Leading end of life care charity Marie Curie Cancer Care has been accused of being “unfair” to nursing staff over changes to its off-duty rota system.
The charity is planning to roll out a system for contracted staff that will mean nursing staff can only request when they take a maximum of four of their off-duty days per month. Currently, most of staff submit requests for any number of their off-duty days, which are then considered by managers, before rotas are drawn up.
The revised system, which has operated in Wales since 2004, is due to be piloted in the north west of England between February and April, with a view to extending it to the rest of the country. The move will initially affect 1,200 staff.
However, Nursing Times understands the move has sparked anger among some of the charity’s workforce.
Peter Sinden, a senior HCA who has worked for the charity for three years, said he had previously been able to request up to 10 guaranteed off duty days and that four days was not enough.
“It is grossly unfair to have 26 to 27 nights in control of Marie Curie and makes it very hard to live or plan your own life,” he told Nursing Times.
Dawn Tame-Battell, assistant director of patient services at Marie Curie, told Nursing Times the change was to ensure patients received care when they needed it, and stressed staff would still get the same total number of days off.
She highlighted that it had become customary for staff to submit their availability and expect to have rotas devised around that.
“People weren’t requesting, but telling us, when they were going to work whether or not there were patients to care for,” she said. “This an attempt to make sure staff are actually working to their terms and conditions.”
Ms Tame-Battell added: “Staff will put in their off duty requests. We will then compile an off duty, trying to meet their requests, but that balances the needs of the service and patients as well as ensuring staff have good periods of rest.”
She admitted nurses had already raised concerns, but said some of those were because staff had not fully understood the proposed changes. “People have raised concerns but we believe we have addressed some of those,” she said.
Ms Tame-Battell said the charity would consider amending the system in light of staff feedback after the pilot.
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