EXCLUSIVE: Whistleblower says staff ‘stretched to the limit’ at Ninewells

Ninewells Hospital
Ninewells Hospital

Staff representatives have met with management at Ninewells Hospital over claims they are being “stretched to the limit”.

A whistleblower at the Dundee hospital told the Tele that bosses had “banned overtime” because they couldn’t afford to pay for it.

The source alleged that staff were growing increasingly concerned about the risk of infection within the building because some areas weren’t being cleaned to health board standards, due to the domestic assistants being 25 workers short.

He claimed that this meant nurses were having to clean using equipment and chemicals they didn’t have training for, and certain cleaning tasks weren’t being done as often as they should.

Members from Unite the Union and Unison have now met with hospital chiefs to discuss the issues raised by domestic assistants, porters and caterers.

A joint statement from both unions said: “Earlier this week senior representatives from Unite the Union and Unison made management of support services aware of their members ongoing concerns at work.

“These were predominately around staffing levels including absence cover and the impact on domestic, portering and catering staff who felt that they were stretched to the limit.

“A quickly convened meeting with senior representatives from NHS Tayside was held yesterday to highlight these concerns and a series of actions have been agreed.

“These include risk assessments in relation to staffing and any impact this could have, and a series of open meetings next week giving all staff in support services the opportunity to voice their views.

“The question of whether NHS Tayside had imposed a ban on overtime during this difficult time was raised and we were assured that this was not the case.

“We have also been assured that no overtime or additional hours will be withheld that has a direct impact on clinical care.

“As trade unions we take the concerns of our members very seriously and will work with management to ensure a supportive outcome for our members.”

Mark Scholes

When the claims were put to NHS Tayside, Mark Scholes — the head of support services — stopped short of denying there were staffing shortages.

But Mr Scholes insisted that he’d had no reports of nurses having to do cleaning themselves using equipment or chemicals they weren’t trained to use.

He also denied that overtime had been “banned”.

He said: “The public should be reassured that our dedicated domestic services team at Ninewells is committed to maintaining high levels of cleanliness throughout the hospital.

“As with all services, the support services team has plans in place to maintain service levels during holiday periods and to cover sickness absence.

“Additional shifts are offered in line with the needs of the service.”