A union official has criticised a Labour council for putting 11 experienced health trainers out of a job after it chose a private company over the existing NHS provider.
The decision by Stockton Borough Council to award the contract to provide health trainer services to the private Leeds-based company More Life in preference to the existing providers – a team of 11 health trainers employed by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust – means the NHS in the North-East is facing a redundancy bill for more than £200,000.
But the council defended its actions describing the NHS bid for the contract as “very poor” and stressing that the authority was heavily investing in a new family weight management service.
In 2005 the North-East was among the first areas in the country to benefit from NHS personal trainers.
But since public health budgets were switched from the NHS to local councils some contracts have been awarded to private companies.
More Life’s website says the company delivers weight management and health improvement programmes to individuals, families, local communities and within workplaces and has an impressive track record.
It was founded by Professor Paul Gately, one of the UK’s most respected experts in obesity and nutrition
“We are determined to get clear answers from Stockton Council and the trust as to why this has happened and why our members are facing redundancy instead of transferring to the new provider. It’s simply not right and we need to get to the bottom of this quickly. “
Stockton Borough Council’s director of public health, Peter Kelly, said:
“The Stockton Health and Wellbeing board has commissioned a new service for children and family weight management investing £1.4 million over the next three years and in addition to this is also currently investing nearly £200,000 per year in services for adults. North Tees and Hartlepool Trust was one of the bidders for the new service but the quality of its submission was very poor.”
Source – Northern Echo, 27 Mar 2015
Cancer nurses at an award-winning unit face the prospect of re-applying for their own jobs after health bosses unveiled more cost-cutting plans.
Senior staff working at the chemotherapy unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool have been told that they will be interviewed for the jobs they are already doing as the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust looks to make more changes to services at the Holdforth Road site.
Bosses have confirmed that staff are being “consulted” about how the unit is staffed, but moved to reassure patients the level of service would not be affected if and when any changes are made.
It was revealed in September that the haematology unit at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, was being axed after Trust chiefs drew a blank in their search for new consultants.
Patients were reassured then that the move would have no impact on the existing chemotherapy service at Hartlepool.
But after plans were leaked , one staff member has accused Trust bosses Alan Foster and Paul Garvin of treating nurses with “total disrespect”.
Grandmother Brenda Cook, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the end of May last year and spent time at the unit undergoing gruelling bouts of chemotherapy, said it is a “disgrace”.
Brenda, 67, from Hartlepool, said the changes to the unit is a “crying shame”.
The Hartlepool unit has been a regular winner of the Hartlepool Mail’s Pride of Hartlepool awards in recognition of the care and support afforded to cancer patients by nurses.
It has won a special recognition award in the Mail’s Best of Health awards last year after winning the Team of the Year award in the four previous ceremonies.
A spokesperson for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said:
“We are currently consulting on the team structure of the chemotherapy and haematology service in the trust.
“The changes which have yet to be agreed will have no impact on the nursing care that patients receive.”
Save Our Hospital campaigner Keith Fisher said:
“How many times have they told us one thing and then done another?
“When they made the changes at North Tees cancer unit they said it wouldn’t affect Hartlepool.
“This isn’t about saving money, it’s about saving lives.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 05 Jan 2015
More than £900 for a single shift?
That’s what a Teesside hospital trust paid to one of its agency workers for a single day’s work this year.
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust paid out £907 to a staffing agency for one person to do one 11.5 hour shift some time after December 2013.
That works out at £78.87 an hour.
The NHS spends hundreds of millions of pounds a year on temporary staff and is increasingly being forced to find cover at the last minute as government cuts stretch staffing resources.
Although the figure for the North Tees trust, which operates the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, seems high, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that hourly rates for agency staff can go up to as much as £540.
This massive figure was paid out by the North Bristol NHS Trust in 2011 to an agency for a temporary worker to cover a 10.25 hour shift – meaning their total bill for one day’s work from one person was £5,554.
Chief executive Alan Foster for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said:
“There are always going to be occasions where we need to provide cover for shifts at short notice and we have measures in place to keep our agency spend down to an absolute minimum.
“We have a mix of our own staff who sign up to work additional shifts through our nurse bank and people from outside the organisation, including other NHS organisations, who have a zero hours contract with us which allows us to call on them when we need to.
“It is good to have this flexibility so we can respond quickly.”
South Tees Hopsitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, failed to provide a response to the Freedom of Information request.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 19 Sept 2014