1,300 jobs fac­ing axe at trou­bled NHS board

Of­fi­cial pa­pers re­veal plan to cut Tay­side work­force by 10%

The Herald on Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Hutcheon

ONE of Scot­land’s most fi­nan­cially chaotic health boards is con­sid­er­ing “un­be­liev­able” plans to “re­duce” its work­force by 1,300 in a bid to bal­ance the books.

Of­fi­cial pa­pers re­veal an “ac­cep­tance” by NHS Tay­side that staffing lev­els need to fall by 10 per cent, even though the Gov­ern­ment has agreed to write off its £62 mil­lion debt bill.

The board told The Her­ald on Sun­day that any re­duc­tion will come from “nat­u­ral staff turnover”, but Scot­tish Labour health spokes­woman Mon­ica Len­non said: “A ‘re­duc­tion’ of 1,300 jobs is not a res­cue plan for Scot­land’s worst-per­form­ing health board. It’s a recipe for dis­as­ter that could risk pa­tient safety and staff well­be­ing at NHS Tay­side for many years to come.”

The or­gan­i­sa­tion, which em­ploys around 13,500 peo­ple, is con­tin­u­ing to over­spend and new board pa­pers make clear that a big re­duc­tion in staff is be­ing ear­marked.

One doc­u­ment noted that the board’s work­force plan had been sub­ject to “con­sid­er­able re­view”, as it “did not re­flect the re­quire­ment for the Board to re­duce its staff by around 10 per cent to

be com­pa­ra­ble with other Boards.”

An as­sur­ance re­port from Septem­ber, in a sec­tion marked “other ma­jor is­sues”, also cited an “ac­cep­tance” that “staff lev­els need to re­duce by 10 per cent”.

A com­mit­tee minute from the same month also showed work­force di­rec­tor Dr An­nie In­gram dis­cussing plans for a ser­vice re­design. It noted: “Dr In­gram ad­vised that this re­quired hav­ing in­volve­ment of both front line staff and part­ner­ship. In terms of the work­force bench­mark, it was noted NHS Tay­side was 10 per cent over­com­mit­ted and this needed to be safely re­duced.”

The com­ments of an­other se­nior fig­ure, non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Dou­glas Cross, were re­layed in the same doc­u­ment: “Mr Cross wel­comed and took as­sur­ance re­gard­ing the di­rect ap­proach and noted that bench­mark­ing in­di­cated that staffing lev­els re­quired to be re­duced by 10% per cent. Mr Cross high­lighted the im­por­tance of hav­ing clar­ity and hon­esty around that, how this mes­sage was de­liv­ered and en­sur­ing staff en­gage­ment mov­ing for­ward. The age pro­file of the or­gan­i­sa­tion was noted with pos­si­ble op­por­tu­ni­ties and risks from staff re­tri­als and re­gion­al­i­sa­tion.” The minute added: “Dr In­gram high­lighted the need to re­duce and re-pro­file, achieve fi­nan­cial bal­ance, achieve wait­ing time tar­gets in ad­di­tion to re­duc­ing the work­force by 10 per cent.”

Len­non, who is a mem­ber of Scot­tish Labour’s shadow cab­i­net, said: “The dilemma fac­ing NHS Tay­side is the legacy of the for­mer Health Sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son, her­self a Dundee MSP and will cast doubt on the se­ri­ous­ness of her re­place­ment Jeane Free­man to res­cue the trou­bled health board.”

“The fi­nan­cial chaos and risk that has plagued NHS Tay­side is not the fault of its loyal and ded­i­cated work­force nor is it fair on the pa­tients. For NHS Tay­side to be con­sid­er­ing re­duc­ing staffing by 10 per cent, at a time when staff are al­ready over­worked and stressed, is un­be­liev­able and raises se­ri­ous safety con­cerns.

“Nicola Stur­geon claimed to Richard Leonard at First Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions that health boards were not fac­ing cuts but that has been ex­posed as com­plete fic­tion. Our health ser­vice de­serves bet­ter and must have enough staff to de­liver the care peo­ple need – not more cuts from an SNP Gov­ern­ment that can’t be trusted with the fu­ture of our NHS.”

Tory MSP Miles Briggs said: “Scot­land’s pop­u­la­tion is in­creas­ing and get­ting older. So quite why any health board would re­duce staffing num­bers by a tenth is a mys­tery. “Health boards right across the coun­try are al­ready un­der im­mense strain, partly be­cause the SNP has failed mis­er­ably to plan prop­erly for the fu­ture. Al­low­ing this level of re­duc­tion will only make that cri­sis worse.”

Re­spond­ing for NHS Tay­side, An­nie In­gram said: “Over the past two years, NHS Tay­side has car­ried out a num­ber of work­force bench­mark­ing ex­er­cises which showed NHS Tay­side’s spend­ing on work­force is higher than sim­i­larly­sized health boards.

“We spend around £540 mil­lion on staff ev­ery year and we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that our pub­lic fund­ing is spent in the best pos­si­ble way. It is im­por­tant that we iden­tify where ef­fi­cien­cies can be made while en­sur­ing that ser­vices are be­ing de­liv­ered with the best use of the re­sources we are al­lo­cated.

“Pa­tient safety and clin­i­cal care re­main a top pri­or­ity for NHS Tay­side but we must also achieve fi­nan­cial bal­ance.

“That is why we are car­ry­ing out an or­gan­i­sa­tion-wide re­view of staff num­bers, grades and skills is be­ing car­ried out in part­ner­ship with our staff and our trades unions to en­sure we have a safe, af­ford­able and sus­tain­able work­force.

“Our trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme will present op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­design ser­vices de­liv­er­ing them in a dif­fer­ent way with a dif­fer­ent work­force. There is a no com­pul­sory re­dun­dancy pol­icy in NHS Scot­land there­fore no-one will lose their job. Any re­duc­tion will be due to nat­u­ral staff turnover.”

Scot­tish Labour health spokes­woman Mon­ica Len­non has ex­pressed con­cerns re­gard­ing pa­tient safety in Tay­side

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