Nurses praised for standing together and halting shift changes

Trust pledges to work with staff after backlash to make service better for themselves and patients.

The RCN has welcomed a trust’s decision to abandon proposed changes to nursing shifts after a backlash from staff.

The plan by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would have seen nurses working an extra shift every four weeks to ‘ensure patient safety, staff health and wellbeing, and to ensure our rosters are efficient and fair’.

The trust originally planned to implement the changes in January, but following a negative reaction from staff decided to postpone until next month to conduct a full internal consultation.

The results – and a petition signed online by 4,500 people – led to it deciding to abandon the plan altogether.

Unions, including RCN, conducted their own surveys at the same time as they responded to members claims that the changes were ‘unworkable and unfair’.

Speaking after the decision RCN representative Roaqah Shaher said: ‘Everyone is so relieved, the atmosphere at work this weekend was uplifted and there were smiles everywhere.

‘This was only possible because we all stood together to oppose something that was recognised by the management as being ultimately unfair on hard-working staff.’

She added that counterproposals were being drawn up by the unions and would be discussed with managers to ‘resolve the long-standing issues of health funding shortages in a way that is both safe for patients and staff’.

The trust’s director of nursing Gill Hunt confirmed it would work with staff. ‘We remain committed to the principles which underpin the proposed shift pattern changes,' she said.

‘We are concerned about claims made regarding patient safety as one of our main drivers is to have more nurses on the wards and ensure staff have adequate rest breaks during their working day.’