Fury at lack of clarity on job relocation plan
Up to 60 workers in the Western Trust facing relocation are in limbo due to official indecision, it has been claimed.
The Department of Health plans to centralise administration staff in centres in Armagh, Ballymena or Omagh as part of a cost-cutting drive.
Those affected have been asked to make life-changing decisions over redundancy or relocation by the end of March — but have little official information to base any decision on.
Some may have to sell up to move or spend hours commuting each working day.
One angry staff member hit out at the consultation process.
“My job is one of the ones that they are proposing to move to Co Armagh but I left a consultation meeting no further forward about whether it is definite, when it will happen and how will I be affected,” he said.
“All we got was ifs and maybes but we have to make decisions about relocating or accepting either voluntary early retirement or voluntary redundancy and let the department know by the end of March.
“In my own case the choices I have if it does go ahead and I get moved to Armagh is, that I leave my home in Derry, sell my house which in the current market is impossible, or I undertake a four-hour round trip every day. Neither is practical.”
Concern over the proposals was brought before Health Minister Edwin Poots by SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan, who said women would be worst affected.
“During the consultation process on these proposals the minister was unable to meet with MLAs so I very much welcomed the opportunity to relay to him the fears and concerns of not only the staff affected, but of the wider Derry public,” he said.
“This proposal to relocate public sector jobs from Derry flies in the face of government policy to redress regional economic imbalance and that is a point that was emphasised to the minister.”
Mr Durkan said promises of retraining and redeployment within the Western Trust region “ring hollow”.
The Department of Health has been consulting on shared services in health and social care. Like every other health trust, the Western Trust operates its own administration department, which looks after its payroll, finance payments and income, recruitment and staff selection, travel and subsistence. But the department intends to centralise these operations.