PATIENTS' safety will be at risk if proposed cuts to admin services across NHS mental health services go ahead, according to staff.

As part of a day of action from Unison, one of the UK's largest trade unions, staff from Fountain Way, the mental health facility on Wilton Road protested on side of the road.

Staff at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust say if the cuts go ahead, redundancies are inevitable and that this will put patients' safety at risk and affect the quality of care on offer.

Amber Cadogan, admin coordinator, said: "Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust is proposing massive cuts to the admin services, which they say will not result in redundancies, but they [the cuts] clearly will."

WATCH: 'This is just the beginning' says Salisbury's 'real life Iron Man' >>>

Tansy Livingston, another member of staff at Fountain Way, added: "[It would mean] losing huge amounts of admin staff, and the knock-on effect that would have for clinical staff is that we wont be there to answer the phones and help patients.

"It's going to greatly affect the quality and safety of the service".

"It would have a massive effect. Admin staff support everybody, and until we're not there, people won't realise things would be a mess

Amber continued: "No one would get appointments, phones won't get answered, we have suicidal people ring us on a daily basis, and if there is no one there, their calls wont get answered."

And staff say it is not just patients who risk being affected.

Tansy added: "Doctors won't have medical secretaries anymore because our contracts will end, which means extra work for everyone else, and I don't know how people will cope.

"There are 75 medical secretaries across the Trust that will be gotten rid of have their roles downgraded. They say there won't be redundancies but I don't see how that's going to work.

A statement from Unison said: "If the proposals go ahead specialised medical secretary roles will disappear and there will be cuts to administrative cover across the Trust. Up to 74 Band 4 posts could disappear, replaced by Band 3 positions and apprentices will be sought to fill Band 2 roles.

"With fewer staff to deliver the same amount of work UNISON is concerned that these proposals will have a massive impact on the workload of clinical staff and consequently the quality and safety of care."

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."

Director of strategy at the Trust, Rachel Clark, 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.

“From the very beginning we have involved our staff in the process with numerous consultation opportunities including roadshows, an expert reference group, weekly Q&A updates, regular information on our intranet and in our staff newsletters and working closely with staff side representatives.

“We are currently continuing with our consultation phase and will take account of all the feedback we have received. We will publish the outcome paper in January 2019.”

In response to Union’s claims regarding patient safety at risk, Rachel added: “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.”