The trade union which represents a number of staff at the Macmillan Wolds Unit has said the proposed changes at the ward are proving ‘very upsetting’ for the dedicated workers.
The unit’s future is uncertain as a consultation continues about a number of services at Bridlington Hospital, and Unite says the prospect of a transfer into the private sector will threaten the workers’ terms and conditions and job security.
The union believes it adds up to a ‘devastating blow for staff, patients and the local community’.
The consultation process could see East Riding Clinical Commissioning Group move services from the ward to hospitals in Beverley and Goole.
Unite is also worried because the Humber NHS Foundation Trust, has lost the community services contract to a private company City Health Trust from April.
In an interview on the Unite website, regional officer Malcolm Hancock said: “None of our members are looking forward to these changes.
“Staff are concerned about whether their terms and conditions will get worse and are worried whether their new employer will accept continued payments into the NHS pension scheme that they’ve paid into for many years.
“The union is trying to find out what is being planned and will be negotiating the best deal possible.
“Everyone is disappointed that they won’t be continuing to work for the NHS and to which they have been very dedicated.
“They worked over Christmas. It’s more than a job and they’re truly committed to looking after the patients.
“Every Unite member at Bridlington is very concerned that some of the services they provide in the public sector may suffer once they move into the private sector, which is, of course, set up to make a profit.
“This will only be achieved by cutting back on the wage bill, meaning less staff, or on the quality of materials used. It is a very upsetting situation that such dedicated workers find themselves facing.”
Healthcare assistant Melanie Williamson will have worked in the NHS for 18 years in January, having spent seven on the Macmillan Ward.
Last year she had her first Christmas break in years.
“I’d like to be off again as it was great,” she told the Unite website. “But the majority of patients can’t just leave and even those able to take a home break require assistance to be discharged.
“My job includes serving meals and helping patients get up and dressed.
“I also assist the physiotherapists as the ward intake includes rehabilitation patients, some of whom do not have any relatives or none that can visit as they don’t have private transport.
“These patients can be especially lonely at Christmas.
“I help patients through their end-of-life process and also work closely, communicate with and support their family members and friends.
“You find patients recall something that they would never tell their family. It is a real privilege to be looking after them in the most personal, sometimes desperate time of their lives.
“Some patients get very upset as they come to the very end of life and all of us in the Macmillan ward combine to provide spiritual support on this journey.”