A controversial plan to change nurses rotas has been scrapped by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).
The changes were aimed at standardising shift patterns, handover durations and breaks, as well as introducing a consistent system across the Health Board for the first time, which the Health Board claimed would reduce reliance on agency nursing staff and deliver £527,000 of savings.
Nurses, healthcare support workers and operating department practitioners, would have been affected by the changes which were due to be implemented in January 2020.
The rota changes would have forced staff to take an hour unpaid break if they were working a 12.5-hour shift and a half an hour unpaid break if they are working a six- or eight-hour shift, which would have resulted in them having to work extra shifts to meet their contracted hours as a result of the unpaid breaks.
Union groups and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) had branded the changes as “unacceptable” planned a demonstration 7 November, which has now been cancelled. Over 4,500 people had signed an online petition against the “deeply unpopular” changes.
BCUHB chief executive Gary Doherty said the board was “committed” to finding a way forward with nursing groups.
He added: “While we focus on our partnership working and how to move forward together, we will not progress the proposed changes.”
Reacting to the news today, Peter Hughes, Unite Wales regional secretary, commented: “The decision by Betsi Cadwaladr not to progress with the changes to staff rosters is a victory for our campaign and will come as a huge relief to the thousands of nurses and health professionals who would have been affected.
“We welcome the fact that Betsi Cadwaladr has listened to our concerns and decided to think again. We also welcome the commitment to work constructively alongside all trade unions representing BCUHB staff.
“We expect future consultations with us to be far more meaningful than has been the case over this divisive issue. What we certainly will not accept is any further attempt to bring forward changes to staff rosters under another guise.
“This is now an opportunity for Betsi Cadwaladr to put this issue behind it and to encourage a positive climate of industrial relations that can help rebuild the confidence of staff and the general public. It is in the interests of all stakeholders, most importantly the patients, that Betsi Cadwaladr can rely on a workforce that feels truly valued and listened to.”