Controversial changes to nursing rotas would only save 2% of monthly agency nursing bills, health board admits

North Wales Plaid Cymru AM says: ‘Scrap nurse rota changes’

Controversial and unpopular changes to nurses’ rotas would only save 2% of a health board’s £1,120,000 monthly agency nursing bills, it has been revealed.

Betsi Cadwaladr health board, which currently has a deficit of £42m and has recently admitted it is struggling to meet its financial targets, has revealed the expected cost of proposed changes to nursing rotas in a Freedom of Information response to Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd.

Mr Gruffydd said: “The savings that the health board hopes to make with these hugely unpopular changes to nursing rotas are tiny when put into context. In return for destroying staff morale and goodwill among hard-pressed nurses and Health Care Support Workers, the health board expects to save just £25,000 a month. This is just 2% of the monthly agency nursing bill of £1,120,000.

“We first learned about these proposals, which are out to consultation until September 17th, when nurses approached us to express their concerns about the implications. Nurses were expected to be on duty for an extra half and hour for no extra pay by taking longer breaks on their shift.

“It’s a cynical move by a health board that appears to be so remote from the frontline staff that it doesn’t realise how many of them already work through their breaks. Our NHS locally relies on the goodwill of 4,095 nurses and Health Care Support Workers and this proposal will destroy that goodwill.

“I doubt that the ‘savings’ envisaged in this proposal will materialise because we’ve heard from so many nurses that they will not work their breaks any more, that they will reduce their hours or take annual leave. Nurses are being placed in an impossible position by senior management, who are making a difficult situation worse with these plans.

“In the past month more than 3,200 people have signed Plaid Cymru’s online petition opposing these proposals. A further 2,400 have signed Unite the Union’s petition as well. The feedback we’ve had from the petition has been overwhelming with experienced skilled nurses saying this will be the death knell of the health board. Betsi’s senior management must reconsider its plans and scrap the proposals.

“I would also urge the Labour health minister Vaughan Gething to intervene – Betsi Cadwaladr is under his direct control and has been in special measures for four years now. He needs to understand that the pitiful amount of savings achieved under this proposal will be outweighed by the additional costs of paying agencies to cover nurses who retire, reduce their hours or who actually take their breaks rather than being on call on their wards or units.”

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