BARNET and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust has issued staff with a ‘consultation paper regarding administration review, emergency and planned care’, notifying them of mass sackings ahead.
This is the first shot in the battle to downsize Chase Farm Hospital to a shell of what it is now, getting rid of its 24-hour A&E, consultant-led Maternity and Paediatric units.
The paper says there is a ‘case for change based on the need to streamline services in preparation for the BEH Clinical Strategy implementation (i.e. the Chase Farm closure plan)’.
The bottom line of the trust’s proposals is to cut staff numbers from 588.3 whole time equivalent to 380 whole time equivalent.
The trust proposes to ‘maximise value for money and make a significant contribution to cost savings’.
It wants to ‘streamline or eliminate manual processes where there are automated alternatives’ and ‘standardise where possible to enable staff to work flexibly and be more productive’.
The document states: ‘A number of fundamental changes will be taking place including:
• ‘Centralising and automating reception, and follow-up bookings.
• Streamlining admission and theatre booking services.
• ‘Speeding up and automating the production of clinical letters.’
Among the main proposals summarised are plans for ‘automated clinic self-check-in’ by patients, and a ‘fully automated transcription service’.
The trust plans a ‘reduction in reception staff requirement’ and ‘a reduction in typing requirement’.
The document stresses that ‘the medical records function will remain a library only service’.
It adds: ‘Reception and ward support arrangements will change significantly.’
It claims: ‘The introduction of automated check-in will increase the speed of checking in for patients, and enable the full centralisation of reception and clinic outcome handling.’
It warns: ‘The Central Appointments and Waiting List Offices will be integrated to provide one point of contact for patients, clinicians and GPs.’
To boost efficiency and productivity and reduce staff: ‘All staff will need to be proficient in both out-patient and in-patient booking.’
The trust states its ‘intention to centralise or automate functions and tasks’ and that ‘there will be at least seven Clinical Office Teams, formed of clusters (or groups) of specialities’.
The document goes on to state that a productivity and flexibility drive is to be all-embracing and compulsory, so that: ‘The majority of staff will be expected to rotate between areas to gain knowledge and ensure that the organisation has robust cover.
‘All staff will be expected to work together as a team, and to cross cover for planned and unplanned absence.’
It notes: ‘The Access Manager will be responsible for the management and achievement of both local and national targets and data quality issues for all services managed within the proposed structure.’
There is also to be privatisation of services. The document states: ‘To free up staff time, the transcribing of correspondence will be outsourced to an external provider.’
It adds that the technical systems available to produce letters ‘can be automated, cutting both the input and elapsed time required to generate a letter and link it to the appropriate clinical record’.
It claims that ‘by reducing the turnaround time to a maximum of 24 hours, the need to retain large batches of patient records in the office is reduced’.
The document warns already hard-pressed staff: ‘As part of the change the trust will establish a range of quality Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with challenging standards’ in answering calls, appointment bookings, typing turn around, producing care notes.
With staff being forced to re-apply for the 380 jobs left out of 588, armies of counsellors will be standing by to deal with ‘stress’ and ‘handling conflict’ – ie, the traumas that the regime of mass sackings, ultra-flexibility that this industrial approach to healthcare will produce.
The document offers to ‘support staff through organisational change’, while admitting to the ‘pressures of working in leaner and more efficient services’.
It cynically offers ‘assistance with (job) applications, interview skills, opportunity for mock interviews, presentation skills, support to develop IT skills at basic and intermediate levels.’
The trust document announces ‘support from the Employees Assistance Programme (EAP)’ as the sackings are implemented.
It says the EAP provides ‘information and resources’ to help with ‘managing finances, legal matters, managing stress and handling conflict’.
It adds that there will be ‘24-hour access to telephone counselling’ to help staff ‘explore your options’.
There will be ‘fact sheets dealing with a number of issues – coping with stress, preparing for an interview, coping with change and financial concerns’.
This document will rightly enrage staff who will be demanding their unions take action.
The daily picket of the Enfield hospital organised by the North East London Council of Action is calling for staff and local residents to take part in tomorrow’s Council of Action meeting to discuss this critical situation.
The meeting is at St Michael’s Church Hall, Chaseside, Enfield at 7.30pm, Tuesday 20 November.