Union fears ‘dangerous’ low staffing levels at Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust are harming patients

As reported in the Manchester Evening News last week a watchdog is “very concerned” about the safety of people using the services of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust.

A damning report said inspectors found there were not always enough nurses and that permanent staff did not feel safe if bank or agency workers were used as they didn’t have the relevant training.

It follows an unannounced inspection in September by the Care Quality Commission “due to on-going concerns about the safety of services”.

Now UNISON says it is concerned about “dangerous” staffing levels across the Trust’s sites in Prestwich, Trafford, Manchester, Wigan, and Bolton.

A Unison spokesperson said: “Our members have reported across the Trust that staffing levels are at dangerous levels and that this is impacting both upon patient care and staff well-being.

“Some of our members within the Early Intervention Service have recently voted for strike action over Trust re-organisation plans which would leave their service even more stretched.”

Unison North West regional organiser, Lyndsey Marchant, added: “Staffing levels are causing problems throughout the Trust. Recent reports about Prestwich Hospital were incredibly worrying, but UNISON is also concerned about issues within our community mental health services.

“Community mental health services do vital preventative work, which can often avoid young people from people admitted to facilities like Prestwich Hospital.

“Community mental health services are under-appreciated and under-resourced and we are particularly concerned about the impact of the Trust’s flawed proposals, which could stretch the overloaded Early Intervention Services to breaking point.

“Given the reported problems in other areas of the Trust, we call on Trust management to show they have fully heard frontline workers’ concerns about staffing. The best way to do this would be to propose a new offer that provides its hard-working staff with the resources they need to deliver excellent care.

“UNISON was deeply saddened to hear of the deaths of three young people at GMMH Prestwich Hospital in the last nine months. It’s a sad indictment of the decimation of the funding of our NHS that vulnerable young people cannot be protected.

“UNISON is aware of the staffing and retention issues at GMMH,. We know that front-line NHS workers are endeavouring to giving the level of support that young people need, whilst struggling against the tide of staff and finance reductions.

“More Mancunians than ever are struggling with their mental health, and UNISON call on those who fund the NHS to be aware of the real impact of funding cuts to mental health support, particularly for young people.

“The NHS is the most valuable resource we have. It needs to be funded properly to protect and support the people who need it the most.

“Our thoughts and solidarity go out to the families of the Ania, Charlie and Rowan.”

Commenting on the union’s concerns, Gill Green, Director of Nursing & Governance for Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “We can confirm there are no wards or units closed across the Trust due to staffing levels.

“Wards in our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Units continue to be safely staffed, with robust contingency plans in place to ensure continued care for young people on our units.”

The trust’s Nursing Director Ms Green, also said: “The inspection team found several positive aspects of care including how well staff managed risks and followed best practice, how they protected patients from abuse and knew how to report it, and ease of access to clinical information.

“We accept there are areas for improvement such as levels of qualified staff on wards, which many NHS trusts are struggling with, however we have strong contingency plans in place to ensure we remain safely staffed.

“We ensure that patient safety and learning is embedded across the Trust as well as at local level.

“An action plan to address these areas is in development and we will share our progress with the CQC. This inspection does not affect our overall rating, which remains ‘Good’.”

Full article here

Source: Manchester Evening News, 1st December 2021

Published by CHARM Greater Manchester

CHARM, the Community for Holistic, Accessible, Rights Based Mental Health was launched by The Organic Recovery Learning Community in September 2020.

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