NURSES at a life-saving chemotherapy unit have seen their jobs downgraded as part of a cost-cutting plan.
The move has affected nurses working at the day unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, which has won a special recognition award in the Mail’s Best of Health awards last year after winning the Team of the Year award in the four previous ceremonies.
Cancer patient Barbara Watson, who is currently fighting her third battle with the killer illness after she was diagnosed in 2013, has hit out over the move.
Brave Barbara is a regular visitor to the day unit and was stunned to discover that some staff have had to re-apply for their own jobs, as reported in the Mail last month.
The Mail has now learned that over three members of staff who had to re-apply for their posts, one has kept the same position while another two have been downgraded to lower band nursing positions.
Health chiefs however argued that the changes to be implemented will have “no impact on patient care or experience”.
“I think it’s shocking,” said Barbara, who worked as a care assistant and at the Marbourn Factory before retirement.
“These ladies have got me through all of my chemotherapy last year.
“They are so caring and nothing is a problem for them.”
Barbara, who lives with husband David, 67, in Firby Close on the Central Estate, was first diagnosed with breast cancer 24 years ago.
Then, in 2011 she was given the devastating news that she had lung cancer.
Despite having half of her lung removed, the mum-of-three and grandmother-of-five was told in 2013 that the cancer had returned.
Barbara now says she fears for the future of care for patients with cancer at the hospital.
She added: “The unit is full all of the time, these nurses don’t sit doing nothing all day.
“They know their jobs and are so supportive.
“If they had to leave or couldn’t afford to work there anymore because their pay has fallen, would they close the ward down?
“Or will they get someone who doesn’t care in?”
A spokeswoman for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “A consultation was launched following national recommendations made in the appropriate bandings of all nurses working in clinical areas.
“The changes are connected with the supervisory and managerial aspects of nursing jobs and will have no impact on patient care or experience.”
It comes after the Mail launched the Bring Them Back campaign which has been more than 10,000 sign a petition calling for services to be returned to the town hospital.