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Updated: Barts confirms it will shed 160 nursing posts

A large London acute trust is to cut more than 150 nursing posts over the next few months.

Barts Health NHS Trust is to reduce its establishment by a total of 220 whole time equivalent posts, of which 161 are nursing posts.

A further 472 registered nursing and healthcare assistant posts will be down banded from band 6 to 5 and from band 3 to 2.

Confirmation of the cuts follows a three-week consultation which closed in October, as previously reported by Nursing Times.   

The trust has rowed back slightly from its original plans, which included shedding a total of 323 posts.

Barts Health, which has long-standing financial problems, has argued that the workforce changes are needed in order for it to afford the introduction of a 1:7 average staffing ratio across non-specialist adult areas.

It has cited a nursing skill mix review for the trust, carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which indicated that it had a higher than average proportion of band 6 and band 3 nursing staff.

In a document detailing the consultation outcome, the trust said: “We hope to avoid any redundancy dismissals but acknowledge it is a possibility.

“No dismissals will occur as a result of this consultation before approximately 1st December 2013 at the earliest.”

But the Royal College of Nursing said staff remained “angry, distressed and demoralised” by the cuts in the run up to Christmas.

Bernell Bussue, RCN London’s regional director, said: “The cuts at Barts are being rushed through to save as much money as possible, and the result is that patients will be put at risk.

“Barts has already been criticised by the Care Quality Commission for being short staffed. Mass job cuts are only going to make this situation worse.”

Barts Health Trust was formed from a merger of Barts and the London, Whipps Cross University Hospital and Newham University Hospital trusts in April 2012.

In a statement, the trust said it would “not compromise the safety of its patients under any circumstances” and that it would be staffing above the levels recommended by the RCN and the Safe Staffing Alliance, both of which have called for a minimum ratio of 1:8.

It said: “The changes - designed to improve efficiency and standardise staffing levels across the trust following our merger last year - were approved by our senior doctors and nurses only once they were fully satisfied that they would not adversely affect our patients’ safety in any way.”

The statement added: “We are doing everything possible to support our staff during what is understandably an anxious and unsettling time. Every effort will be made to re-deploy staff, whose position is lost, to vacant roles. 

“Where an individual’s pay band is reduced, because this is appropriate to the role they perform, or as an alternative to redundancy, they will have their pay protected, allowing them time to seek another role at their original banding and avoid a financial detriment.” 


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Readers' comments (34)

  • Does down-banding also mean de-skilling for these posts?
    I thought having higher skilled staff was necessary for higher standards of quality, safety and care.
    Have I missed something, other than basic finances? Maybe people at PwC could like to cover these shifts during the next few months.

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  • michael stone

    Unless I'm mistaken, there seems to be a 'belief' [among the people who control the money] that London is over-supplied with hospitals: this could just be the start, for London.

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  • Just to add to what Andy said; they will not have the same skill mix, so will unable to offer the same level of care. Are they going to accept fewer patients, or less "intensive" cases? Or are they expecting nursing staff to work to the same level of expertise, but accept a lower level of pay? You cannot pay Band 5 and expect to get Band 6 level of skill and responsibility!

    I haven't worked in London but cannot imagine that their wards are any less frantic than those elsewhere.

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  • Sad to hear this as I trained at Bartsyears ago. Unfortunately this is happening all over the UK - I now work in Yorkshire and we are currently undergoing massive cuts to all bands of staff, admin and clinical.

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  • yet there is another article on the shortage of nurses by 2016. It seems shedding those already in employment is not going to help the situation as unless they find other jobs they will become deskilled over time and may require further training for other fields or change direction and go into other careers altogether. Highly trained nurses requiring work are not just going to hang around until there is a shortage and not knowing whether the funding is available to re-employ them, not to mention the impact on patient care which has already been considered.

    Clearly hospitals are hard pushed to make savings but lack of staff and falling standards may force them to reduce the range of their services or closure whilst the trend is for demands to rapidly increase.

