DGH nurse: Why morale is so low over regradings

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HARD-WORKING nurses claim morale at the DGH has hit rock bottom after being told they would be interviewed for their own jobs and could be forced to take a pay cut.

A source close to staff in the day surgery and theatre departments contacted the Herald to lift the lid on growing dissent with the way staff are being treated by the hierarchy at East Sussex Healthcare Trust, which runs the DGH.

And they revealed that band six nurses in both areas have been warned they may be dropped to a band five pay rate if they fail to perform in the forthcoming interviews – leading to accusations that the trust does not value its staff.

Any nurse who is hit with a slide down the pay scale, but who has worked for the NHS for more than a decade, will see their pay protected for three years.

But that will come as scant consolation to nurses who, our source argues, have been working hard to make sure patients receive the best possible care while the trust tries to earmark £30million in cost cuttings.

The whistle-blower, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitive situation, said, “A lot of the nurses could not believe it.

“On the same day as Jane Hentley (chief nurse East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust) was quoted in the Herald praising staff, nurses in theatre and day surgery were told they would have to be interviewed for their own jobs.

“They were gobsmacked by the comments.

“And if they do not get it they face being put down a band.

“It is hardly a supportive approach to staff. Some of these people have been working for the DGH for years.

“The fear is that won’t count for anything if they perform badly in an interview.

“The management may well think that nurses will keep doing the same amount of work but for less money but why should they?

“It is going to cause problems. Morale is at rock bottom.”

A spokesman for the trust said, “Informal meetings have been held to advise theatre staff that a formal 30 day consultation will be launched with effect from December 1 and will close on January 4.

“The proposal will not impact on the total number of staff employed within the area but is a skill mix review of the number of staff at different grades.

“We therefore do not expect that this will result in staff redundancies as a result of this re-structure.

“The proposals have been benchmarked against similar acute health providers.

“During the consultation period staff will be able to comment on the proposals including the impact on the service and members of staff.

“The relevant staff representatives have and will continue to be involved in the process.”

“We are writing to all affected staff and will be holding formal staff briefing sessions on Thursday and Friday.”

There 35 grade six staff in theatre and a further 18 in the day surgery who are likely to be affected.