Hospital cuts raise concern
TRADE union officials were meeting with managers at Hinchingbrooke Hospital yesterday to raise concern over potential cuts and redundancies. The Huntingdon hospital has announced a £5million deficit – some of which it aims to save by not renewing temporar
TRADE union officials were meeting with managers at Hinchingbrooke Hospital yesterday to raise concern over potential cuts and redundancies.
The Huntingdon hospital has announced a £5million deficit - some of which it aims to save by not renewing temporary contracts, allowing early retirements, not filling vacancies and further reductions in the use of bank and agency nurses.
A spokesman told The Hunts Post some senior medical staff were taking a pay cut and charges to employees for car parking and food were set to rise.
She added that it looked as if compulsory redundancies would be avoided.
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However, Unison branch secretary Hazel Gough said: "We are not happy about this. While the number of managers seems to be increasing, the wards are losing front-line staff.
"We are not even Working Time compliant, and we haven't got enough staff to become compliant.
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"These cuts are going to impact on staff morale. People are exhausted already. It's going to fall to pieces eventually. The staff are working to the limits as it is."
Although the cash shortfall for the year at Hinchingbrooke was just £1million, the trust has carried over a £4million deficit from 2004/05. NHS rules demand that the whole sum is repaid and the books are balanced by the end of March next year.
Just three weeks ago the hospital was predicting it would break even on its £80million-a-year budget for 2005/06. Now it says one reason for the deficit was that the planned sale of staff accommodation to Huntingdon-based social landlord, the Luminus Group, had not been completed before the end of the financial year.
A meeting of senior managers last week did not rule out the possibility of compulsory redundancies, though the hospital hopes it can avoid this action, and instead it aims to save £5million on the payroll bill, which accounts for 70 per cent of the budget.
"We are still looking to make savings through natural wastage, such as not renewing temporary contracts, early retirements, not filling vacancies and further reductions in the use of bank and agency nurses," the spokesman said.
"We are trying to avoid compulsory redundancies, and it looks as though we may be able to achieve that.
"You can't eliminate bank and agency staff entirely because there will still be times, such as if nurses fall sick, when we need additional staff to operate a ward safely."
She said two assistant medical directors were to take a pay cut and three project assistant posts would be lost, slowing the speed at which improvements were delivered.
She added: "We have found that we are still subsidising staff catering and we are going to stop doing that.
"But that does not mean we are making staff pay for the deficit.