
“Despite a 30% reduction in fees, we are required to deliver the same level of service as currently.
“The fee decrease is being absorbed in part through a reduction in our operating costs, mostly through the proposed changes in employment terms and conditions, but also in part by Lifeways directly.”
The services now run by Lifeways were operated by the Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust as residential care homes until 2012.
A Northumberland County Council spokesperson:
“The trust made a decision a number of years ago that they no longer felt it appropriate for them to continue providing this kind of social care service, and consulted their staff in relation to this.
“The county council, which was the funder of the services, therefore advertised in 2012 for a new provider to take over the services and work towards supporting the service users in a less institutional way, changing the services from residential homes to a ‘supported living’ scheme, in which service users would become tenants with enhanced rights and greater independence.
“The contract offered in the original tender is the contract that was agreed would operate from April 1.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 09 Mar 2015
Health bosses at a North East health trust have been awarded huge pay rises despite frontline nurses struggling to get an across the board 1% increase.
Senior members of staff at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, which runs mental health services in the region, have seen their wages hike by up to 9.5% in the last two years.
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is currently undergoing significant change with its Transforming Services Programme which could see as many as 169 posts reduced under radical plans to change the way that care is delivered to vulnerable patients.
Former chief executive of the trust Gillian Fairfield, who left her post at the end of March this year, saw her salary rise the most from £182,700 in 2012/13 to £200,000 in 2013/14, a boost of £17,300.
Meanwhile, Lisa Quinn, executive director of performance and assurance, and Elizabeth Latham, former director of workforce and organisational development, had pay rises of 5.5%, with both their wages jumping from £100,000 to £105,500.
Nurses’ leaders and MPs have reacted with anger as the wage boosts come at a time when not all frontline NHS staff are being given a 1% rise. While some nurses and health care assistants will still get their incremental pay increase, which rewards experience and skills learnt after a length of service, many will not be entitled to the rise.
The Government has insisted it cannot afford a general pay increase without putting frontline jobs at risk.
Glenn Turp, Royal College of Nursing Northern Regional Director said: “We are very concerned to learn that Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust awarded such a significant pay rise to Gillian Fairfield. When it comes to pay, it seems we are seeing one rule for NHS chief executives, and another for frontline nursing staff.
“Less than half of nursing staff at the top of their pay increment will get a paltry 1% pay rise this year, following three years of pay restraint. The rest will simply get what they are contractually entitled to, if they can demonstrate they have developed their skills in the previous year.
“And we know that, once inflation is factored in, NHS salaries have in fact been cut between 8% and 12% in real terms, between the period 2010 and 2014. A band three health care assistant working on the frontline earns £16,200 a year; less than this chief executive was awarded as a pay rise in one year. It’s disgraceful and demoralising for frontline workers.”
Health chiefs have insisted that since Northumberland, Tyne and Wear became a foundation trust in December 2009, executive directors had more responsibility and this was reflected in their salaries.
Chairman of the trust, Hugh Morgan Williams, said: “When a NHS trust gains foundation trust status it acquires a significant amount of managerial and financial freedom and a degree of independence from the Department of Health.
“Individual executive directors of the organisation therefore gain more responsibility, which you would expect to be reflected in their remuneration, amongst other things, due to the complexities of responsibilities directors have to undertake.
“Northumberland, Tyne and Wear became a foundation trust on December 1, 2009, and it had been agreed to commission an external review on authorisation as a foundation trust. This review was deferred on several occasions and took place during 2013/14. There was a commitment to back date any increases to the date of achieving Foundation Trust status and this commitment has now been honoured.”
Newcastle East MP Nick Brown said pay restraint in the NHS should be the same for everyone. He added: “If exceptions are to be allowed, we should start with those who are the least well-paid. There is no excuse for breaching the public sector pay policy just for those who are already amongst the highest paid.”
Dr Fairfield now works at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and was unavailable for comment.
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s executive directors pay
Gillian Fairfield, former chief executive
Salary 2012/13: £182,700
Salary 2013/14: £200,000
% change: 9.5
James Duncan, executive director of finance and deputy chief executive
Salary 2012/13: £125,000
Salary 2013/14: £126,250
% change: 1%
Gary O’Hare, executive director of nursing and operations
Salary 2012/13: £107,124
Salary 2013/14: £109,800
% change: 2.5
Elizabeth Latham, former director of workforce and organisational development
Salary 2012/13: £100,000
Salary 2013/14: £105,500
% change: 5.5
Lisa Quinn, executive director of performance and assurance
Salary 2012/13: £100,000
Salary 2013/14: £105,500
% change: 5.5
Lisa Crichton-Jones, acting director of workforce and organisational development
Salary 2012/13: n/a
Salary 2013/14: £105,500
% change: n/a
Source – Newcastle Journal, 17 July 2014
Frontline nurses and health care assistants gathered in the region this morning to protest against pay conditions.
