Health bosses have said they are “very disappointed” with a decision by the Unite Union to pass a vote of no confidence in United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust.
The union passed the vote following concerns over patient safety at the trust which runs hospitals in the county.
Bosses at the union said ULHT appeared to be “more worried about the socks staff wore” than the understaffing of wards.
Now, they have called on regulator NHS Improvement and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to inspect the trust again.
In a letter to ULHT chair Elaine Baylis, the union said there was an “irretrievable breakdown” in partnership working and that the staff side committee had no confidence in the board.
Meanwhile, Unite regional officer Steve Syson said management at the trust is “chaotic”.
He said: “We have a chaotic management at this trust which is running an estimated deficit of £80 million a year.
“But, at the same time, the bosses can find £700,000 to spend on three management roles and engage consultants KPMG for advice on the financial situation, even when the trust is in financial special measures.
“How many badly-needed NHS frontline staff dealing with direct patient care would this princely sum have paid for?
“Instead of tackling the vital issues, such as understaffing in the wards at the hospitals and excessive use of agency staff identified in the CQC report, we have a petty HR regime, masterminded by the HR department, that seems more concerned about the colour of socks employees wear than dealing with staff grievances and concerns raised in relation to patient safety and frontline staff shortages.
“The staff side unions have passed a motion of ‘no confidence’ in the trust’s board, as we fear patient safety could be jeopardised.
“NHS Improvement and the Care Quality Commission have already inspected the trust’s services in April this year finding four key areas of care at the trust requiring improvement, but we feel that a second visit by these two organisations needs to happen for a more in-depth probe into the conduct of the trust.”
But, Martin Rayson, director of human resources and organisational development at ULHT, said the trust was disappointed in the action that the union had taken.
“Providing top quality patient care is always our number one priority,” he said.
“As everyone will know, the trust has made significant improvements over recent years going from an ‘inadequate’ Care Quality Commission rating to ‘requires improvement’, and we believe we are now on track to come out of special measures.
“Modernising our services and making improvements to the quality of our care, as well as tackling our deficit, means that the trust’s historic ways of working are changing for the benefit of our patients and their families.
“We appreciate that these changes can impact on our staff side colleagues and may be causing additional pressures, and so have been working closely with our staff and their representatives to ensure that any necessary improvements are managed properly.
“We are very disappointed that Unite has decided to take this approach, especially as we recently held a facilitated workshop to resolve any issues of partnership working, where the trust reiterated our commitment to working together in the interests of patients and staff.
“Unfortunately we have not been given the opportunity to respond to any of the union’s latest concerns but are happy to sit down with them to find a resolution.”
Samantha Millbank, accountable officer for Lincolnshire East CCG, said commissioners support the senior management at the trust.
“Lincolnshire East CCG, as lead commissioner for services provided by ULHT across Lincolnshire, is aware of the many challenges that are facing the trust,” she said.
“We continue to support the management of the Trust as they work to address these issues.”
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