Staff at a private hospital in Bury St Edmunds are facing possible redundancies after being forced into a period of consultation.
It is understood the BMI St Edmunds Hospital, in St Mary’s Square, informed staff of the consultation last week, with nurses, healthcare assistants and housekeeping thought to be among those affected.
Mike Kavanagh, regional Royal College of Nursing officer for Suffolk and Norfolk, confirmed the RCN was representing nurses at the hospital.
He said: “BMI has notified the RCN of a 30-day consultation that may involve the redundancy of a small number of nurses and we are working to support our members.”
As part of the consultation, due to end on July 31, the hospital has proposed making changes to staff members’ terms and conditions.
These are thought to include staff having no set hours or days of work written into their contract, with ‘hours dependent on the needs of the business’, and a reduction in their enhancements for working nights, weekends and bank holidays.
A document given to staff states that, if at the end of the consultation period the proposed changes are implemented, staff will be served notice of them and, if they do not ‘take on those changes,’ they ‘will in effect be resigning’ from their position at the hospital.
A staff member, who wanted to remain anonymous, said they and their colleagues were concerned about how they would be able to pay their rent or mortgages without working set hours and without the enhancements, which would mean ‘losing a lot of money’.
They said eight redundancies had been made last week.
A spokesman for BMI confirmed the hospital was consulting with staff and said it continually reviewed working practices to ensure it was running in ‘the most efficient and effective way’.
He added: “No decisions have yet been made and as we are in the midst of our discussions with staff, some of whom could be affected, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
Economist Philip Blackburn, of Laing & Buisson, said there had been no noticeable decline in people taking out private healthcare but that private hospitals had faced competition from some NHS hospitals since a cap on the number of patients they were allowed to treat privately was removed earlier this year.
A spokeswoman for West Suffolk Hospital said it had not treated more private patients.