Nurses and midwives in Cornwall are considering industrial action over a proposed downgrading of nursing posts affecting sisters and charge nurses.
Senior nurses at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust are having their roles reassessed in a £19m cost-cutting drive, which could lead to them being re-banded at a lower level on the Agenda for Change pay framework, unions have claimed. The changes affect around 80 nurses from band six up.
They warn that, as a result, industrial action is being considered as well as a vote of no confidence in management.
Trust managers have insisted they have followed guidelines and the changes are about simplifying structures rather than saving money.
A collective dispute hearing was staged last week at the trust’s Truro headquarters, which brought together Unison, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives.
Chris Dayes, Unison regional officer for Cornwall, said: “We are currently awaiting the outcome of the dispute…Morale amongst nurses is very low. It is a bad time for the trust to be disabling nursing functions and finances.”
Trust director of nursing Christine Rashleigh said: “The changes are not about cost cutting or making people redundant.
“We are talking constructively to our staff and unions about the proposals and will continue to work with them in the weeks ahead to get the right outcome for our patients.”
The trust, however, also recently announced it had identified the first 38 out of 400 posts that it needed to shed in order to help make £19m worth of savings this year. Midwives make up about 20 of the 90 posts under scrutiny.