Letters

Thanks and congratulations for lifting the lid on Northumbria Healthcare trust ('This Page is not for turning', news focus, pages 12-13, 11 January).

It is nice to know we still have a free press prepared to air grassroots opinion even when it conflicts with the corporate view propagated by a powerful NHS organisation's publicity machine.

As a nurse ward manager working for the trust, I can verify the article's accuracy.

What is particularly worrying about Northumbria is the number of frontline, dedicated staff who are angry, demoralised and fed up with the way things are done and attitudes to them.

As the staff survey showed, less than half the respondents think the trust is a good place to work. Given that many staff chose to bin the survey in protest (rather than have their views ignored), the actual proportion of satisfied staff is probably much lower than half.

This is surely a matter of grave concern in a trust supposedly leading the country in reforming the NHS.

If the NHS plan is to have any hope of success, the government must ensure that chief executives and other board members have the right leadership and peoplemanagement skills to produce staff who enjoy coming to work because they feel valued and supported. These skills are simply not evident at board level in Northumbria trust, and the autocratic, top-down management style which pervades the organisation is a direct result. The trust is living proof of the folly of creating huge monolithic NHS organisations for the sake of short-term cost savings.

The NHS plan is hugely dependent on retaining existing staff and recruiting many more. If Northumbria Healthcare is the model for the rest of the country, the plan can only fail. Radical cardiac surgery is needed at the trust, because staff are rapidly losing heart. But who will sanction and administer the treatment in Tony's brave new NHS?

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