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Hundreds of NHS staff forcibly moved to a private company, says UNISON

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by James M.
Hundreds of NHS staff forcibly moved to a private company, says UNISON
Image: Pentax

Moving 350 NHS staff into a Trust-owned private company has put Yeovil hospital in breach of licence, public service union UNISON has set out.

In a letter to NHS regulators, UNISON argues the Trust's decisions must be investigated.

Writing to NHS Improvement, UNISON set out Yeovil hospital’s failure to comply with the licencing requirement to have due regard for the NHS Constitution. The Constitution, which establishes what NHS patients and staff can expect from the service, states that NHS Trusts must “engage staff in decisions that affect them and the services they provide”.

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But Yeovil Trust bosses never asked their staff about the decision to set up the subco. In written responses to UNISON, senior managers stated they had no intention to consult any staff. This included the 350 about to be transferred out of the NHS.

This puts Yeovil Hospital in breach of licence because a condition of operation for NHS Trusts is to take “all reasonable precautions” against failing to meet standards. One of these is the need to pay attention to the NHS Constitution. In Yeovil, senior managers failed to explain why they would not abide by the requirement to take staff views into account.

UNISON has requested NHS Improvement investigate Yeovil’s error as a matter of urgency. The union is calling for the subco process to be frozen while the investigation goes on.

Helen Eccles, UNISON's Head of Health for the South West, said:

“Hundreds of staff at Yeovil hospital have lost out thanks to the cavalier attitudes of senior management. They have put Yeovil Hospital in breach of licence because they were so desperate to avoid asking staff what they thought of the subco plan. The reason for that is clear – hospital staff know that the subco plan is a mistake and would have said so to their bosses.

“Over one third of staff signed a UNISON petition calling on the Trust to engage with them, as per their responsibility in the Constitution. Sadly Trust bosses dismissed this strength of feeling among their employees, claiming people didn’t know what they were signing.

“As a trade unionist who has worked with NHS staff for years, I know that everyone, from estates and facilities to consultants, has an important voice to add. It’s a shame Trust bosses have ignored this and are now in breach of their licence.”

350 porters, cleaners and catering staff transferred into “Simply Serve” on Thursday (1 February 2018).

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‘Red bags’ will get patients home from hospital quicker

Innovative ‘red bags’ will help community patients admitted to hospital be discharged quicker are being rolled out across the country.

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by Matt Bodell.
‘Red bags’ will get patients home from hospital quicker

The ‘Hospital Transfer Pathway’ or ‘Red Bag’ helps provide a prompt, safe and efficient transfer of care.

Innovative ‘red bags’ will help community patients admitted to hospital be discharged quicker are being rolled out across the country.

Red bags will contain contains a copy of their personal information, past medical history, a supply of medicines and a change of clothes for when they are ready to be discharged.

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The simple initiative started three years ago in Sutton, South West London, and now all areas of the country are being urged to adopt the scheme with a toolkit launched today to help.

As well as giving reassurance to patients, the red bags will provide hospital staff with quick, up-to-date information and medication requirements for the patient, avoiding unnecessary phone calls.

The personal touch makes a big difference.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England National Medical Director, said: “This is an example of where a joined up approach is helping to improve patient care and speed up a stay in hospital for all the right reasons. Sometimes it’s the personal touch that makes a big difference to patients, especially if they’re elderly, and the red bag helps people feel reassured and more at home. Doing more of the obvious is key to improving all our experiences of care.”

Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Care at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “This scheme is an excellent example of the NHS and social care system working together to improve care and support for vulnerable older patients. Not only is this more efficient – saving valuable resources – but it’s a much better experience for patients leaving hospital when their treatment has finished.

“It’s encouraging to see this scheme being rolled out across the country as we move towards our ambition of joined up care that is centred around the individual.”

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Patients waiting more than 18 weeks for planned operations hits ten year high

We are seeing the highest figures since August 2008 when the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks stood at 520,564.

