Tayside nurses claim ‘deeply unpopular’ new shifts are bad for patient care

Hard-worked nurses in Tayside claim they are being forced to do “deeply unpopular” new shifts that could negatively impact patient care.

Among their concerns are fears that the shifts, which began last week, will leave nurses exhausted, meaning their ability to care for patients could be compromised.

There are also worries that nurses will have to fork out more money for taxis for commuting, walk to and from work in the dark, and end up with only 10 hours in between shifts.

Others with children are worried they will struggle with child care, and the car park, which is already busy, could become chaos as there will be more overlap in staff starting and finishing work at the same time.

One nurse who works at Ninewells said the new shifts were “deeply unpopular”.

The new shift times are 7am- 3pm, 1.30pm-9.30pm and nightshift 9pm-7.30am. The original shift times were 7.30am-3.30pm, 12pm-8pm and nightshift 7.30pm-7.30am.

She said: “The changes may seem slight, but there are reasons why the staff are upset.

“The most unpopular part is the change of late shift.

“Finishing later and starting at 7am means less time between shifts and it is tiring.

“There will be 10 hours between late and early and I think that’s the worst part of it for most people.

“Getting home at 10.15pm to 10.30pm, having time to wind down then having to be up again at 5.30am is so tiring, especially if you’re on for seven shifts. Quality of care may not be as good if nurses are tired — also, it is bound to affect nurses’ health.

“NHS Tayside argues that these shift patterns are best for staff, as they shouldn’t be working more than 10 hours.

“By standardising the shifts they will save money on bank and agency staff, as it’s easier to move staff around to cover shortages if all staff are on the same shifts.

George Doherty, NHS Tayside director of human resources and organisational development, said: “The aim of this change is to reduce variance and improve the quality and continuity of care for our patients, as well as improving the wellbeing of staff.

“This change is not financially driven, but aims to release staff time back into their own ward areas, which will reduce reliance on supplementary staff.

“Following our engagement and consultation with our nursing and midwifery staff and our trade unions, a decision was made to introduce new standardised shift lengths.

“The shift durations consist of early and late eight-hour shifts, and a 10.5-hour nightshift.

“While we recognise that for some staff this may mean some adjustments to their current way of working, the specific start and finish times are agreed at ward level taking into account service requirement and staff views. Additionally, one-to-one discussions are taking place with any member of staff who may wish to raise individual concerns.”

RCN senior officer Bob McGlashan said: “We’re offering one to one support to members in relation to these changes.”