EXPERIENCED hospital staff could end up working for less pay.
And fears are growing that many will then leave and patients will end up receiving treatment from less experienced staff across a range of therapies from speech to physiotherapy.
According to a Huddersfield Royal Infirmary health worker, cuts to the hospital’s therapy services appear inevitable.
The worker who wished to remain anonymous said: “We are currently in a consultation period that involves the restructuring of therapy services in Calderdale and Huddersfield Trust.
“These changes will involve re-banding the current levels of staff so as the service will be functioning with less experienced and unqualified staff.
“This rebanding will involve all physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and dieticians.”
The worker explained that the restructuring could mean highly qualified therapists who currently work in high-banded therapy positions could end up working in lower bands.
“There are seven band seven places, when there used to be 14 and there is expected to be plenty more band four places yet less band fives.
“As the NHS have said they hope not to move anyone down more than one band, there is definitely not enough jobs for the amount of staff that currently work at the hospital.
“Those that do get moved down will be working in bands they are overqualified for and people who don’t want to waste their levels of experience are likely to leave – meaning patients will be treated by less qualified staff.
“They are saying they are trying to prevent redundancies by restructuring and rebanding, but after a period of protected pay many staff will be paid less than they currently are.
“I feel this ethically wrong for staff already working under a pay freeze with inflation as it is.
“Another major concern I have is that services are bound to be affected, and patients will not get the level of treatment that they had previously and I am unsure that the public have been involved or consulted in this process.”
In response to the allegations, a trust spokesman said: “The trust has completed a consultation exercise with staff in partnership with our staff-side organisations about a proposed new structure within our clinical therapies teams.
“We have taken the views of our staff into account in developing the new structure. Following the consultation, we are implementing a structure which will ensure that we have the right skills in place to deliver a more patient focussed service, to meet the needs of our service users.
“This could mean that some staff may have different roles in the future.
“The trust has no plans to make redundancies.”
The concerns follow a national report by the Royal College of Nursing earlier this week, which deemed the NHS was in ‘crisis’ and 56,000 jobs had been or were due to be cut across the UK.
The RCN’s report also warned of posts being downgraded or ‘reclassified’ to save money and staff performing the same duties for less pay.
The information was gathered from 41 NHS trusts – the names of which were not disclosed and analysis of board meeting papers, forward planning and strategy documents.
But it was later deemed as ‘scare mongering’ by health minister Simon Burns.
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s shadow health secretary commented on the RCN’s report, he said: “This worrying report comes after a week of bad news in the NHS and shows how quickly it is slipping backwards.
“Ministers are dangerously out of touch with the reality on the ground in the NHS.”