Last-ditch bid to scrap nurse rota changes

Plaid move motion in Senedd to back nursing staff

Plaid Cymru has tabled a motion to the Senedd in a last-ditch bid to scrap controversial changes to nurse rotas in north Wales.

Betsi Cadwaladr health board has decided to press ahead with changes to rotas that will mean nurses, midwives and Health Care Support Workers having to work an extra shift per month for no extra pay.

The change, which extends existing shifts by a half hour, has been opposed by thousands who have signed petitions, the Royal College of Nursing and Unite the Union as well as Plaid Cymru.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said: “Nurses are getting in touch on a daily basis to stress how bad this new plan will be. Many fear it will be the final nail in the NHS in the North and I have to say I agree. The NHS is reliant on staff goodwill and this is a huge abuse of that goodwill to save – by the health board’s own admission – £25,000 a month. That’s just 2% of the £1.1 million it currently pays out to nursing agencies to provide staff.

“What this will do is persuade more nurses, many of whom are nearing retirement age, to switch to agency or bank nursing. That will cost even more for the health board but senior management isn’t listening.

“We’ve now got to the stage where nurses are talking of strike action to protect their working conditions –  for dedicated health professionals to go down that route shows the level of desperation and anger.

“I want to nip this in the bud before the changes come into force in January. I’ve tabled a motion to be debated tomorrow [Wednesday] calling on the Welsh Government to scrap these changes. It’s within the remit of the health minister because Betsi Cadwaladr health board has been under direct Welsh Government control for more than four years. Being in special measures should not mean more and more expensive management consultants and longer shifts for nurses. This motion is an opportunity for this Labour government to decide whether it stands with the nurses and other health professionals or whether it’s backing bosses.

“If they back the bosses, then I challenge Vaughan Gething to work a shift alongside these nurses and midwives to see the reality on the frontline. Let’s see what he thinks of working a 12 and a half-hour shift without a proper break because they’re already overstretched and understaffed. Then he can explain why an extra half hour unpaid on the shift is necessary.

“Nurses have had enough of warm words and praise. They want better working conditions and deserve much better. I hope Labour AMs will listen to nursing unions and frontline staff and vote to scrap these rota changes for the good of the NHS in north Wales.”

Comments from nurses:

“This has been a horrendous abuse of our good will. Clearly the plans have been made by administrators who have NEVER worked on the front line in the NHS. I therefore throw down the gauntlet and before they go ahead with their ludicrous plans that they come and work for a week in one of the maternity units within BCUHB.”                                      

“A policy of creating a 12-week roster for me seems quite unachievable, the maintenance of a roster of this size would mean a large increase in workload for myself potentially affecting my ability to manage and achieve the standards currently met in my department. I work in a maternity unit, leaving a woman in labour or in the immediate time after birth is just not safe, it also would have a significant impact on our ability to achieve one to one care in labour not to mention the impact on patient satisfaction. I have not met a single member of NHS staff that think this project is a good idea, i have worked in the NHS for 17 years and this is possibly the worst idea I have heard for saving money.”

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