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Nurses fear move to 'privatise' nursing care in Bristol


Nurses and midwives working for an acute trust in the South West are opposing what they claim is a plan to “privatise” NHS nursing provision.

North Bristol Trust is planning a new health and social care centre. It has invited bids from organisations interested in providing nursing care in an arrangement believed to be one of the first of its kind.

The facility, which will also be built and owned by the private sector, will comprise a nursing home plus 68 community hospital beds. One nursing team would work across the whole centre. The idea is the trust will be able to make use of nursing home beds, for example to reduce delayed discharges.

Nursing Times understands none of the bidders currently shortlisted by the trust as potential providers of nursing care are NHS organisations although that could change.

Pam Ward, a midwife and the trust’s joint union committee secretary, said: “This will mean that nursing staff would, within this facility, be employed by the private sector, nursing NHS patients.

“Assuming that the quality of care is maintained to a high standard, profits can only be achieved by reducing the terms and conditions of these staff working for them. We feel that this is yet another attempt to privatise the NHS and to put vulnerable patients in the care of profit orientated companies.”

Trust director of projects David Powell told Nursing Times the intention was not to transfer existing trust staff to the new centre, as it was an additional facility that would provide non-acute care.

He said: “This is something new. We see it as a sister service to our main provision.”


Readers' comments (20)

  • O dear, profit over care - not a good move. I worked in the private sector for 4 months, I didnt like the cutbacks the company took to make sure their profit looked good. An example of profit over care, 1 RGB to medicate 30 frail elderly pts, 1 RGN to medicate 27 dementia care pts. this resulted drug rounds taking up to 3 hours, which resulted in any nursing care not being done until at least 11:30. Staff were tied, mistakes made, mainly drug errors, thankfully nothing of detrimental effect to the pt. Social enterprise in the community has resulted in nurses leaving and not being replace thus putting more pressure on colleagues to cover their work load. One nurse told me that she did not want to be responsible for providing inadequate care because her work load was so horrendous. She has now left nursing all together, such a waste.

    MPs use their status not to sit around GP waiting rooms and no doubt they get private healthcare so they have no idea the pressure that are being put on nursing staff in the NHS.

    Rant over, but think you have all got my point

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  • Nurses and midwives of this country come out on strike against this and all other attacks on the NHS, our patients and our own well-being. Problem solved.

    Not going to happen though, as the apathy and inaction amongst the nurses and midwives of this country is part of the problem.

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  • Mags | 27-Mar-2012 6:05 pm

    is it sure it is apathy and not some other underlying problems?

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  • This is not new, this has been happening in the out of hours services or years. NHS staff have been transferred out to private and 'social enterprise' companies and it has ended in crashing morale, increased risk and worse services.
    The point here is that the agents of this 'reform' are not in touch with the people who need care and more importantly don't care themselves. What they care about is income generation and profit.
    I said this before the election and what it would mean to vote Tory. This is the result.

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  • Anonymous | 27-Mar-2012 7:14 pm

    If not apathy, then what?

    As an example, only 16% of RCN members bothered to vote on pension reforms. Information was sent out to all members via email and post. Voting itself was straightforward and quick to do. Do nurses want to work longer for less whilst paying much more in contributions? I have spoken to my colleagues about this. I haven't met one yet who wants to work longer, etc,. However, I have also yet to speak to anyone who actually voted against the government plans for pension reform. Nursing, as a profession, is dogged by apathy. We complain plenty, blame everyone else and never look to ourselves for the solutions. We are the single biggest work force within the NHS and we have the voice of a timid mouse. If that is not apathy, then what is it?

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  • Anonymous | 27-Mar-2012 9:03 pm

    I couldn't agree more. Those who predicted this have been largely ignored.

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  • Mags | 28-Mar-2012 9:50 am

    Anonymous | 27-Mar-2012 7:14 pm

    I am not in a position to judge, but from another perspective and from outside the NHS, but with a deep interest in it having studied it in depth at university, I find the question of attributing apathy as causative factor among many other possible variables an interesting phenomenon and have been following all the posts here but just wondered if it there are other deeper seated problems than apathy alone. It would be interesting to hear from some of those who did not vote if they have reasons other than apathy for not doing so.

    It seems that blaming everything on apathy if this is not entirely the case will not address the problems. Could it also be because not all NHS workers and nurses support the same cause or because of different perceptions and experiences in different hospitals, for example. I would imagine that not all have the same difficulties or the same limitations on resources or managerial and organisation problems, but this is only speculation.

