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

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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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Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

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Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

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With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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