Community nurses in Croydon have been handed disciplinary letters as employers ratchet up pressure in a row over the safety of lone workers, Nursing Times has learnt.
Croydon Health Services NHS Trust has told community staff funding cuts mean evening home visits must be carried out alone and not in pairs as they have done in the past (news, page 3, 4 October).
Unison and the Royal College of Nursing, who are supporting the nurses, had believed a compromise had been agreed with the trust, which allowed staff to travel in pairs after 7pm. But they said the trust has retracted this, offering instead 8pm.
The nurses argue their safety is at risk due to a recent shooting in the area and unease following the August riots. The trust has said, while it “appreciates” the concerns, it claims to have provided sufficient support in the form of monitoring devices and training.
Around 50 community nursing staff defied the directive when it came into force last Monday, holding a small protest and continuing to work in pairs.
However, the following night management handed staff disciplinary letters as they went on shift.
The letter, seen by Nursing Times, “expresses disappointment” that staff “refused to undertake a reasonable management instruction”.
The letter, from the trust’s assistant director of adult services Elaine Clancy, states: “It is my understanding that this refusal delayed visits to patients last night.
“This action can be deemed as a disciplinary matter and therefore will be fully investigated under the trust’s disciplinary policy.”
It adds that the “matter will be discussed” with union representatives.