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Job fears for appointment staff at Cumbrian hospital

Outpatient appointment staff at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven face losing their jobs if they don’t agree to travel to Carlisle.

West Cumberland Hospital photo
West Cumberland Hospital

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust wants to introduce centralised appointment bookings at a new centre on an industrial estate.

In a consultation document, the trust says refusal to make the 80-mile-round journey could be deemed as resignation as it is “reasonable travel distance’’.

The trust says centralised bookings will “improve patient experience’’ and is consulting with the staff over the move.

But one employee said staff were completely devastated by the news.

“These latest plans aren’t a choice. It is unlikely the 17 staff will be able to make the journey and could therefore lose their jobs. It is not reasonable to make them travel an extra two hours a day to work.”

The trust did not respond when asked whether staff would be ineligible for redundancy if they refused to move.

A spokesperson said: “We have recently begun consultation with our outpatients booking staff at both the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital in order to improve the service we offer patients.

“Whilst the outpatients reception desks in both our hospitals will remain in place and continue to play a vital role, we would also like to introduce a new centralised contact system, similar to the successful model in place at Northumbria Healthcare.

"With over 250,000 outpatient appointments every single year, this will allow us to standardise booking processes, prevent overbooking and help us ensure that all of our patients have their appointments within nationally recommended timescales."

Have your say

There have been hundreds, possibly thousands, of comments on this website saying that the Trust has to change. The Keogh report has told the trust it has to change.

The trust starts to implement changes only to be told by people that this is wrong too. It may well be that the changes don't work but equally it may well be that the age old Cumbrian hatred of change that has held the county back is rearing it's head.

Change is inevitable, perhaps it is time to give it a chance rather than decide it's a bad thing before it's even happened.

Posted by utterly disillusioned on 20 March 2014 at 19:35

Of course there is no absolute proof or verification stated in these posts but if they are true:

1. Has the method of transferring Patient Data via a third party been fully risk assessed and approved by the Trust as an acceptable Information Governance process.

2. Is it really the case that Clnicians are losing Patient facing time due to none clinical related admin work. Whilst I accept that every role has some element of personal admin to be carried out, I find it difficult to see how Clinicians can eat into valuable assessment and treatment time when there should be an admin department to do the work. Surely, as a previous poster has pointed out, it is more expensive to emply more Clinicians to do admin work.

Perhaps a statement from the Trust to clarify what is happening and what is proposed may end some of the speculation. As always, there's probably an element of truth and myth in both points of view but I think the public should be made aware of the and the record set straight.

I would welcome a communications item from the trust to be made publicly available, outlining the resourcing balance between clinical and non patient time.

Posted by The Concerned One on 20 March 2014 at 16:52

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