Medical records staff and members of a health workers’ union are set to protest over East Sussex Healthcare Trust’s plan to relocate patients’ medical records.
The demonstration is set to take place from midday tomorrow (November 17) at Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH.
More than one million records and dozens of staff who work at both hospitals, are being relocated to a central records store in Apex Way in Hailsham.
East Sussex Healthcare Trust said health records will soon be electronically tagged to keep track of them – and all notes will be scanned to create electronic documents.
However members of the union GMB and some medical records staff say the plan is ‘costly’ and ‘unnecessary’ – and argue it will add two hours to their working day in additional travel time.
Staff and GMB members will be demonstrating over the ‘lack of consultation’ over the plans from 12pm to 2pm tomorrow.
A spokesman for the GMB said: “Staff are concerned that this avoidable money wasting move could see patients’ appointments having to be cancelled, and that if added to the already increasing pressure the hospitals already face from under funding, staffing shortages and seasonal patient increases, can and will reach breaking point if and when, traffic problems, the weather or failing to requesting notes on time, means that records don’t find their way to the doctors and consultants for them to check them in time for a patient’s visit.”
Gary Palmer, GMB regional officer, said the trust was taking ‘drastic action’, adding staff could find themselves with changes to their ‘work-life balances’ or ‘face redundancy’.
The union said the relocation could mean a 13-mile round trip to Eastbourne and a 34-mile journey from Hastings.
More than 1.5 million records are currently stored across the two hospitals sites and two off site facilities, but Apex Way is the only site which is not ‘at capacity’. The trust said the change will also allow the hospitals to expand clinical space.
Speaking in October, Richard Sunley, acting chief executive, said: “The trust has listened to its staff who suggested single siting as a solution to the capacity problem at a meeting last summer.
“We recognise this is not popular for some of our records staff and we have engaged with them throughout this process and will continue to do so as we move forward to work through any outstanding issues and concerns.”
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