Learning disability nurses vote for strike after private takeover
Nurses at a service that supports adults with learning disabilities in Doncaster have voted to strike over cuts in pay and conditions, after the service was taken over by a private provider.
The supported living service, which works with more than 140 people with learning disabilities and includes 24-hour care, was taken over by Care UK in September last year after it was awarded a contract by Doncaster Council.
Rob Green, a spokesman for Unison’s Doncaster health branch, said some nurses had already left the service because of planned changes announced in December. “There is no morale – they’re just devastated,” Mr Green told Nursing Times.
Around 25 remaining nursing staff had been asked to accept new terms and conditions that equate to an average £500 a month pay cut, he said. New contracts would mean reduced “enhancement” payments for working unsociable hours, reduced annual leave and moving to statutory maternity/paternity provision and statutory sick pay.
One staff nurse described the situation as “horrendous”. “I have never seen such low morale with people desperately trying to work out whether to abandon ship or stick with the service users,” the nurse told Nursing Times.
Unison balloted members last week, with 96% of 118 votes cast in favour of a seven-day strike. It is yet to be confirmed when it will take place.
But Care UK told Nursing Times its plan was necessary to keep the service viable. A spokeswoman said: “Our proposal is to do this without reducing basic pay while protecting future annual pay increments and securing NHS future final salary pension rights.
“We believe the best way to achieve this is to review the rates and opportunities for things like working evenings or weekends, and to bring paid holiday and sick pay into line with what is more normal for this sector.”