Scores of NHS staff joined prominent MP Nick Brown outside Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital to show their anger at the Government’s failure to honour a 1% pay rise this year.
After three years of pay freezes and pay restraint, Chancellor George Osborne had said a 1% pay rise across the board was “affordable” from April this year. However, the Government then controversially reneged on this promise.
While some nurses and health care assistants will still get their incremental pay increase, which rewards experience and skills learnt after a length of service, many will not be entitled to the rise.
The Government has insisted it cannot afford a general pay increase without putting frontline jobs at risk.
Glenn Turp, Royal College of Nursing Northern Region regional director, said: “Nurses are working very hard and the number of people at our protest shows how angry our members are.
“It is baffling that the Chancellor said the Government could afford a 1% pay rise across the board and then that was reneged on. It makes no sense.
“What the NHS cannot afford to do is continue a policy of treating hard working and loyal staff with contempt, at a time when morale is at an all time low and trusts around the country struggle to retain and recruit enough nurses to maintain safe staffing levels.
“We see this as being a year long campaign leading up to the general election.”
Nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, paramedics, hospital cleaners and other NHS staff took part in demonstrations throughout the country.
Newcastle East MP Nick Brown said: “The Government’s continuing public sector pay restraint is not fair and not sustainable. It is particularly unfair on nurses and other low paid workers in the NHS.
“I completely support the Royal College of Nursing, hospital staff look after us in our time of need and we must stand up for them. It is important that the public understands just how shabby the Government is in treating key health service workers.”
Staff nurse Grace Onuoha, 53, of Walker, Newcastle, had just finished a night shift for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust when she attended the protest.
The mum-of-three said: “It is very disappointing that there is not an across the board pay rise as we are working hard and doing a lot yet receiving nothing in return. It feels like we have been given a slap in the face by the Government.
“Morale is extremely low among staff as we are doing more and getting less. My pay is exactly the same as it was in 2009 despite the rise in the cost of living.”
The TUC, representing 14 health unions, said its research showed that health staff in England were “donating” £1.5bn worth of unpaid overtime every year.
Unions said that by 2015/16 NHS staff would have had their pay capped for six years. Pay was frozen in 2011 and 2012, and limited to 1% last year.
Susan Johnson, 47, of Killingworth, a senior sister in critical care at North Tyneside General Hospital, said: “It is frustrating because we work so hard and my concern is that we will put off future generations from joining the profession as nursing staff struggle with unsociable hours and are not very financially rewarded.”
The Department of Health said it was saddened by the health unions’ reaction to reject the pay offer. A spokesperson said: “NHS staff are our greatest asset.
“That’s why at a time of severe funding restraint we have been clear that they should receive at least 1% additional pay this year and next.
“We cannot afford a general pay rise on top of incremental pay increases of up to 6% without risking frontline jobs and safe staffing levels.
“We are disappointed that the unions rejected our offer to discuss any alternative proposals on pay, within an available budget of nearly £1bn.
“However, our door remains open if they wish to reconsider their position.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 05 June 2014
Fears have been expressed for some of the region’s most vulnerable patients after it emerged more than 150 frontline NHS posts will be cut.
As many as 169 posts at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust will be lost under radical plans to change the way that care is delivered to mental health patients.
Nurses are set to be the worst hit, though a total of 867 employees will be affected as staff may be required to change their place of work or undergo different shift patterns.
Plans put forward for consultation will see wards close, services relocated and the development of new units as the trust aims to reduce costs by 20% over a five-year period.
Health chiefs have insisted that the changes will significantly improve patient services, but staff and unions have raised fears over employees’ safety and future staffing levels.
Glenn Turp, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Trust management have told us that although they are endeavouring to redeploy all of the staff who are affected by the restructuring, they can not give guarantees that all staff will be redeployed, and as a consequence they have issued ‘advance notice of redundancy forms’ affecting around 170 staff.
“The fact remains that local NHS employers are in the invidious position of having to make huge cost savings that are not deliverable without having a negative impact on patient care, frontline staffing and inpatient activity.”
