Union submits formal grievance to mental health trust due to restructure ‘safety concerns’

But Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust rejects Unison's claims that services are 'unsafe'

A mental health trust has been urged to “immediately halt” a controversial overhaul of services after a union submitted a formal grievance to executives.

Unison officials said they had “grave safety concerns” about the ongoing implementation of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) service strategy, which will see the trust’s budget cut by 20% by 2016. Trust bosses said they “fully reject” any suggestion that services are unsafe.

Fears have been raised by campaigners that the shake-up is leading to unsafe staffing levels and unmanageable workloads. Yesterday, Unison officials said they had issued the formal grievance due to a failure of trust management to act on the concerns raised by staff.

Emma Corlett, media spokesperson for the trust’s Unison branch, said: “Our members have been raising escalating concerns over a number of months about the impact of the service reorganisation, which the NSFT board have consistently failed to address,”

“Things are now at such a critical point that immediate action needs to be taken to address current risks to the safety and quality of patient care. Why is that everyone can see the crisis we are in, apart from the people who are paid to take responsibility?

Andrew Hopkins, the trust’s acting chief executive, said Unison’s intervention came as a surprise as he felt the trust had “worked constructively” with the union over the past two years on the service strategy.

“We reject any suggestion that the services we provide are unsafe. We have recently been subject to a review on the risks to quality of our services by KPMG on behalf of Monitor and the Care Quality Commission has completed inspections of a number of our inpatient and community services. While some concerns have been highlighted, which the Trust is addressing, these reviews do not paint the picture that Unison is presenting,” said Hopkins.

“We will carefully consider the points that Unison has raised and will respond in due course.”

The development comes a week after Norfolk county council announced it would retake control of adult social care mental health services from NSFT in September this year due to a lack of improvement in the service over the last nine months.

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