Patients needing psychological and mental health support in Coventry and Warwickshire face a ‘postcode lottery’ with a much reduced service, Unite, the country’s largest union, has warned.
Unite is concerned at the way Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Partnership Trust intends to ‘remodel’ services which will be detrimental to the 850,000 people covered by the trust.
Unite believes that the changes could result in 20 fewer staff in the community mental health team, with the downgrading of up to half of the remaining staff.
The union says that management wants to introduce these changes on 1 April this year.
Unite regional officer Frank Keogh said “Currently the proposals will see a cut to both experienced nursing and psychology staff, who would be replaced by less experienced staff. These healthcare professionals care for some of the most vulnerable members of society.
“In the case of psychology staff, they will be replaced by staff with a basic training in psychological therapy, rather than by fully trained psychologists.
“Unite members are concerned that this may lead to patients with complex needs not getting the level of support they need. We call on the trust’s management to reconsider its plans, and also to consult the community and interested stakeholders more widely.”
Against a background of cuts generated by the so-called Nicholson challenge of £20 billion ‘efficiency savings’ in the NHS, Unite members have witnessed cuts in services due to staff not being replaced when they have left. The current proposals would result in a significant de-skilling of clinicians.
Unite is also concerned that this model has not been implemented elsewhere. No ‘pilot’ studies have been carried out, so there is no evidence whether it would be effective.
Frank Keogh added: “It is difficult for our members to understand why, at a time when there are government initiatives to increase psychological therapies, the trust is seeking to reduce the number of experienced and skilled staff that it currently employs.
“The restructuring will have a longer term adverse impact on the recruitment and retention of key clinical staff. There will be only limited posts for experienced clinicians which could mean that staff leaving the trust to advance their careers, and, thereby, perpetuating a skills gap in Coventry and Warwickshire.
“This will disadvantage the 850,000 population and good mental health care will become a postcode lottery.”
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Notes to editors
• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.