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Foundation Trust considers ditching 750 posts to save cash

Rotherham Hospital needs to lop £50 million off its £220 million budget by 2015

Caroline White

Friday, 26 October 2012

A foundation trust in South Yorkshire is contemplating cutting 750 jobs in a bid to lop £50 million off its £220 million budget by 2015, although no formal announcement has been made.

The job losses, which would amount to around 20 per cent of Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust’s workforce, were mooted in a development strategy report presented to the hospital’s board.

Staff who could face the axe include admin and clerical workers, nurses, and allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists. The Trust’s workforce accounts for 70 per cent of the Trust’s overhead, said a hospital spokesperson.

In a statement, the Trust said that the Trust continued to face a “very challenging financial future as a result of the economic downturn.”

It continued: “All NHS services therefore have to radically review their operating practices in order to reduce costs, whilst at the same time maintaining quality of service in the face of rising demand and higher expectations.”

The Trust said it needed to make savings from every part of the organisation and was therefore “exploring options” to achieve that.

“The main focus of this is on opportunities for Voluntary Redundancy (VR) and Mutually Agreed Resignation (MAR) schemes; however, one of the options is a reduction in workforce expenditure in the form of a compulsory redundancy proposal.

Brian James, Chief Executive commented: “Our staff are our biggest asset, but also our biggest cost, and we are exploring how to best manage and substantially reduce our costs whilst ensuring we continue to provide quality healthcare and fulfil our commitment to the people of Rotherham to build a healthier future together.”

But the union UNISON warned that Rotherham might be the latest hospital to announce heavy job cuts, but wouldn’t be the last as many more struggled to cope with funding cuts, rising demand, and the legacy of PFI debt.

Pam Johnson, UNISON head of health for Yorkshire and Humberside, said: "This is terrible news for patients and for the local community who will lose vital health services.

Cutting nursing staff at a time when we have an ageing population and have already lost nearly 6,000 nurses since the [Coalition] came to power, should worry everyone who relies on the NHS in Rotherham.”

She said the announcement would be a “devastating blow” for families in the run up to Christmas, at a time when the jobs market was very tight.

“The Trust says it is looking at voluntary redundancies and natural wastage, but the scale of the job losses causes huge concern and compulsory redundancies aren't ruled out of the Trust's plans,” she added, calling on the trust to explore other options.

"This is the worrying shape of things to come,” she said. “Hospitals across the country are struggling to cope with the impact of funding cuts, rising patient numbers and the legacy of PFI debt.

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