Agency nurses must go without pay if they come into contact with coronavirus at Milton Keynes Hospital
Hard-working agency nurses at Milton Keynes Hospital are not being paid if they have to self-isolate after caring for patients who have coronavirus, the MK Citizen can reveal.
Despite assurances from the government that NHS workers would be protected, all bank staff at MKUH have been told they will not be paid if they catch Covid-19 while working at the hospital.
A whistleblower agency nurse told the MK Citizen today: "We are not being supported by the senior members of this hospital. Staff are becoming ill throughout the Trust due to the increasing pressures on us to work longer hours."
The nurse also claimed agency staff, who make up a large proportion of the hospital's workforce, are not being paid enhanced rate to work overtime to cover shortages due to self isolation.
"Staffing levels in the emergency department are at dangerously low levels which is a cause for concern given the pressure to assess and treat patients who are presenting with Covid-19 at increasing numbers daily. Should a trauma call present to the department I dread to think how they would fare," she said.
The whistleblower also criticised the isolation area used for suspected coronavirus patient in A&E.
"The isolation area iis the Observation Unit which is being screened from the rest of the unit by a small plastic screen. This is a five bedded area divided into two smaller areas. It is not a negative pressure area and is easily accessed by one door on one end which leads onto the ambulance queuing area and at the other end it leads into the patients' kitchen," she said.
A spokesman for MKUH said: "We are currently following the national guidelines with regards to bank staff which is they do not get paid if they have to self-isolate. We will amend this should national guidance change.
"If permanent employees/contracted members of staff are advised through Staff Health & Wellbeing or NHS 111 to self-isolate this will be classed as sickness absence and will be managed and paid as per the Trust’s sickness policy. They will get sickness pay as standard.
"If members of staff are well enough to still work, we make arrangements for them to work remotely and therefore it doesn’t count as sickness absence and they get there salaried amount as normal."
The spokesman added: "We are advising staff that they should NOT self diagnose isolation and instead should speak to our Health and Wellbeing team and NHS111 first to establish if they need to isolate and follow their advice."
He denied that staffing levels were dangerously low, saying: "We monitor staffing levels and skill mix carefully and will, where needed, fill any gaps with agency staff but this period of time is no different from any other time."