The majority of staff are opposed to the changes, and RCN reps have worked in partnership with other staff side colleagues with input from trust staff to produce a counterproposal which outlines the negative impacts the proposed changes would have on the staff and the care they deliver and offers an alternative solution.
“Effectively the changes - reducing twelve-hour shifts to 11.5 and enforcing one-hour lunchbreaks - are a transparent way of getting an extra shift out of staff every month for free,” said clinical sister, lead RCN rep and chair of staff side Roaqah Shaher. “The trust knows that staff can’t take the full breaks they are due as it is because they are concerned for patient care quality. Sometimes there are only two nurses in a clinical area so it is impossible for one to leave for a proper break. The trust is exploiting staff’s good will at the expense of our wellbeing. Last year the trust saved millions of pounds, and if these shift changes go ahead I understand that it expects to save a further £2.3 million. If it is saving this kind of money then it is at the expense of its own staff. We have to pay extra travel and childcare expenses, we work through breaks and after shifts for free, and now some people, especially those with certain disabilities, will not have enough time to recover in between shifts. The changes may make sense in terms of the trust’s financial bottom line, but in fact they don’t work at all in terms of staff health, wellbeing and finances.”
Roaqah continued: “We will persevere with representing staff and patients’ best interests by providing detailed critique of the trust’s proposals, explaining exactly why they are unfair and won’t work”.
The first version of the staff side counterproposal was sent to all RCN members at the trust on 29 January. An updated counterproposal has now been produced incorporating feedback from the director of nursing and staff side’s response to her comments, backed up by suggestions and other input gained during affected staff’s one-to-ones.
The trust’s response and final decision is expected next Wednesday 20 April.