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Ridiculous NHS

41 replies

Jimjams · 03/02/2004 13:51

Written about this elsewhere but I am in an ongoing battle with our local NHS trust as they are not covering maternity leave when the specialist autism speech therapist goes on maternity leave. This means that autistic school age children will be left without a speech and language therapist for up to a year (assuming she comes back of course).

Anyway receieved a letter from the acting head of SALT today including this line

"We are unfortunately not funded to enable us to recruit staff cover for maternity leave, and this limitation applies to all services provided by XXX Primary Care Trust"

What??? My Mum who is a nurse had told me that their dept was never allowed to employ maternity cover, but I am staggered. No post in the trust has maternity cover? What happens when a GP or consultant goes on maternity leave.

Really this is no way to run a business. Anyway this will be going further, but I was just so staggered had to share. The NHS gets crapper and crapper and crapper the more I have the misfortune to deal with it.

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pie · 03/02/2004 13:54

I was just about to say how dismal I think this is, right now I have no suggestions but I'm sorry you are having to fight for what DS1 should just get!. pie xx

Blu · 03/02/2004 13:58

This beggars belief.

I wonder if it is just your local trust: we are on our third maternity-cover physio for DS. It should definitely count against them in the star-rating system.

I am sure you have the full gamut of complaints channels well-covered, JimJams, but i am sorry you are having to grapple with this.

Evita · 03/02/2004 15:42

My brother's a nurse and when his ward manager was recently off for maternity leave, he was employed to cover her, so it can't be an NHS policy across the board.

SueW · 03/02/2004 16:07

That makes it clearer to me why I recently heard a maternity hospital was re-opening. They had shut some motnhs before because something like 23 midwives had gone on mat leave. I wondered why this would necessitate the place to close but if there is no mat cover in the NHS that would explain it.

BTW, Jimjams, I have seen some ads recently for voluntary SALTs assistants. They are obviously so desperate they are trying to cover by getting people in to do it unpaid.

Joshjunior · 03/02/2004 18:38

I work in the NHS and am currently on maternity leave. In my department monies have had to be 're-routed' in order to provide 2 months of cover for me. I think part of the problem is that locum staff are really really expensive compared to in post cover and the money simply isn't there to provide long term cover. With all the c**p you have to put up with these days in the NHS it's no wonder people are leaving and going to work for agencies. (Just my opinion!)

Jimjams · 03/02/2004 20:36

Agree totally joshjunior.

It also strikes me that if maternity cover is never provided then the female dominated profession will be hardest hit. eg SALTs OTs nurses, HVs, midwives.

Yep- beats me how anyone sticks working in the NHS these days.

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bluebear · 03/02/2004 20:50

I work for the NHS.. my first mat. leave I said I'd take the whole year off.... they tried to recruit cover but couldn't get anyone qualified. I returned after 7 months to a horrendous backlog of work... just cleared it in time to go on mat. leave again.. they aren't attempting to recruit this time as we have had vacancies in our dept. for the last 2 years and no qualified staff wanting to return in a few months but can't get childcare (and will not be making any money when I do)... to think I could have had a 'proper job'

misdee · 03/02/2004 20:55

gr @ nhs. its completely pointless it seems. what the heck are people meant to do?

on another note, dh is meant to have a 4 monthly appointment. his was due in oct/nov, but because there are too many patients and not enough specialists the appointment came thro for next week.

Joshjunior · 03/02/2004 22:34

Glad to hear others working in the NHS feel similar! To parents out there - please please complain in writing to the Chief Exec. of your trust. I know that this helped the SALT dept in our trust get additional finding for an extra post.

Jimjams · 04/02/2004 07:38

I'm writing letters this week josh- one will be going to him.

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handlemecarefully · 04/02/2004 08:58


Escalate it - tell the local paper, write to your MP. NHS Trusts hate adverse publicity and may just be prompted to change their mind

Jimjams · 04/02/2004 10:45

It's been in the paper already :-)

they lied and gave a statement saying they couldn't find anyone (although their letter to me quite clearly states that they're not looking).

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Jimjams · 04/02/2004 10:46

MP is looking into it- I will write another letter this week.

today I need to ring the LEA and ask how they are going to cover ds1's statement without NHS input.

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twiglett · 04/02/2004 10:47

message withdrawn

Jimjams · 04/02/2004 10:52

yes we're thinking of doing that. My letter was written on behalf of a group though - who want to be taken seriously- so I have to be a bit careful.

