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NHS nurses fighting new shift plans in Sussex
Hundreds of mental health nurses across Sussex are facing longer shifts and less pay as NHS bosses battle to save money.
Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is considering changing shift patterns which could mean some staff missing out on unsociable hours pay rates.
It could mean some workers, based in hospital inpatient and residential units around the county, potentially losing up to £500 a year.
W o r k e r s believe the change from a shift of around eight hours to one of around 12 could also impact on patient care and make childcare arrangements more difficult.
The changes, which could save up to £1.5 million a year, are part of wider moves by the trust to save more than £13 million this year while still maintaining and improving its frontline services. The trust runs mental health, substance misuse and learning disabilities services across the county.
Workers contacted The Argus to highlight their concerns. One said: “I have extremely complicated childcare arrangements. This shift system will make it impossible for me to work.”
Another said: “Inpatient mental health nursing can be very demanding, emotionally, and we are very concerned that we will be exhausted at the end of such a long shift.”
Nurses in general hospitals already work 12-hour shifts on a lot of wards but the mental health nurses say their circumstances are different.
One told The Argus: “You are not comparing like with like.
“In mental health nursing, you can have an acute incident at any time of the day or night.
“I am not convinced that I would be able to respond appropriately after, say, 10 hours.”
A Sussex P a r t n e r s h i p s p o k e s m a n said: “One of the options we are considering is the proposal to change the nursing shift pattern. Our nurses and all of our staff do a great job and we take their views seriously.”
He added: “No decision has yet been taken.”
A spokesman for Unison said: “We are about to commence discussions with the trust concerning the response that the unions made to the proposals.