Nursing union confronts hospital over job cuts

PUBLISHED: 07:25 06 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:34 24 May 2010

A LEGAL battle is about to be launched as union officials take a stand against Weston General Hospital cuts. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is to lodge a legal challenge to the hospital's current programme of bed losses and staff cuts that has caused

A LEGAL battle is about to be launched as union officials take a stand against Weston General Hospital cuts.The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is to lodge a legal challenge to the hospital's current programme of bed losses and staff cuts that has caused turmoil among nursing staff.If successful, the hospital could find itself vulnerable to employment tribunals, be landed with fines or even have to reverse the changes it has made, the union says.RCN assistant regional officer Steve Nicholson said the union was due 30 days consultation about the cost-cutting changes, but got none.He said: "There could be a whole raft of tribunals because people could have had their jobs changed illegally."The hospital could also have a huge financial penalty put on it because it hasn't met the legal requirements of changing people's contracts."It's always possible it might have to return the situation to the position it was in before the changes started."I don't know why the hospital didn't consult us, but I think it was hoping to push things through quickly. It may be it didn't know the legal requirements, but I find that hard to believe."The hospital has to send a letter to the Department for Employment and Learning saying it intends to make changes and giving a reason, for example the hospital's financial situation. That is then the start of the consultation period."Even if it sent the letter there's been no consultation period. It needed to have met with staff to say their jobs may have been at risk and it didn't."A hospital spokesman said: "We are very disappointed that the RCN has not been in touch with the trust to discuss these concerns."We do not believe that our action has been in breach of statutory regulations. "Employment tribunals sometimes follow where there have been redundancies and we are pleased to have been able to avoid these and acknowledge the support of our staffside representatives in helping us to redeploy all affected nurses."In view of these excellent working relationships, we are surprised by this move on the part of the RCN.

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