Trust says it will save £10.9m and avoid large-scale re­dun­dan­cies

The Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - Sen­tinel Re­porter news­[email protected]­

ON HOLD: Empty roles at the Royal Stoke and County Hos­pi­tal are be­ing left va­cant.

HUN­DREDS of va­cant po­si­tions are no longer be­ing filled at Stafford­shire’s two big­gest hos­pi­tals – to save a whop­ping £10.9 mil­lion a year.

The ‘va­cancy pause’ will af­fect 288 jobs at the Royal Stoke Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal and Stafford’s County Hos­pi­tal.

It is the lat­est money-sav­ing plan by the Univer­sity Hos­pi­tals of North Mid­lands (UHNM) NHS Trust, which re­mains in fi­nan­cial spe­cial mea­sures.

Now NHS cam­paign­ers have crit­i­cised the plan, which will be dis­cussed by the hos­pi­tal’s board on Tues­day.

North Stafford­shire Health­watch co-or­di­na­tor Ian Syme said: “The va­can­cies for these 288 jobs are now no longer be­ing filled and that means the work will be trans­ferred to the rest of the work­force.

“We al­ready have an over­stretched hos­pi­tal and the ex­tra work means it will be even more over­stretched and pa­tients will be put at risk.

“These po­si­tions pro­vide sup­port staff to clin­i­cians for the smooth run­ning of the hos­pi­tal and if UHNM wasn’t in fi­nan­cial spe­cial mea­sures then these jobs would not be go­ing.

“Ac­cord­ing to the Care Qual­ity Com­mis­sion, care at the Royal Stoke Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal is out­stand­ing – and this is a risk to that.

“Care is im­per­a­tive, and while fi­nance is im­por­tant, it should not take preva­lence. It’s alarm­ing and could be the start of more jobs go­ing.”

Union lead­ers met hos­pi­tal man­agers yes­ter­day to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion.

Royal Col­lege of Nurs­ing stew­ard Rob Irv­ing said: “I have met with the trust and they will be pro­vid­ing us with more de­tails on the roles.

“They have as­sured us that they have done a qual­ity im­pact as­sess­ment in terms of risk and have told us this won’t im­pact on pa­tient safety.

“What we have said is that if our mem­bers are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sit­u­a­tions where it is or there is more pres­sure on staff they will bring that to our at­ten­tion and we will raise that. I have been as­sured that pa­tient-crit­i­cal roles are be­ing filled.”

Many large NHS trusts have hun­dreds of va­can­cies at any one time. UHNM has more than 11,000 staff across its two main sites. Royal Stoke chief ex­ec­u­tive Paula Clark, left, said: “Re­cruit­ing and keep­ing the right peo­ple in the right jobs is a key part of good fi­nan­cial man­age­ment as well as help­ing us pro­vide the best pos­si­ble care to pa­tients. “Our cur­rent va­cancy pause is al­low­ing us the op­por­tu­nity to con­sider whether we re­ally do need to re­cruit to ev­ery post on a like-for-like ba­sis or whether we could do things in a bet­ter way.

“This will help us re­duce our work­force bill with­out large-scale re­dun­dan­cies as well as re­shap­ing our work­force so it is fit for the fu­ture.

“We have a thor­ough qual­ity risk man­age­ment process to en­sure that pa­tient care will not be af­fected by any changes and key clin­i­cal posts are be­ing re­cruited to in the usual way.

“Our aim is to de­velop and re­tain a flex­i­ble and sus­tain­able work­force that can meet the needs of our pa­tients within the fund­ing pro­vided to us.”

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