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Shift patterns changed at four week's notice

Nurses working for NHS Direct could have their shift patterns changed with just four week’s notice under plans being pushed through by management.

Individual restrictions, where staff can limit when they work, will also be scrapped under the changes being introduced following a three month staff consultation. Instead staff will have to opt in to one of seven fixed rota options.

NHS Direct say the changes are essential if the organisation is to survive when the 0845 number is scrapped in April 2013 and replaced with a new phone number for non-emergency calls NHS 111.

The service’s 1,683 staff, including 785 nurse advisers, also face working more weekends and bank holidays under the changes while part time workers will have to do at least 15 hours a week. Currently the minimum commitment is five hours a week.

Royal College of Nursing employment relations officer Gary Kirwan told Nursing Times this meant some staff would be forced to leave. He said the new power to change shift patterns with just four week’s notice was a “big problem” for members and although NHS Direct had promised they would try to give more notice where possible they had refused to budge on the timesacle.

However, he said there was understanding for NHS Direct’s predicament.

“We are not going to say we are happy but we are in a climate where other places in the health service are going through changes. This is NHS Direct’s strategy for survival by winning NHS 111 contracts,” he said.

A report to NHS Direct’s board meeting on Monday, where the changes were approved, said inefficient staffing was costing the organisation about £1.25m every month.

The report said this would make it difficult for the service to compete against other providers bidding to run NHS 111 services and ultimately “jeopardise job security” for NHS Direct staff.

The changes are due to be introduced by March next year.

NHS Direct chief nurse Tricia Hamilton said: “The changes will make us more flexible and efficient so that we can deal with the changing pattern of call volumes expected when NHS 111 is rolled out, and so that we can continue to be available at the times our patients need us most.”

Readers' comments (6)

  • This is no surprise, it is the terms and conditions for any change of employment. This also happened to us having been TUPE'd to one of these all new spangly commissioned services, despite the TUPE conditions.
    Efficiency savings is the new alter at which we must all prostrate ourselves, regardless.

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  • Four weeks notice is a dream compared to some places I've worked in that gave you a day or two's notice IF you were lucky!

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  • mike | 1-Dec-2011 12:59 pm

    HEAR, HEAR...

    and not infrequently only a few hours and, not unknown, notice being given in the afternoon to do nights after completion of an entire day shift which finishes in the evening 'because there isn't anybody else to do it'! or returning on an early shift just 24 hours after the end of a series of nights because 'somebody' has made a mess of the planning without noticing it previously!

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  • "Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted."

    who or what is HTML please?

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  • if they employed less Admin assistants, "Analysts" and "project co-ordinaters, listened to what Nurses keep telling them about the patient being the priority then they would save some money.....

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  • Well, the rosters are published. Early shifts start from 04:00, night shifts finish at 10:00 am. Lone working on night shift. Staff leaving in droves. Well done NHSD!

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