Sunday, 22 January 2012

At last, other larger organisations start to speak out!


Unions have today united to declare they have lost confidence in north Cumbria’s hospital bosses and call on the entire board to resign.
Cumberland Infirmary photo
The Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle
Eight unions and professional bodies have issued a joint statement in the light of ongoing cost-cutting and subsequent safety concerns at the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital.
However hospital chiefs immediately hit back, dismissing claims that patients are at risk and calling on union leaders to sit down with them to discuss concerns in detail.
They have been backed by an independent assessor, who was sent to both the Carlisle and Whitehaven hospitals before Christmas due to concerns raised in the media.
Professor Aidan Mullan, who was appointed by the Strategic Health Authority, said that although he had made some recommendations for improvement, overall he did not have any serious concerns about the way patients are being cared for.
However, the unions – including Unison, the Royal Colleges of Nursing and Midwives, GMB, Unite, and the professional physiotherapy, radiography and podiatry societies – have set out a string of specific reasons which have led to them losing confidence in the ability of bosses to manage staff and services safely and effectively.
They include:
  • recent reports of higher than expected death rates;
  • evidence that staff morale has hit an all-time low;
  • claims staff are overstretched and stressed;
  • plans to cut a further £15m from operating costs;
  • concerns about inadequate reporting procedures;
  • claims staff are being bullied or intimidated into not formally reporting concerns about safety and quality;
  • concerns about the impact of bed reductions on care.
The organisations also highlight a recent report into hospital spending, which revealed excessive maintenance payments at the Carlisle PFI hospital, and revelations interim chief executive Neil Goodwin has been paid £129,000 for his first five months in post while most frontline staff have had their pay frozen.
The unions state: “It is the professional opinion of our members that the trust’s cuts and restructuring programmes are not in the interests of patients or the public. Furthermore, it is our position that the quality and safety of patient care is suffering as a direct result of mismanagement of existing resources.
“We therefore declare that we no longer have confidence in the trust to deliver a safe and effective service, and call on the trust executive and board to consider their positions accordingly.
“We are also calling on the relevant authorities to take urgent and robust action to intervene and ensure that the quality of patient care at the trust is protected.”

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