20 nurses lose jobs as NHS beds close in North Staffordshire
AROUND 20 nurses are to be made redundant following cuts in mental health services.
They will lose their jobs with NHS Combined Healthcare as it closes 24 community beds in North Staffordshire.
Around 170 staff are being affected by the changes at the area's three mental health resource centres.
But union leaders and NHS watchdogs revealed some of them were being told by e-mail whether they were to be re-deployed on less wages.
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They say the stress has forced some nurses to burst into tears while trying to carry on caring for their patients.
Eight beds have now shut at the Ashcombe Centre, in Cheddleton, and Lymebrook, in Bradwell. Eight beds will also shut at the Bennett Centre, in Shelton, on December 1. Daycare services are remaining at Ashcombe and Lymebrook.
Weaver House elderly care day hospital, in Cheadle, will close on New Year's Eve.
The cuts – which are aimed at saving money and taking more services into patients' homes – were approved following a public consultation.
But Newcastle Borough Council Health Scrutiny Committee was this week told of the 'unbearable strain' placed on the nurses and other staff.
Committee member Hilda Johnson, who works for local mental health charity, the Users Group, said: "Some staff have been in tears so how are they supposed to be supporting service users?
"Management are letting some of them know by e-mail if they have a job and that is a disgusting way to treat people.
"How staff can face looking after people while they are under such stress themselves is beyond me and that is having an impact on patient care.
"We are not against these changes as such but it is the speed they are being carried out and more cuts are around the corner."
Scrutiny committee member David Loades added: "If we are not careful something will go terribly wrong."
Confirming the redundancy figure, Combined's head of communications Annie Roberts said: "We are supporting staff and minimising redundancies wherever possible through redeployment into different roles and working with other organisations to identify opportunities.
"All staff affected by the changes have had one-to-one meetings with their line manager and HR support."
Health union Unison's North Staffordshire spokesman Geoff Wilson said: "I know of two cases of staff being told by e-mail they are being down-graded when surely it should be face-to-face. It is becoming mayhem right across the NHS. "The fancy phrase is "more-for-less" but behind that I have never known as many members telling me they are suffering stress at work."