In the original newspaper article it says "XXX Primary Care Trust, which employs ms XXX, said there were national problems in recruiting autism specialists and it was still in discussion with the council".

That of course is totally irrelevent if they're not funding maternity cover for anyone anywhere.

I'll talk to the committe about approaching the papers. I need to write to the chief exec as well.

But now- now I'm going to ring the LEA.

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susanmt · 04/02/2004 14:29

Just to note there is no point in complaining to the health board/authority about a GP on Mat leave - all prctices are independent small businesses and it is totally up to them whether they choose to recruit for mat cover. You have to complain to the practice itself and it would go through their normal complaints procedure.

Jimjams · 04/02/2004 15:38

Oh I wondered what happened with GP's. That's oK I'm not complaining about them.

Who are consultants etc contracted to? What happens if they go off on long term sick? Not that its really relevant as I'm not complaining about that either. Just interested.

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Tissy · 04/02/2004 16:57

Consultants are employed by the individual Trust. It is usual to get a locum for maternity leave or long term sickness, if one can be found, but in many specialties, there just aren't the extra personnel available.

susanmt · 04/02/2004 17:08

theres a national shortage of consultants in almost all specialties and gps too. no wonder when they can make 2-3x more working as a locum.

Tissy · 04/02/2004 17:11

but in many specialties there aren't locums to be had for any money!

Jimjams · 04/02/2004 20:44

but tissy according to the letter i have they don't provide funds for maternity cover for any post (or long term sickness) within the PCT. They mention the shortage of specialist SALTS but say that they're not looking for a locum anyway as they don't have the cash to provide maternity cover. So in other words a consultant going off must play havoc with their waiting list targets if they're notbeing covered.

Actually it doesnt becuase I was talking to some NHS managers locally, and apparently if people have been waiting the year they are seen privately in a private hospital by the SAME consultant who would be seeing them in the NHS. Except he gets paid more (a lot more).

The system is an absolute joke.

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Tissy · 04/02/2004 21:15

Not going to get into the rights and wrongs of private practice here, but in our Trust, Consultant's maternity leave and long term sickness is covered, if a locum can be found.

Some Trusts are sending patients to private hospitals in order to meet targets (the Trust will be penalised financially if the targets are not met, so in the absence of a cheaper alternative, it is worthwhile).It is usually more cost effective to arrange with a local private hospital to do a certain number of cataracts, hernias or hips.Patients would often rather stay on the waiting list than travel further afield, meaning the targets aren't met. It is not surprising that if a local private hospital is used, then a local Consultant will be consulting/ operating there, BUT it will be in his / her free time, and he/ she will be paid the going rate for private practice. Hospital Consultants who want to do more than a very small amount of private practice have to forfeit 10% of their salary for the privelege. Someone is bound to say, "well it is in their interests to keep the waiting lists up, then", but it really isn't. No-one but the saddest of individuals would want to spend all their free time at the private hospital, and the last thing you want is a private "waiting list" your patients would go elsewhere!

Straying off the topic here. I do think it is wrong that your SALT is not being covered, and I agree with all the suggestions below!

Jimjams · 04/02/2004 23:31

Yeah but in this case the private hospital is 300 miles away

It's the problem with mixing politics and the NHS though. I always think that the fact that SALT isn't on any target list is one of the reasons it tends to suffer. The NHS trusts have to meet their targets- so other areas will suffer,

Not trying to fix the whole NHS though. I'm just interested in the assertation in the letter that no maternity cover is provided within the PCT. Just seems that a consultant daring to have a baby (heaven forbid) or be on long term sick would cause absolute chaos.

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Punnet · 04/02/2004 23:40

I know it's unlikely, but is ther a sure-start local to you? the one i used to work for employed speech therapists. Also, have you tried contacting bibic in Somerset for a programme? It might fill a (ridiculous, I agree with you!) gap. Bibic is the British Institute for Brain Injured Children- they have lots of autism specialists.

Good luck and keep fighting

Jimjams · 05/02/2004 00:04

We're already a BIBIC family We had our review appointment last week. I'm not too worried about SALT for us tbh as I already have a private one who comes once a week. Also I think the LEA would pay for her to go into school if nothing else comes up (as it will then satisfy the statement). I just think its wrong and feel sorry for the poor sods who haven't got the provision specified in the statement- it's wrong.

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