Unison Members React to Swansea NHS Cuts
19th September 2007Alec Thraves spoke to a nurse, also a member of UNISON, at Swansea's Morriston hospital
The recent belated announcement by Swansea NHS trust that they intend axing 750 nursing and health care hospital posts and 86 beds over the next three years has caused an angry reaction amongst nurses and hospital staff.
In Morriston hospital (part of Swansea NHS trust) staff discovered about the trust's plans via the grapevine from other staff and not officially from management. When the trust eventually came clean staff in Morriston hospital were told they would have to apply for their own jobs. There was no consultation with staff or their unions. Staff were already demoralised, angry and frustrated due to staff shortages. There was no warning about the trust's efficiencies (read cut backs) on one ward staff only found out that the ward was now only open for five days a week and closed on weekends when they turned up for their shift!
The Trust peddle the usual line that these efficiencies will not affect patient care. Tell that to the people stuck on a trolley in A+E or who are in an ambulance queue waiting to get into A+E because A+E and the other wards have no beds. Staff understand perfectly well this is not about efficiencies but about the Trust balancing its books at the expense of patient care and staff's working conditions.
In 2006 the Trust attempted to cut hospital services by claiming that people would be cared for in the community (heard that one before) the Trust was absolutely slated in the public meetings it held. Socialist party members health care workers and the public saw the Trust's proposals for what they were an attempt to cut services in order to eradicate a 12m debt. This time the Trust has not bothered to consult the public, staff or their unions. This time there's no talk of community care now its beds are not needed because people spend less time in hospital. Ask nursing staff and they will tell you that the demands for inpatient care has not reduced.
After discovering the Trust's cunning plan Unison members at Morriston hospital demanded that Unison call a meeting urgently to oppose the trust's plans. Many nurses and health care workers were so angry they were prepared to stage a walk out there and then. Unison has agreed to ballot staff about taking industrial action. Unfortunately Unison opposition to these severe attacks on services is not matched by the RCN who were on record in the local newspaper as supporting the Trust's proposals. The RCN is totally out of touch with the mood of it's members who are dismayed by the stance of the RCN. These cuts should be opposed by all trade unions. Unison needs to give a lead and turn it's members anger into action. Staff want to stop these cuts and if they are forced to take industrial action to defend NHS services and their working conditions they will receive the full support of the socialist party, the local community and many other trade unionists.