Top consultant speaks out for struggling staff

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A senior consultant at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary has spoken out about the “divisive” effect that hospital cuts are having on staff.

The consultant, who did not wish to be identified, said he felt that there was “an intentional drive towards the collapse of the free health service system”, where the taxpayer would have to pay extra for surgery like hip replacements.

He also said Morecambe Bay’s NHS Trust was looking to reduce the number of beds at the RLI by 40, with 100 beds in total to be lost across the trust.

The trust said that any reduction in beds “will not be from closing services or treating fewer patients, but by working more efficiently”.

The consultant said: “We’re heading towards Americanisation, and the sad thing is that in America they are looking at moving towards our system.

“Sometimes it’s embarrassing to carry out this job.

“When patients come in and we don’t have their records to hand, sometimes we’re having to say ‘why are you here?’, because the records just aren’t there.”

A recent staff survey within the trust revealed that staff satisfaction with the quality of patient care they are able to deliver was in the worst 20 per cent in the country compared to other acute trusts, and that staff motivation and engagement with the trust, their work and other staff fell into the same bracket.

Only 19 per cent of staff across the trust felt that communication with senior management was good.

The trust said that it had implemented measures since then to increase staff engagement.

It is thought that 170 nursing, midwife and support staff are at risk of losing their jobs, as well as 40 administration staff, and 20 estates and faculty staff.

A consultation into job roles is currently underway, and the trust said that it would try to mitigate losses by reducing reliance on agency staff.

Part of the problem, said the consultant, was that “cuts and culls of staff were not spreading to management.”

“Staff are extremely demoralised”, he said, “The threat of cuts is having a divisive effect, and we’re just not attracting enough people, especially trained consultants.

“The biggest scandal is the fact that staff who are supposedly taking the ‘clinical lead’, instead of managers, are those who don’t represent people on the ground and they’re happy to tow the management line.

“There’s a big carcass inside this trust, and the good people’s voices just aren’t being heard.”

Jackie Daniel, chief executive, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust said that that the new clinical leadership roles that replaced senior management leaders “have a key role in communicating with staff.”

She added: “One of the challenges this trust faced last year was the disconnection between managers and clinicians when making decisions.

“The new board recently firmed up the arrangements seeing clinicians being permanently appointed to leadership roles in charge of clinical services, rather than the old system at the beginning of last year which had managers in charge.

“These roles have a key role in communicating with staff.

“The doctors, nurses and midwives now in charge of our services are on the front line every day, able to provide timely information to staff and patients.”