Trust proposals could see district nurse posts cut by nearly 20% in south Manchester, Nursing Times can reveal.
The proposed district nurse cuts to the number of whole-time equivalent posts have sparked concerns about high workloads and burnout for the remaining staff.
University Hospital of South Manchester Foundation Trust wants to remove 24 posts from its community nursing team, decreasing the number of whole time equivalents from 139 to 115.
“They are frazzled. It’s difficult for them to deal with the pressures at the moment”
Meanwhile, it is understood nurses will see their working patterns reviewed, with the trust introducing more shift working so the community nursing service is in operation 24 hours.
Nursing Times understands the cuts are due to a skill mix review and also the removal of £601,000 funding by the local clinical commissioning group for a pilot scheme that paid for 17 nursing posts.
The skill mix review found there were too many senior nurses within the community nursing team and Nursing Times understands it now wants to decrease the number of band 7 and 8a posts.
Meanwhile, the “neighbourhood team” pilot funding was withdrawn by South Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group on 1 April.
Nursing Times understands the trust does not expect any compulsory redundancies due to many of the posts currently being filled by bank workers, normal staff turnover and plans to redeploy some employees. It is understood that six nurses would be moved elsewhere within the trust.
But concerns have been raised that the proposed cuts would mean the remaining community nursing team is under increasing pressure to deliver care for the same patient caseload.
The plans would also have a “dramatic effect” on the ability for the trust to discharge its patients into the community, according to a local union representative from Unison.
Unison’s regional organiser Tim Ellis said the planned cuts came at the same time the trust was being required to reduce hospital bed spaces.
“The pressure for discharge has increased at the same time as the capability to support discharge is being decreased,” said Mr Ellis.
He warned that district nurses were in short supply locally and that future vacancies resulting from burnout among the remaining staff would be hard for the trust to fill.
“The district nurses are already off their feet and working beyond their contracted hours,” he told Nursing Times.
“They are frazzled. It’s difficult for them to deal with the pressures at the moment and so the workload will only get worse for them – it will increase by about 20% following the planned cuts,” he said.
“It is short-term thinking to be pushing staff out of service, when only in a couple of years you will be looking to attract such difficult-to-recruit staff,” he added.
The trust’s final proposals follow a consultation, months of discussions with union representatives, and a petition signed by around 1,500 people opposing the cuts.
“The district nurses are already off their feet and working beyond their contracted hours”
In its original plans, distributed in January, the trust wanted to remove more district nursing posts – 28 WTEs in total – largely due to efficiency savings it believed it could make through introducing more mobile technology for district nursing teams.
Nursing Times has learnt that while the trust still plans to issue mobile devices and laptops to its community nurses, it will now complete a pilot study before deciding whether it can save money in this way.
Staff are expected to be updated on the final proposals on 9 June and, following feedback, the plans will be implemented by the end of July.
A spokeswoman for the trust said: “University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust has been engaging with its community nursing teams.
“The final outcome of this community nursing consultation has not yet been communicated to colleagues, so at this stage, it would be inappropriate for the trust to comment further,” she added.