Staff force halt to mental health service upheaval

Published: September 29, 2011

NHS bosses have ordered a shock halt to a massive overhaul of the mental health service which would have seen hundreds of staff having to reapply for their jobs and switch to downgraded salaries.

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust told thousands of staff on Monday afternoon that the decision was taken after “careful thought” and with “immediate effect”.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and trade union Unison had strongly criticised the trust’s plan to downgrade the pay of expert staff, paving the way for less-qualified replacements.

An internal memo from director Colin Plant reveals that the move follows concerns about the “clinical implications of the proposed workforce changes” and the use of “non-professionally registered staff”.

He added: “In addition to staff comments, elected staff representatives from RCN and Unison have requested a halt to enable the trust to give consideration to some particular points.”

Camden Unison secretary George Binette said his members had warned that the changes would be “substantial and highly disruptive”.

The Improving Community Services Staff consultation was due to finish in November as part of a £20million programme of efficiencies triggered by government cuts. NHS staff at day centres such as Netherwood in West Hampstead – which campaigners fought to save from closure earlier this year – were informed their jobs would be axed.

They have told the New Journal they are also concerned about a move by Camden Council to bring people with severe schizophrenia, learning difficulties and dementia together under one roof in a new super-care centre in Kentish Town.

Mr Binette said: “This would create a situation where people are thrown in together against their own will. The personal attention of very vulnerable people would be diminished.”


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