NHS Tayside staff have been warned they are likely to undertake new duties to support the health service during the coronavirus crisis.
Documents circulated internally state that staff will be expected to undertake duties outside of their normal “core” work across the Tayside region.
The health board is creating a specialist team that will handle the redeployment of staff from areas where care has been stepped down, such as routine outpatient appointments.
Shift patterns are also being changed, potentially giving part-time staff more hours and some on-call bank staff being given temporary contracts for part or full-time work.
Tayside has also suspended cancer screenings to free up staff for the treatment of Covid-19 patients – a move which has attracted concern from survivors of the disease.
“This might mean working in unfamiliar surroundings or clinical areas outside their usual practice – this can be challenging but we know that many staff are willing to rise to the challenge.”
However, the union chief has also called on NHS Tayside to ensure that all staff are properly trained in how to work in unfamiliar disciplines and environments.
Bob McGlashan, Tayside organiser for the Royal College of Nursing, says staff are ready to step up and play their part in helping the NHS to cope.
He said: “Many health and care workers will be temporarily redeployed away from their normal working environment during the pandemic.
“In these situations, employers must complete a thorough risk assessment and staff must be confident about their competence level to work in a new environment,” he continued.
“It is a high pressure situation currently, but any staff asked to move should also be given a relevant health and safety induction in the new environment and access to relevant policies and procedures.
“Staff who have concerns about redeployment should have a discussion with their manager in the first instance. They can also contact their union.
“The RCN has advice on our website and the Nursing & Midwifery Council has also published advice.”
NHS Tayside says staff will be trained where required during the pandemic.
In addition, it is ramping up efforts to recruit both clinical staff – nurses, midwives and health professionals – and non-clinical roles such as cleaners, porters, drivers and administrative staff.
The health board said: “The Staff Deployment Centre is collating information from across services about what staff will be required to keep our core services running through this difficult period and to identify gaps and shortages.
“Due to this emerging picture, it is likely that (staff) may be asked to undertake duties which are not part of (their) normal ‘core’ work.
“Additional training, support and induction will be provided.”
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