Gloucestershire Care Services Trust has defended proposals to change the way its district nurses work amid concerns from the Royal College of Nursing and local campaigners.

The trust says changes to nurses’ shift patterns are required to “smooth out” current care provision in order to provide a better 24 hour service.

Staff have been consulted over the introduction of an early shift from 7.30am to 3.30pm and a late shift from 2.30pm to 10.30pm, each with an unpaid 30 minute break.

Tracy Roberts, spokeswoman for the Royal College of Nursing in the south west region, said: “Our members are concerned about what these changes could mean for their work/life balance. We’re not opposed to service changes, as it’s means led. We’ve also been raising some skill mix issues with the trust.

“We will be supporting our members with any issues they may have during this time.”

Stroud Against The Cuts, a local campaign group opposed to the changes, has told HSJ that it had been contacted by around a dozen district nurses concerned about the impact the changes could have on the quality of the care they can provide.

Susan Field, the trust’s director of adult services, said: “Earlier this year, we introduced mobile working – the use of laptops and smartphones - to our specialist community nursing teams.

“Our nurses are not being asked to change their work base and move from GP surgeries or health clinics: all our nurses will continueto have a permanent base.  

“The opportunity, however, is to use the lap top remotely so that we can use more of our nurses’ skilled time with patients, update shared patient records in ‘real time’ and avoid unnecessary paperwork or travel time returning to a single base.”  

“This consultation has been approached in discussion with trade unions and their local staff representatives.  In considering these proposals, our community nurses are not being asked to change their work base, and move from GP surgeries or health clinics: all our nurses will continue to have a permanent base.” 

She added that the clinical commissioning group plans to spend an additional £3.9m to bring in new nurses.

Gloucestershire Care Services Trust was established last year following a legal challenge to the transfer of community services from Gloucestershire PCT to a social enterprise.