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Suffolk: Claims patient care ‘will be compromised’ due to job cuts

PUBLISHED: 10:35 21 November 2012 | UPDATED: 10:17 22 November 2012

Nurse with patient

Nurse with patient

Archant

PRESSURE is mounting on a private firm to publicly consult on proposals – which it has been claimed could be a “risk to patients” – to axe community healthcare posts.

Concerned Serco employees have contacted the EADT angered by reports the axe looks set to fall on more than 30 community nurses, nine specialist and district nurses, 18 general health worker posts and eight physiotherapists.

The proposals come less than two months after the private firm took over the multi-million pound NHS contract.

Unison claimed such cuts would have a “massive impact” on health services in the county.

Tim Roberts, regional organiser, said: “These job losses will have massive impact on health services in Suffolk and we fear that patients will suffer.

“Patients are clearly going to have to wait longer to see a health professional and vulnerable people are not going to receive the same quality service that is available now.”

Staff were given details of the proposed changes on Friday last week.

Meanwhile Serco is also believed to be looking at more “intensive” rehabilitation care packages, which could shorten the length of some stays in community hospitals.

Such a move has been criticised by some employees, but the firm says longer packages would still be used where needed.

One worried member of staff has also questioned Serco’s claim that new technology will benefit patients.

Meanwhile, Marion Fairman-Smith, chair of patient group Suffolk LInk, called for a public consultation on the move.

She said: “We see this as dramatic change in patient care and according to the guidelines we believe there should be a public consultation on the matter.”

A Serco spokeswoman said: “This is a meaningful consultation being carried out with employees and their representatives. It has only recently started and we have been listening to staff and are making revised proposals based on that feedback.

“Since the tender process began a year ago, we have consulted with a wide range of stakeholders and partner organisations, including Clinical Commissioning Groups, health and social care providers and patient groups. We have listened to their opinions and used their feedback to help us test and develop the proposed model.

“We would like to reassure our patients and their families that it is our absolute intention to work more closely with care providers so that we can further improve end of life care for Suffolk’s patients.”

“‘The two situations [Suffolk and Cornwall] and contracts are different in nature and requirement and therefore it would be wrong to draw a comparison between the two.”

A spokeswoman for commissioner NHS Suffolk said: “The changes Serco is consulting with its staff on currently, are about how staff will work differently in future to deliver the full range of community services.”

She added: “Service levels are not being decreased, nor are services being reduced, but they do need to be delivered more efficiently and effectively.”

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