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by Chloe Dawson.
Patients waiting more than 18 weeks for planned operations hits ten year high

The amount of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for planned surgery has hit a ten year high.

Patients waiting for planned operations are paying the price for seeing the NHS through one of the worst winters in recent memory, warns the Royal College of Nursing, as waiting lists hit half a million.

Waiting lists are on the rise following the decision at the beginning of January to delay tens of thousands of operations as the health and social care system struggled to cope with the pressures of a colder than average winter.

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According to the latest figures, in April this year 500,068 people had been waiting more than 18 weeks for planned operations, an increase of more than 30 per cent (382,000) on the same time last year.

This is the highest figure since August 2008 when the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks stood at 520,564.

'A worrying upward trend'.

The April figure marks a worrying upward trend since January 2018, when the waiting list stood at 392,000.

The latest April figures also show the number of patients waiting more than a year has increased 83.8 per cent since the same period last year, from 1,568 to 2,882. This represents a 637 per cent increase from the same period in 2013.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Cancelling non-urgent care may have helped the NHS fight though one of the worst winters in recent memory, but patients in need of elective surgery should not have to pay the price for chronic staff shortages and years of underfunding.

“Half a million people have waited more than 18 weeks for planned care, the highest figure in ten years. And the number waiting more than a year is approaching 3,000. That is truly shameful. For these people, the Prime Minister’s promise of more NHS funding cannot come soon enough.

“But more funding is only half the battle. Addressing the 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone is not just a question of money, but requires long term workforce planning and a determined focus on improving recruitment and retention.”

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Patients will suffer as NHS deficit spirals out of control

NHSI blamed acute hospitals for the overspend due to an increased patient demand.

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by Chloe Dawson.
Patients will suffer as NHS deficit spirals out of control

NHS trusts in England have reported a combined financial deficit of nearly twice the amount planned.

The figures, released by NHS Improvement, showed a system under systematic strain and an NHS deficit of £960m in the last financial year - nearly double what the organisation had planned for.

NHS Improvement pointed out that 156 of the 234 trusts finished the year either reaching or exceeding their financial targets and said that acute hospitals were responsible for the overspend due to an increased patient demand. It added that other NHS organisations including ambulance services and mental health trusts had collectively underspent.

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During January, February and March alone, there were 1.1 million people who attended A&E who needed to be admitted for treatment – 70,000 more than the same period last year.

Heavily reliance on temporary workers.

The Royal College of Nursing has said that the chronic staffing shortage is partly to blame for the overspend with high vacancy rates and a heavy reliance on expensive temporary workers.

Offical figures show the sector is faced with 92,694 staffing vacancies - including 35,794 nursing vacancies and 9,982 medical vacancies.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These figures reveal both sides of the same coin – a cash-starved NHS forced to run without enough staff to treat people safely. For as long as hospitals remain £1 billion in the red, patients will pay a heavy price.

“The number of nurses missing from England’s NHS remains stubbornly high – hospitals cannot afford to recruit and inadequate numbers are being trained too.

“Theresa May and Philip Hammond cannot allow this financial knife-edge to continue. Whether the Chancellor announces the extra funding in time for the NHS anniversary this summer or waits until the Autumn Budget, it must be both substantial and genuinely new money. It would not be enough just to wipe these deficits – health and care budgets must be boosted to reflect genuine demand. Anything less exposes patients to unacceptable risks and leaves care increasingly unsafe.”

'Incredible resilience'

Ian Dalton, Chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: "Despite epic challenges, NHS staff up and down the country displayed incredible resilience and saw more patients than ever before within four hours.

"More than two-thirds of providers ended the year on budget or better than planned. Given rising demand and record vacancies, this is an important achievement."

Chris Hopson, Chief executive of NHS Providers claims a 5% annual increase in NHS funding is needed to maintain the same levels of care seen in Europe.

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