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  • tinkerbell

    In my experience from trying to generate some interest in my workplace it is absolutely apathy, total disinterest, i would go so far to say as it also involves being too dim witted to see the bigger picture, a lack of imagination, personal self interest 'i'm alright jack', ignorance, fear, not wanting to rock the boat. Take your pick from that lot. Oh and that we're all mostly females and subservient handmaids when push comes to shove.

    It was an eye opener for me. I had thought they had more to them, especially as i have had to endure years of listening to nurses moan about trivial stuff, i thought they would be angry about finding their careers were under threat, our society was under threat, but not a titter.

    They must either be incredibly rich or incredibly stupid and i know they are not rich.

    We'd all been told by management that we were lucky to still have jobs, following all the redeployments that had come onto our unit from ward closures.

    Even discussing it with them i could sense fear as though they were thinking 'for goodness sake someone might hear you'. I assume management. Guess it doesn't help that i'm the ward sister and they might, just speculating, thought i was trying to set them up and report back to management. Who knows?

    I felt totally frustrated with them.

    They cannot say though that by the time they had an opportunity to vote they were still ignorant, i had been informing them of everything i was learning on every shift i worked and bringing them up to speed. I was mostly faced with a sea of blank faces.

    When i asked colleagues last year would they take industrial action to protect their pensions, they said 'yes'.

    When i asked would they take industrial action to save the NHS they said 'no'

    Unbelievable. They couldn't see apparently that the two were intrinsically linked, nor that saving OUR NHS was actually more important in the long term.

    I reflected long and hard on the whys and wherefores of their pathetic (non) response.

    It matters not a jot to me anymore what their reasons for inaction are. It's all purely academic now. I can now just go back to discussing nursey stuff, strictly come dancing, emmerdale. They usuallly generate animated discussion. Problem is i dry up as i don't actually feel very passionate about what's on TV as i don't have much interest in it all, so right back at me as to how they felt when i was trying to discuss how they felt about OUR NHS I guess, not interested. Aha!

    Action needed to be taken, it wasn't, we're stuffed.

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  • Anonymous | 28-Mar-2012 10:14 am

    Having worked in the NHS, in a variety of nursing roles in a variety of locations for thirty years, I can assure you that the biggest problem amongst nurses is apathy. I don't blame "everything on apathy" and I am well aware that the apathy itself has a variety of contributory factors. However, if you want something to change, you have to take responsibilty and endeavour to change it. Most nurses don't do that and are very good at finding excuses for doing nothing.

    In the recent union day of action over the pension issue, very few nurses in those unions actually participated in marches or stood with their NHS colleagues at the hospital gates. Other NHS groups of workers were well represented. Most of my union nursing colleagues spent the day shopping or just stayed at home. As one of them said, "It was a rotten (rainy) day and I couldn't be bothered standing around in the rain." But ask her if she wants to contribute more to her pension, get less in return and work for longer, and she'll rant for hours.

    My colleagues are very vocal to one another in their complaints about the common causes of staffing levels, pay and conditions, management, pension cuts, etc., etc. The problem is that they want someone else to fix it for them. Of course, there are exceptions to this. There are bound to be those who are happy with their lot. I do not believe them to be in the majority. Far from it.

    Within the nursing profession as a whole, I do not believe that very many practising nurses even read the Nursing Times or any other publication, never mind comment in it. There is a lot of ignorance about policies and plans which have massive impacts on the NHS and the working lives of nurses. As with everything, there are exceptions. There are some very passionate, active nurses out there, (some of whom contribute on this site), trying to make a difference. However, make no mistake, apathy is rife and is a huge problem in this profession.

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  • Mags | 28-Mar-2012 11:27 am

    Anonymous | 28-Mar-2012 10:14 am

    Many thanks for your time in explaining this very sorrowful situation. I have been fortunate in spending my long career, after training in the NHS, in a very different setting with very positive attitudes where although in a state run hospital we had the luxury of having adequate resources to enable us to concentrate on patient care and develop our expertise.

    I just cannot imagine all this apathy from well-educated professionals working in such worthwhile and passionate job which has the potential to offer so many opportunities and just wondered whether there was a bias in many of the NT comments.

    Maybe I have been misguided in thinking that there were other reasons which needed to be addressed in order to help galvanise the profession into further action to safeguard its future and improve its outlook which once looked, for a short period in it's history, quite promising.

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