Health workers face redundancy as site closure is proposed
HEALTH workers face losing their jobs following advance notice of redundancies at NHS Direct in Comet country. The proposal is to close NHS Direct s online enquiry service, based on Meadway Technology Park, Rutherford Close in Stevenage, and transfer work
HEALTH workers face losing their jobs following advance notice of redundancies at NHS Direct in Comet country.
The proposal is to close NHS Direct's online enquiry service, based on Meadway Technology Park, Rutherford Close in Stevenage, and transfer work undertaken there to five other sites across the country.
The move will mean all staff at the Stevenage site will be affected, with 21 redundancies - 19 clerical, one professional and one managerial - on the cards.
Any redundancies are expected to be issued during late July and consultation with staff, UNISON and elected representatives of the employees has begun.
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But UNISON is threatening to take out formal grievance procedures on the grounds that NHS Direct has failed to follow policy on staff consultation.
The union claims NHS Direct has breached policy for reasons which include failing to consult with UNISON's collective committee that there were plans to issue advance notice of redundancies.
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Louise O'Hanlon, on behalf of the committee, said in a letter to Tim Woodhouse, NHS Direct's regional head of human resources: "We would like to express out disappointment at the lack of respect you have shown to the collective consultation committee.
"By breaching the consultation process, it is our right to call for this process to be postponed and for a date to be set to re-start the process from the beginning.
"At the very least we are considering taking out formal grievance procedures against you on the grounds of failure to follow policy on staff consultation."
Roger Rawlinson, NHS Direct's director of human resources, said: "NHS Direct is committed to the consultation process, ensuring transparency and openness with staff throughout.
"We strongly refute any suggestion that we have failed in our obligation to consult with staff and trade unions."
He said NHS Direct is working closely with staff and has shared consultation documents with them.
He also said one-to-one meetings with staff have begun, to understand individual circumstances and to feed this information into discussions with trade unions.
Mr Rawlinson said the proposal is to close the Stevenage site and integrate the online enquiry service with NHS Direct's broader health information service, as "a more resilient and cost effective solution."
He added: "If the proposal is accepted, we would, wherever possible, offer staff alternative employment at nearby NHS Direct sites and redundancies would only take effect as a last resort."
The consultation is due to finish on June 26.