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PATIENT safety fears at four Lincolnshire hospitals sparked a "no confidence" vote on NHS bosses by unions today.
Unite, Unison, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and GMB are among the unions that passed the vote on the management at the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS trust.
Representatives wrote to interim trust chairwoman Elaine Baylis on December 7, saying it had raised "significant" ongoing issues on a number of occasions.
The trust runs Lincoln County Hospital, Grantham and District Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital in Boston and County Hospital in Louth.
Unite regional officer Steve Syson said the "chaotic" trust was running an estimated deficit of £80 million a year yet bosses manage to find £700,000 to spend on three management roles.
He said: "How many badly needed NHS frontline staff dealing with direct patient care would this princely sum have paid for?"
Mr Syson added that the management appeared to be more worried about the colour of the socks staff wore or the colour of their hair than the fact there was understaffing on the wards in some of the hospitals.
The unions have also called on NHS Improvement, responsible for overseeing NHS trusts, and the Care Quality Commission, the regulator for health and social care services in England, to pay a second visit to the trust for a more in-depth investigation.
RCN regional operational manager David Kirwan said their reps at the hospitals have raised concerns on issue like staffing levels.
"Staff are working hard in extremely busy operating conditions for the trust and are reporting that actions and behaviours by senior management sometimes feel unsupportive and are an unhelpful distraction from dealing with some of the big challenges that the hospitals and their staff face," he said.
"We know of instances where nursing staff have been challenged by managers about something so petty as their hair colour, for example. It's as if there aren't any significant issues to resolve to relieve staffing pressures and ensure consistently good standards of care for patients when there clearly are.”
The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS trust did not respond to requests for comment at the time of going to press.
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