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No To Moving East Sussex Medical Records

Monday, October 26, 2015

GMB Call On East Sussex NHS Trust To Halt Relocation Of Medical Records And Up To 100 Staff From Hastings And Eastbourne To Hailsham                                   

As the records would be based so far away any hold ups or failures could leave patients unable to see doctors and consultants with their notes being unavailable at appointment times says GMB.

GMB, the union for health workers, is calling on Richard Sunley, Acting Chief Executive East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT), to halt plans to relocate medical records from Hastings Conquest and Eastbourne General Hospitals to a central storage facility in Apex Way in Hailsham.

GMB is calling for this plan to be re-examined. This is because medical records being stored at Hailsham will have to be transported from the central store for patient’s visits to the Hastings or Eastbourne Hospitals and back again to the store. In the case of Hastings this will be a round trip of up to 34 miles and for Eastbourne it will be 13 miles.  Any delays or hold ups could impact on medical staff and patients.

If the plan goes ahead a large number of the 100 plus staff in Eastbourne and Hastings will be forced to relocate to Hailsham.

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Officer, said “GMB medical records staff are clear that this proposed move can only be detrimental to consultants and patients at both hospitals. As the records would be based so far away from the hospitals any hold ups or failures could leave patients unable to see doctors and consultants with their notes being unavailable at appointment times.

It was the lack of support for the medical records department by Darren Grayson, the previous Chief Exec, by running down the service at both hospital sites through lack of investment and failure to replace staff leaving the service, which resulted in the department being highlighted within the CQC report. This report resulted in the ESHT being placed into special measures.

The CQC report stated that ‘Patients’ records were not securely stored in outpatients. Medical records were often unavailable and when they were present, they were in poor state of repair. Clinicians had difficulty locating information upon which to base a decision. There was also an issue with the physical quality of records in surgery. There were times when records could not be found and this resulted in temporary files being created. The Trust had a new records management system planned but this was not yet implemented’

GMB members are incensed that there has been a combination of purposeful lack of on-site departmental investment at both hospitals and a failure to speak with those who effectively know how to improve and deliver a fast efficient patient focused service without the need of major expense of transporting and storing records so far.

Our members are very angry as they remain convinced that the CQC report is being used as an expensive smoke screen to simply reconfigure the service to gain the on-site space at both hospitals for other uses if the service transfers to Apex Way.

The CQC report recommended that the Trust needed to ‘Ensure that health records are available and that patient data is confidentially managed’, it doesn’t recommend such drastic action as centralisation in this case

If the Trust had or still invested in simple general maintenance and decoration of the existing facilities, something they will still have to do if the space is to be utilised by another department, then took the time to speak with their own staff in both Eastbourne and Hastings on how the improvements in service delivery and storage of medical records could continue, they could for once save wasting a large amount of money.

GMB is challenging the thought process and planning which came up with the suggested location at Apex Way, Hailsham. This means at best a 13 mile round trip to Eastbourne for each record and in the case of the Conquest a 34 mile round journey. That’s certainly going to make the delivery of such things as urgent notes for A&E more difficult considering the difficulties of road links and traffic problems between sites.

Lack of thought for the effect this organisational type of move will have on staff is clearly evident. If you take into consideration the difficulties travelling to and from work, it will mean for some staff an increase of 2 hours to their working day. The site suffers from a lack of on-site and local vicinity parking and links by rail and bus are unsuitable for staff without their own transport. The failure to carry out a meaningful equality impact assessment to identify the effects of any such move upon staff and their work life balance is going to mean that many staff will simply potentially lose their jobs if redeployment is either not suitable or available.

GMB call for Acting Chief Executive, Richard Sunley, to break with the past way of making decisions  when large amounts of public money was simply frittered away on these types of folly’s and poor decisions by the Trust. The Trust just ignored the effects changes such as these have on experienced staff.

GMB call on Richard Sunley to pause this move while taking the time to engage with GMB, its members and staff to discuss all on-site options, potentially saving the Trust money and from further disengaging and further angering even more staff through poor communication and lack of consultation and consideration.”


Contact: Gary Palmer GMB Organiser 07552 165950 or Mark Turner GMB Branch Secretary 07860 787973 or Charles Harrity, GMB Senior Organiser 07977 518042 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251823


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