STAFF at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership have been balloted for strike action after Union members of Unison warned that cuts of up to 53 administrator and medical secretary roles could be made.

However the Trust said no "restructures" would take place while the dispute with Unison continued.

Hayley Richards, chief executive at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust said: "We agreed with Unison that we would pause the roll out of the administration restructures whilst the dispute continues.

"It is not the case that 53 full-time posts will be lost if proposals go ahead. Doctors and clinicians will still have administrative support. The overall number of staff in administrative roles will be the same, meaning clinical staff can continue to deliver high quality and safe care.

"The Administration Review aims to address these inconsistencies, to maximise efficiency and to support staff development initiatives."

Michael Sweetman, UNISON regional organiser said: “It is outrageous these proposals have been sold as a way to improve consistency and job satisfaction.

"In reality they represent a dangerous attempt to obtain mental health services on the cheap and furthering the race to the bottom by downgrading staff and reducing their pay. Around 100 staff could be impacted by a reduction in pay of up to 12.5 per cent. Coupled with the financial loss, the changes being implemented will see an overall increase in workload."

The ballot is open until May 22 and any strike action could start in June.