PROPOSALS to cut more than 70 NHS mental health roles threaten to put patients at risk, a union has claimed.

Unison has called on Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust to rethink proposals to cut 74 medical secretary and administrative roles. The plans are currently out for consultation.

Unison organised protests outside mental health facilities across the region yesterdeay, including Sandalwood Court hospital in Stratton.

Michael Sweetman, Unison regional organiser, said: “It is outrageous that these proposals have been sold by the employer as a way to increase efficiency and job satisfaction. In reality they represent a dangerous attempt to obtain mental heath services on the cheap and furthering the race to the bottom through levelling downwards, rather than upwards.

“Mental health support in the UK is already in crisis, with increasing need countered by under-resourcing of services.”

Rachel Clark, director of strategy for AWP, said: “We recognise that the review of administration roles and functions across the organisation is creating uncertainty but the purpose of this review is to create a professional structure to better support our staff, the organisation and our service users.

“By developing admin hubs, creating cross cover opportunities and standardising job descriptions we aim to deliver a career framework that will be beneficial to all those who work in these vital roles.

“Patient safety is of paramount importance to the trust and something we take extremely seriously. We have conducted a great deal of research and consultation throughout the review so far."

“We continue to listen and would like to make clear that no decision about final structures has been made. Quality impact and equality impact assessments will be carried out once feedback has been reviewed and final structures proposed.”

The outcome of AWP's current staffing review will be published in January.