A RESPECTED consultant at Withybush Hospital says she has been forced to “terminate” her employment due to an “unsatisfactory” situation created by the health board - but she hopes the move will result in changes.
Dr Anne Barnes MBE stood down from her role as palliative care consultant at the beginning of the month having returned to ward 10 temporarily after retiring last year.
Dr Barnes and her work at Withybush’s cancer care ward is renowned around the county and further afield for being of the highest standard and she is well respected and loved by staff, patients and their families.
But she felt forced to refuse another monthly extension of her fixed term contract, only previously agreed to if a number of conditions were put in place, as these conditions had “never materialised”.
“I kept my end of the bargain,” said Dr Barnes, adding, “I don’t think I can provide a level of service that is satisfactory.”
“I had to leave, I think it’s the only way that anything’s possibly going to happen – hopefully it will be an impetus to change if I’m not there, they’ll have to do something,” she added.
The conditions Dr Barnes had stipulated included rededicating beds on ward 10 as specifically for oncology and palliative care patients rather than general medicine beds, junior doctors being placed back on ward 10 and herself along with one other clinician named as dedicated cancer care doctors so patients knew they would see one of two doctors.
“This was all in place before I retired. When I retired they hadn’t replaced me therefore all these things ceased to exist and have not been reinstated.
“I don’t think they will be, I think the plan for the longer term is different from what existed before but my concern is in the immediate term.
“It’s not a happy situation, I think it’s very stressful for the staff and the patients and their relatives.
“I have seen that Dr Lewis said that it won’t affect patient care so either they’ve got something in place or it would imply that I wasn’t doing anything,” said Dr Barnes.
In an email to staff, titled, Oncology/Palliative care services at Withybush, Dr Barnes states: “Please be aware that because of a failure to reach agreement with the Health Board in respect of the structuring of the above services in Withybush, in the short to medium term, I have had no choice but to terminate my employment.
“With effect from 1/2/15, therefore, my understanding is that the situation is as follows: “1) Oncology Services at Withybush comprise the Specialist Nurses and the nurse led Chemotherapy Day Unit. There will be no local Medical Oncologist to back up these nurses.
“2) The input from Consultant Oncologists based in Singleton remains uncertain.
“3) There are currently no designated beds for Oncology/Palliative Care in Withybush.
“4) Dr Ray Majer will provide Consultant Palliative Care input at Withybush on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next 2-3 months.
“5) The Palliative Care CNS's (Macmillan Nurses and Paul Sartori Foundation Nurse) will continue as usual and will provide input into Withybush on 2 or 3 days per week.
“It is my view that the above is entirely unsatisfactory. I have made this plain to the Health Board and have consistently expressed my willingness to find a viable solution. Thus far none has been forthcoming.”
Dr Sian Lewis, Acute Services Clinical Director and Consultant in Haematology, said: “Dr Barnes has this week withdrawn from the part-time post in oncology and palliative care. The service model introduced six months ago is unaffected by this and patients will continue to receive oncology, palliative care and chemotherapy services at Withybush Hospital, from a team of doctors and nurses, as they do now.”