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NHS Direct nurses asked to work out of hours


Increasing privatisation of the health service is leading to many changes for NHS Direct staff.

At NHS Direct, the call centre service for members of the public, around 1,100 nurses are being asked to change their shift patterns and conditions of work in order to better “compete” with other public sector groups and businesses to provide the 111 service.

Management want to rewrite the contracts of around 2,300 frontline workers and restructure the working day in order to swing the emphasis of NHS Direct to an out-of-hours service. To this end, it is in the middle of a 90-day consultation with staff.

The 0845 number is being replaced by 111 in April 2013 when the service is opened up to the private sector. Half of NHS Direct workers have restricted hours thanks to their historical employment contracts, although according to management, this “severely limits the ability to staff contact centres during the busiest periods of the current service and future service plans”.

A spokeswoman for the service said: “We are preparing the organisation for a change in operating model because early findings of the 111 pilots suggest it will be a more out-of-hours service.

“This consultation outlines a set of proposals about how to staff a 111 service, and we are really engaging with staff on how we are going to make this work.”



Readers' comments (19)

  • The headline is very misleading the majority of NHS Direct frontline staff already work OOH which includes evenings ,weekends ,nights and bank holidays. The proposal is to significantly increase the OOH shifts for all frontline staff.

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  • If the staff are being asked to significantly change the conditions of their contracts, then I hope they are demanding an increase in their pay and remuneration to offset it? I didn't think so. It is about time employers realised they cannot bleed every last drop of blood out of Nurses without giving anything back.

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  • Mike-think through the logic of your last posting:If NHS Direct nurses demand more money they will price the service out of the market and they'll all lose their jobs. This way their devil-worshiping, hate filled employers and managers are probably trying to actually keep them in employment. Slagging off those that manage and pay us is fun but ultimately gets the profession nowhere. Not eveyone above a Band 5 is evil personified you know. The problem is the government this country voted in, not the people trying to work within their rules

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  • Re: last post - I am a Band 6 being managed by a Band 5 who has no clinical/nurse training ??? Who the hell thought that one up - oh yes, I remember - it was the "management". Are they trying to keep us in employment ? Well they are doing it in a very strange way by using harassment techniques and trying to make things so unbearable for Nurses ( some who have been loyal to NHSD for 10+years) that qualified staff leave. This means they can't employ more and more Agency Nurses who they can dismiss at any given time.

    Gary Kirwan got it in one - NHSD wants to run on a temporary workforce basis so that there is no need to pay redundancy.

    There is a way to fight for our jobs, but it surely should not involve the techniques they are using at the moment.

    Nurses at NHSD are being greatly undervalued ,treated very shabbily and
    breaking lots of employment laws.

    Work related stress sickness levels are through the roof. Yes, things have to change and evolve in the current climate , and I have been involved with and had to cope with changes in the workplace as a Band 6 for many years. But - and this is the crux of the matter, treat your staff well, keeping them happy and motivated equals better performance and happier staff. I don't think people can envisage how bad management are dealing with Staff until you have worked there yourself.

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  • I'm in the process of applying for a NHS Direct nursing post, does the privatisation mean that the banding will be under threat? Does it also mean that the future of the post will be uncertain?
    After reading the last post, I'm wondering if I'm doing the right thing

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  • Anonymous | 21-Aug-2011 11:51 pm

    The current attrition rate for new starters is 45%- that is the number who do not last 12 months in the job.

    But maybe you will enjoy a job where even your "comfort breaks" are measured and managed and where improving performance (reaching targets based on costs)is managed by disciplinary procedures.

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  • To Anonymous 20th August 10.53am. I am a Band 5 Manager and would like to correct you on your post. Yes as a Band 5 I manage but do I manage your clinical expertise, NO I DONT! The role of a Band 5 manager is one of managing areas like Sickness, Annual Leave, Rota issues, training and such. Yes we review your calls but this is a generic review surrounding your ability to follow the processes outlined for certain call types. We do not review your calls in a Clinical capacity as that is carried out by a Clinician. When drawing up action plans re performance for example this are carried out in consultation with a Clinical Lead that has been assigned to both the Team Manager and Clinical Staff Member.

    If you were to run a business in lets say Accountancy would your utilise one of your highly qualified and well paid accountants to sign time sheets, check annual leave entitlement, monitor sickness and such alike......mmmmmmm I doubt it !

    Just because we don’t have a clinical qualification do you believe it beneath you to be managed and assisted by a Band 5 team manager? I hope not as that is really a rather bigoted attitude.

    Yours sincerely
    Ms Undervalued and now it appears also under qualified Manager (NHS Direct employee of 10 years+)

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  • To Anonymous | 22-Aug-2011 5:28 pm.

    With all due respect this is not a question of a bigoted attitude.

    The question posed by the Band 6 nurse above would no doubt be echoed by most other NAs of whatever banding. And why is that. Do you seriously believe that any major gripe with line managers is to do with the handling of leave entitlement and rota queries.

    No it is not.

    The problem with the lack of clinical training is that there is a resultant complete lack of insight, empathy or whatever else you want to call it into the work demands of nurses trying to balance clinical safety and the well-being of patients against arbitrarily imposed targets which by their very nature pull in the opposite direction. (A little less time with that distressed caller, Nurse, there are financial implications to your AHT)

    How ridiculous is it that the first thought of an NA wrapping up a long and traumatic call is “that’s ruined my figures for the month, will my line manager put me on an action plan”

    Part of the role of management should be to provide clinical and professional support, direction and understanding. Instead we have a box-ticking bean-counting management system that is oppressive and completely demoralising. Is this effective nurse management? Computer says No.

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  • If you work for NHSD and you want any union support at all !!! ever DO NOT USE your in house representatives, ring the national RCN or Unison number given on your union card.
    Go the right way, hindsight is a great thing !!!

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  • Call centre ethos!! Get as many calls completed in the hour as possible!!!
    They aren't patients they are figures.

    NHSD just the same, however they are patients, people in need of our help or direction.
    We are were not selling insurance, double glazing, stone cladding etc.

    Dealing with peoples health (mental as well as physical) requires a little more skill. Attentiveness to detail, resulting in positive outcomes for the client requires a little more time (more than a non clinician can ever perceive)

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