NURSING unions have lodged an official dispute with managers at the Countess of Chester Hospital over a restructuring programme.
The Royal College of Nursing and two other unions are concerned job cuts will endanger patient safety.
A consultation is currently taking place over the reorganisation which will see just two divisions of planned care and urgent care replacing the departments of medicine, surgery and women & children’s.
A total of 47 posts are affected, including 15 nursing posts, although the trust says most staff will be reassigned to other roles.
Colm Byrne, RCN officer for Chester and Wirral, said: “We are not happy with the assurances we have been given from the trust management about the risks to patient safety we think are involved in these new proposals.
“We have asked hem to take the proposals off the table and come back and discuss with us and extend the consultation period but they have refused to do that so we have lodged a formal dispute with them.”
Mr Byrne said this meant the hospital had a duty to investigate their concerns. If not satisfied, the union had the right to appeal through the courts or an employment tribunal.
He said the affected nursing staff had been referred to as having a ‘back-room role’ which they resented.
“If they have a back-room role there would be no need to have a nurse in post,” he added.
Martin Howard, human resources specialist services manager at the Countess, said: “The proposed re-organisation of the trust is currently still in the consultation phase so we are unable to make any further comment at this stage.”