Thirteen new schemes will be introduced across the region covering all aspects of mental health, including older people’s services, psychiatric intensive care and male high dependency.
Community services will be enhanced so that fewer people will require hospital admission.
It is believed that more than 90 beds will be reduced and new ways of accessing treatment introduced for those with psychosis, non-psychosis, cognitive disorders and learning disability.
A mental health nurse, who has asked not to be named, said: “A number of challenging patients who used to be managed within the hospital setting are now going to have to be cared for in the community.
“Without significant additional investment in community services and staff, this will put significant pressure on both the patients themselves, and their families who will be increasingly relied upon to provide support when NHS staff are not available.
“For those patients who do not have a supportive family network, this may put both their health and safety at risk.
“The public should be concerned about the scale and the nature of this restructuring, because it looks as if community care is being delivered on the cheap. That has implications for everyone.”
The trust is currently working with staff on the proposals and a number of public consultation events have taken place. It is expected that the changes will come into force within the next two to three years.
A spokesperson for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust said: “Service users, carers, the voluntary sector and our commissioners and local authorities have been involved for many months in developing our plans for mental health services across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear.
“The vast majority of our services are provided in the community with only 3% of our patients ever needing to go to hospital, yet we spend more than 50% of our resources for services on our inpatient beds.
“Our aim is to improve quality in both our inpatient and community services whilst at the same time meeting the cost savings required of us.
“In terms of our inpatient beds, the trust currently has over 650 beds and as an example, in the last three weeks we have used in the order of 470 beds each day.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 23 April 2014
Scores of beds are set to be cut in a major overhaul of mental health services in the North East.
Radical changes will see the merger of two psychiatric intensive care units, a reduction of in-patient beds and the axing of 22 frontline nursing posts.
Fears have been raised over how the changes could affect some of the most vulnerable patients in the region.
But health officials at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust insisted their Transforming Services Programme will improve quality of care for patients, while delivering efficient cost savings.
Patients and staff in the South of Tyne area are being affected by the proposals, and the trust says it has future plans to look at the way services are delivered North of Tyne.
Under the trust’s plans, two psychiatric intensive care units will merge into one. The services at Greentrees Ward at St Nicholas Hospital in Newcastle and the Dene at Cherry Knowle Hospital in Sunderland both have 14 beds.
It is proposed to merge those wards into a single 14-bed facility at a new hospital at Hopewood Park, Sunderland, which is due to open later this year.
Meanwhile, a overhaul of in-patient care will see more services delivered in the community, resulting in the reduction of about 90 beds across the trust’s South Tyneside, Gateshead and Sunderland sites.
Staff are currently going through a consultation process as it is proposed to reduce the number of nursing posts, across all staff banding levels, from 64 to 42.
Last night, union officials and MPs raised concerns that the move will hit those in need of mental health care.
Blaydon MP Dave Anderson said: “Mental health services should be protected. We are in the situation where mental health issues are getting more awareness and it’s not good to hear that services are being affected in the region.
“It is ludicrous if these changes are being made to save money, and patients will understandably be concerned at what the proposals mean for them. Mental health services are very much needed.”
Greg Canning, Royal College of Nursing Officer said: “This is one of a large number of areas where the trust is currently consulting on reducing the number of posts.
“To cut the number of nursing posts in psychiatric intensive care from 64 to 42 is a huge reduction, and we want to see evidence that this will mean that the service remains viable.
“Patient and staff safety must come first. I’m meeting with Gary O’Hare, the director of nursing at the trust, and I will be raising the matter with him as a matter of urgency.”
It is expected that the changes will come into force within the next two to three years.
A spokesman for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust said: “For some time now we have been working with staff, service users, carers and partner organisations to look at ways in which we can redesign our service around the needs of the people we look after. This has included a formal public consultation in South Tyneside which has now come to a close.
“We are currently consulting with our staff on a number of changes to the way we provide services both inside and outside hospitals.
“The aim of these changes is to ensure that we look after people in the right environment for them, avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions. We are also working closely with our trade unions to ensure that no one loses their job through this process.”
As many as one in four people suffer from mental health problems at some point in their lives.
Earlier this year, deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched the Government’s mental health action plan, setting out priorities for change in mental health care and support.
He said patients will have a choice of where to be treated and a right to minimum waiting times.
Source – Newcastle Journal 11 April 2014