HOSPITAL chiefs have launched a consultation this week to change shift patterns for nurses across Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
The plan would see all nursing and midwifery staff on inpatient and accident and emergency departments across the trust switching to an 11.5-hour shift and a one-hour break.
Kate Harper, the trust’s director of quality, said the proposal would not see a reduction in staff or cause staff to lose hours, and added the announcement had been welcomed by ward sisters on Monday.
She said: “For some wards this will really have very little impact because they are already doing this, for others it will mean little changes, it might mean getting an extra break, or reducing their working day by an hour in some cases.
“At the moment we have a variety of shift patterns, doing this allows us to bring in a more efficient shift pattern and minimise the number of patient handovers, and put more nurses on wards.
“It will allow us to reinvest resource back into wards. We are just doing some analysis of workload and when the results of that are in, we will be able to determine which wards need some additional resource, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to increase staffing in some areas.”
There will be a 30-day consultation with nursing staff, but it is hoped the introduction of the new shift pattern will also reduce the need for agency staff.
However, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said it has a number of concerns about the plans.
Glenn Turp, regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “It is true that RCN research indicates that longer shifts tend to be popular among some of our members but one size doesn’t fit all and this approach does not take account of the fact that many staff will have caring responsibilities or may have medical or other reasons why working for 12 hours is just out of the question.
“We are also concerned that there could be periods in the day when all the staff on a ward are reaching the end of their working day and this could lead to some serious patient safety issues.”
At the moment around 40 per cent of nursing staff at Mid Yorkshire work shorter shifts.
He added: “We are very concerned that the trust has launched this 30-day consultation on such an important issue just before the Christmas period when many staff will either be on annual leave or working and coping with the extra pressures that the winter period brings to hospital staff.
“This will not give them enough time to consider the implications of the proposals.
“Our concern is always for the wellbeing of our members and their patients and changes like these cannot just be rushed through without proper consideration.”
The RCN will be meeting with the trust and consulting members.