Health union UNISON has raised a number of concerns with a proposal by NHS Lanarkshire to replace the existing Monklands Hospital in Airdrie, in response to a public consultation.
UNISON, the major union within the NHS in Scotland representing staff employed in both the public and private sector, has expressed disappointment at the health board’s use of private consultants on the project, and its failure to undertake an Equality Impact Assessment and to assess the project against the Fairer Scotland Duty.
A survey of UNISON members working at the existing Monklands Hospital highlighting concerns by workers has also been submitted to NHS Lanarkshire in response to the consultation.
Monklands Hospital in Airdrie serves a population of over 250,000 in an area covering Cumbernauld, Kilsyth, Bellshill, Airdrie, Coatbridge, Moodiesburn, Uddingston and Bothwell. Options being considered for its future include doing minimal work to the existing site, refurbishing the existing building, building a new hospital on the current site or building a new hospital, either at Gartcosh, or at Glenmavis, both costing over £500 million.
The Lanarkshire Health branch of UNISON, which represents over 5000 members in nursing, ancillary, professional, technical, managerial, administrative & clerical roles at all levels within NHS Lanarkshire, has not favoured any particular option but has highlighted several concerns.
Branch secretary Margo Cranmer said “We are extremely disappointed that NHS Lanarkshire has not undertaken an Equality Impact Assessment or assessed the proposals against the Fairer Scotland Duty. It is our strong view the health board cannot form a view on this strategic decision until this work has been carried out. Equally it is inappropriate to ask the population of Lanarkshire to participate in this consultation without having access to this vital information as part of the consultation documentation.
“NHS Lanarkshire has a well-trained and committed staff and we believe there is a need to build on the well of human resource through a culture of improved leadership, collectivism, and engagement with all staff. Re-profiling the workforce requires substantial and sustained investment in education and training and is the key to unlocking capacity to modernising models of NHS care within Lanarkshire.
“UNISON is keen to ensure that UNISON members’ experience as health care providers informs the process of change and so ensure that the health care provision in Lanarkshire is one ‘fit for the future’.”
UNISON asked its members at Monklands Hospital what they thought of the redevelopment proposals. Some 43 per cent who responded to the survey said they wanted a new hospital built at the existing site while 38 per cent wanted a new hospital to be built at the Glenmavis site. Many considered the currently favoured site at Gartcosh to be too far away from the population it served.
Many UNISON members at Monklands Hospital are part-time workers, therefore with lower earnings, who live in the immediate vicinity and a move to a new site would have a greater impact on them. Concerns about travel and transport to a new site were raised by 70 per cent of workers with fears of staffing problems that could arise in adverse weather conditions, lack of public transport and traffic congestion. Many staff walk to work at present, 17 per cent, and another four per cent cycle to work. Some 42 per cent were worried about how the move would impact on their own caring responsibilities for children and elderly relatives. Patient care was a worry for 51 per cent of staff who responded and 70 per cent were concerned about the potential impact on staffing.
NHS Lanarkshire is to report to the health board on the responses to the consultation, affordability and practical issues and an outline business case for the replacement or refurbishment of the hospital will be submitted to the Scottish Government for approval.