BEDROOMS are are lying empty and state-of-the-art clinic rooms are being used for storage at Bury’s new £5 million hospice, nurses have claimed.
Of the 12 bedrooms in the hospice, just five or six are regularly open to patients, whistleblowers say, leaving the building “like a mausoleum” at weekends.
Bury Hospice’s day services facility has also never fully opened, and is currently manned by three part-time staff, the two nurses told the Bury Times.
The hospice has refuted claims that the number of patients has not increased since the move from the old building in March, 2013.
A spokesman said 134 more patients had been treated since the move, compared to the same period at Dumers Lane.
One nurse, who told the Bury Times she feared she would lose her job if she identified herself, said: “In the past 12 months our patient admissions have been no higher.
“We have GPs saying they are getting knocked back when they try to refer patients. There are empty beds, but a waiting list.”
Six in-patient nurses and one of the five hospice-at-home nurses have already left in the past several months with many more apparently seeking new employment, the whistleblowers claim.
Six staff have been made redundant in the past 12 months, workers say, yet more paid administrative and clerical staff have been hired.
The nurse added: “It is absolutely awful. In a long career I can honestly say I have never worked anywhere where the atmosphere has been so bad.
“Morale was never good, but now it has hit rock bottom.
“Staff are so thin on the ground, you walk in at the weekend and the hospice is like a mausoleum with just three or four nurses working.”
Nurses are currently consulting with UNISON and the Royal College of Nursing over plans to cut their pay for night shifts, weekends and bank holidays.
The plans, announced by hospice bosses last month, mean from September, nurses on these shifts will be paid the same rate as those working days, losing them hundreds of pounds a month.
Bank staff, who cover on a shift-by-shift basis, are also facing a pay reduction to band five, a newly-qualified level, which equates to a loss of about £5 an hour.
When the £5.05 million centre opened in Rochdale Old Road in March last year it was praised for its 12 in-patient bedrooms and extra clinic spaces.
The recent funding crisis could be due to the departure of the head of fundraising about five months ago, as there have been fewer applications for grants made since then, staff say.
A spokesman for the hospice said: “The trustees and senior management team have had to make some difficult decisions in light of the significant funding shortfall which the hospice is currently experiencing and, as a result, there will be some members of staff who are unhappy.
“As a result of the funding shortfall, the hospice is currently unable to function at full capacity and there have been cutbacks compared to when we first opened.
“We will continue to review the situation as the future funding becomes clearer.
“Enhanced payment to nursing staff for working nights, weekends and Bank Holidays will be removed from September 1 in an effort to get costs in line with current funding levels. We are not the only hospice which is unable to pay such enhancements.
“To date, there have been no clinical redundancies. Like all organisations, when staff leave we review the need to replace the post based on need and the financial situation at the time.
“Our fundraising comes from a range of sources such as The Bury Clinical Commissioning Group, legacies, donations, grants and events all of which are constrained by the current economic climate. We continue to pursue every appropriate opportunity to raise funds.”
The nurse added: “Community fundraising is great and the public works hard for us, but that is not the main source of income for any hospice.
“Someone needs to be applying for the big EU grants and without a fundraising manager, who is doing that at the moment?”
The hospice was based in a five-bedroom building in Dumers Lane, Radcliffe, from 1991, and the site is currently being redeveloped to house children’s hospice Grace’s Place.
Another Bury Hospice nurse, who did not wish to be named, said nurses who complain are told: “There’s the door.”
She added: “Some staff are actually crying before they come to work. It’s not a happy ship.”
A third person, a close relation of a Bury Hospice nurse, said: “The people of Bury worked hard to raise the funds to build the new hospice, and money is constantly raised for its upkeep.
“But since it opened its doors the management seem hell-bent on destroying the very foundations on which it stands — its staff.”