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  • well done managers, you must be so proud

    dont suppose you bean counters will be getting your hands dirty this winter on the wards that you will leave under-staffed

    downbanding of staff thats great for morale and retention....was it the clown business school you all went to

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  • This is a disgrace. Bart's Group has many units that are specialised and therefore the comment that it employs more that average of the higher grade nurses is misleading. They are needed for many of the patients referred there from District Hospitals who do not have the skills to manage these patients.
    It is outrageous that a firm of accountants should be telling us what nursing skills and competencies are necessary. We could save the money for nursing posts, evidence shows that better ratio of qualified: unqualified staff gives a better outcome for patients, if we stopped making the grey suits redundant, giving them massive payouts and re-employing them in 1 month's time!!

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  • it sounds as if the accountants just carried out a paper and pen exercise from which to draw their conclusions. anybody with a reasonable ability in maths could do that but it does not appear to take into consideration the levels of skills required in specialist patient care.

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  • Unfortunately the ones whose jobs could be cut are the one who are making the decisions and they are not going to suggest their own posts are overpaid or surplus to requirements. What is more to compensate for the reduction in skill they will introduce a shed load of more rules red tape and paperwork.

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  • Barts summary of the consultation is probably one of the most depressing papers I've ever read. Even where they've agreed with the objections the vast majority of the time they have gone ahead regardless. Every step has been 'signed off' by their 'chief nurse'- what a joke of a title- who doesn't seem to have any idea at all about safe staffing. She signed off a proposal for reducing staffing on their high dependency haematology ward to 1:7 ratio (1:4 against peers and current levels). This was later thrown out after consultation. When the chief nurse doesn't even understand safe nursing ratios for wards the non ward based nursing staff haven't a hope in hell of proving the value of their roles.

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  • “Barts has already been criticised by the Care Quality Commission for being short staffed.

    Surely if the above is correct the CQC needs to step in and ask the trust to look at other avenues to make cuts Not the mangers and bean pushers though God forbid.

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  • tinkerbell

    Jeremy Hunt, want to downgrade, disband, underfund, understaff hospitals, can't get the law of the land to agree with you, no problem, just change the law of the land. You can warp justice and society to serve your own political ideology, and as the final insult, get the working peasants to pay for it. It doesn't matter how much taxpayers money is wasted in this process so long as the end justifies the ideology. Make it even more difficult for anyone to object by bringing in 'gagging' laws. Job done.

    Call in pricewaterhousecooper to do the job for you. The Alumni? Unbiased & independent?

    Bernell Bussue, RCN London’s regional director, said: “The cuts at Barts are being rushed through to save as much money as possible, and the result is that patients will be put at risk".

    Any plans to do anything about that RCN?

    Yeah we know, poor turnout last time round, blah, blah. Let's have another try though eh? Peoples lives are at stake.

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  • Sorry to hear that good nurses in London are facing such challenging times. There is hope. In other parts of the UK, NHS hospitals are actively recruiting excellent nurses, e.g. Peterborough & Stamford.

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  • Basically Barts wants its staff to do a band 6 job at a band 5 payscale. This is unacceptable and demeaning to the nursing profession.

    These skill mix decisions came in just as Barts fell short of money. Coincedence?

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  • With all the expressions of disgust and outrage here, I wonder if nurses think that maybe they should do something about this? How about telling your unions that you wish to take some action? Spell out what you need to carry out safe care; refuse to accept downbanding; work to rule; go out on strike. Do something.

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  • We have bands 6 &7, told they not counted in the numbers for work on the floor. Grade 7 spend most her time doing staff rota when not chatting with grade 6 about shopping. Grade 6 sits in all the MDT meetings and also wants the staff nurse in charge of her lot to sit in as well, as grade 6 does not take on any responsiblities for patients only to delegate work. The staff nurses band 5 do all the paperwork and care and feel shattered at the end of each shift while band 6 has an easy ride.
    Really some nurses in position of leadership are still doing far too little.
    Ward management needs sorting out.
    My ward would function better with one nurse in charge and more band 5s' on the floor. Patients will get better care and staff will not be so shattered.

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  • Oh dear. I've realised why nurses do nothing. Disgruntled Band 5s think that downbanding is actually a good idea. No wonder Nursing is in the doldrums. No ambition, no aspiration. Clueless.

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  • all this banding is a ridiculous concept to start with.

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  • Anonymous | 3-Nov-2013 12:20 pm


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  • Anon 11:53am, downbanding is Not a good idea. what is being said is band 6 & 7 need to take some responsibility and do some work on wards instead of shunning responsibility and leavind all the work & responsibilities to band 5 in the name of delegating only.

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