Plans to close community hospitals in Exeter, Honiton, Okehampton and Seaton have today come under fire from public service union UNISON over the Northern, Eastern, and Western (NEW) Devon clinical commissioning group’s (CCG) failure to consult staff.
Concerns over the lack of engagement with staff were raised by the union in October 2016, but since then no collective consultation with staff has been carried out, and CCG bosses made no reference to a “workforce” response in subsequent presentations.
NHS services across Devon are facing a budget gap of £572 million by 2020 and a large scale transformation project is underway, reviewing services including stroke, maternity and urgent care provision.
UNISON are calling on the CCG to tighten up on engaging not only the impacted staff but also the wider workforce who will see their jobs changing as a result of new plans.
UNISON South West organiser Oliver Foster-Burnell said:
“If health bosses in Devon want their plans to restructure health services to work out, they must listen to the people actually delivering care. Instead, many employees across the four hospitals only found out about the closures when they saw it in the news.
“By leaving staff out of the picture, the CCG is disengaging the very people they seek to influence. There’s a pattern of poor communications at all levels that needs to change before the process goes any further. Staff who are going to be redeployed as a result of these changes deserve a chance to make their views heard as a group and work out fair processes with management.
“Community hospitals are a well-used service and like hospitals across the country, are at capacity. Moving to more care in the community may be a sensible long-term goal, but very careful planning is needed to make sure patients get good continuity of care.”