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NHS Direct nurses warned they could face redundancy

More than 1,400 NHS Direct staff have been warned they could be at risk of redundancy as the organisation shrinks by around a third, Nursing Times has learnt.

Nurses and call handlers that do stay on to deliver the new non-emergency NHS 111 telephone number, which will replace NHS Direct’s 0845 number next year, are being asked to take a pay cut.

NHS Direct won contracts to deliver NHS 111 in a third of the country and will need just 850 full time equivalent staff to provide the service. It currently employs around 1,900 staff or 1,525 full time equivalents.

Back office staff are expected to be hit especially hard, while a 40% reduction in the proportion of calls handled by clinicians in NHS 111 compared to NHS Direct means significantly fewer nurses will be needed.

NHS Direct estimates up to 300 more full time equivalent jobs could be saved to provide national complex health and dental information services and online services.

However, the NHS Commissioning Board has only this week confirmed it will be commissioning these services and exact details have not been worked out.

Chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing Peter Carter said: “It is good news that some specialist services will be retained and additional sites will remain open, but it is worrying how long it took to recognise our concerns about the gaps which are going to be left by the move away from NHS Direct.

The new slimmed down NHS Direct will operate out of 12 sites compared to 30 at the moment. A 90 day consultation with staff began on Monday.

Unison national officer for NHS Direct Michael Walker described the roll out of NHS 111 as an “unmitigated disaster”.

He added: “We are within months of the winding up of NHS Direct and still the government has no real idea about the eventual impact on jobs or patient care.”

Senior nurse advisers, currently on a band six Agenda for Change salary, will be asked to accept a band five if they want to transfer into a similar role with NHS 111. Health advisers will be downbanded from a band three to a band two if they choose to stay on.

Long serving staff will get pay protection for up to three years but employees who have worked there for less than two years will get just six months protection.

NHS Direct chief executive Nick Chapman said: “NHS Direct is committed to avoiding redundancies wherever possible by redeploying staff into suitable alternative employment providing the new NHS 111 service with NHS Direct or one of the other providers of the service, or into roles in the wider NHS.”

Readers' comments (10)

  • This is an outrageous way to treat professionally qualified staff. If the role with NHS111 is "similar", why on earth do they expect anyone to do it on a lower band? I just hope that everyone refuses the downbanding, and forces re-employment on the same terms and conditions. Don't accept this relentless attack on the nursing profession. Don't let them dilute the profession.

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  • How many chief executives would view an offer of a post on substantially reduced terms to be 'suitable alternative employment'.

    All in it together? Yeah, right....

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  • Oh, well there's a surprise.

    Must trim staff numbers down ready for privatisation....

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  • Are we all in this together Mr Cameron?

    We'll soon find out when our NHS number is the same as that on our Credit Card!

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  • Basically !!!..when will the NHS eventually collapse, and be replaced by...have you got insurance sir....???..I blame the fact that it is a walk in for anyone as is the benefit system...come to the UK, get free housing, free health care, free benefits...work the system. The hard working British tax payer loves u all !!!!!

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  • Anonymous | 6-Dec-2012 4:26 pm

    The government have obviously done a very good job of pulling the wool over your eyes.

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  • tinkerbell

    oh let's face it, this cull is heading towards all of us. This is the plan of this unelected government, and end to the NHS. At some point we will all be under threat, redeployed, under new contracts, paid less. 49% of the NHS is beig privatised remember.

    They are programmed to destroy us/it. Tory ideology at its best.

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  • Anonymous | 6-Dec-2012 2:32 pm

    "How many chief executives would view an offer of a post on substantially reduced terms to be 'suitable alternative employment'.

    All in it together? Yeah, right...."

    send them all to the shop floor to do some proper work. the only problem in the case of healthcare they would not possess the relevant or adequate skills and qualifications which would be a public danger. They could be offered apprenticeships but those without the suitable qualities would have to be excluded altogether.

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  • I see some will get 3 years salery protection - I suppose that might keep them a bit quieter for a bit longer; but it suggests that the changes to staff employment terms cannot be legal if they refuse to accept them??

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  • Anonymous 06 December 4.26 p.m.

    You are sooooo right, thank you for having the guts to say what many think. I can understand that you wish to remain anonymous - you'd probably be kicked out of your job if you revealed your true feelings. I dare say you'd be labelled "not compassionate enough to be a nurse". When is this madness going to stop??? We are just a dumping ground for the whole world, and the government has decreed we will all pick up the tab for their cosy lifestyle and not complain. UK citizens in work are paying a lot of money every month for their health care, pension and benefits if they should need them in the future. It is national INSURANCE for God's sake - and ONLY those who have paid in should benefit. Exceptions would be UK citizens who are severely disabled and incapable of work. I am sick and tired of working to keep a load of slackers in luxury.

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