‘Hospital changes risk infections’

The anaesthetic was stolen this morning from Bridlington Hospital
The anaesthetic was stolen this morning from Bridlington Hospital

Health officials have downplayed changes to working hours and pay at Bridlington and Scarborough Hospitals following allegations hundreds of employees could be affected.

Unite the Union have begun a grievance procedure against the York Hospital Trust following an allegation that almost 550 employees are facing a reduction in hours or changes to their terms and conditions.

A number of maintenance craftsmen currently receive the Recruitment and Retention Premia Award (RRP) nationally after changes to the NHS pay structure in 2004, in order to bring them in line with national pay standards.

The award results in up to £3,200 being awarded to a staff member, but the Trust revealed this will now be phased out over the next three years.

The changes are expected to affect 25 staff members, including ones from Bridlington, Scarborough and York hospitals, and in three years their RRP will be phased out altogether.

A spokesperson for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “The scheme has been phased out nationally and York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is now coming into line with this. As a responsible employer the Trust has taken the decision to phase the scheme out over three years. This does not affect an employee’s annual increment which will still be awarded where applicable.”

Unite the Union officer Terry Cunliffe said: “The Trust has gone in breach of their agreement and now Unite have started a grievance procedure against them.

“There is still a need for the Recruitment and Retention Premia Award with some people relying for the extra money to pay for their bills or mortgage. This is causing a significant impact on people’s lives who are already not being paid a huge salary. We are determined to defend our members to ensure a solution can be found.”

In further efforts to save money the Trust are also looking into changing the shift patterns of 520 employed cleaners, including those working at Bridlington and Scarborough.

The Trust’s spokesperson added: “The Trust has in recent years taken on a number of new hospitals each with different shift patterns and rotas for cleaning. An external audit was done to establish the number of hours needed to meet the National Cleaning Standards for each ward.

“We are considering what changes need to be made to our rotas as a result of this audit. Staff will be consulted on any changes. Their NHS terms and conditions will not be affected.”

However Mr Cunliffe is worried about safety in hospitals as a result of hour cuts to cleaning staff and does not feel the National Cleaning Standards can be maintained.

He said: “The changes are not going to improve the services.

“I am anxious to avoid deaths in the NHS and these changes could make us vulnerable to infections. We should be increasing our cleaning services to ensure a safe environment for staff, patients and visitors at our hospitals.”