Threat to 200 hospital jobs

UP to 200 jobs could become redundant at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon, as administrators seek to claw back a £6.5million overspend. Human resources director Karen Charman stressed that no jobs had been identified for compulsory redundancy, and t

UP to 200 jobs could become redundant at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon, as administrators seek to claw back a £6.5million overspend.

Human resources director Karen Charman stressed that no jobs had been identified for compulsory redundancy, and the decision had been taken by the trust's board last week only in principle.

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to save payroll costs at Hinchingbrooke because the work force is becoming more stable and fewer vacancies are occurring to create "natural wastage".

Mrs Charman said the trust had already identified £3.6million savings in pay costs without the need for redundancies, but a further £1.8million was needed to achieve the 10 per cent cost reduction target.


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It is ironic that Hinchingbrooke, which is one of the most efficient non-foundation healthcare providers in the country, should have to make such savage cuts.

Department of Health rules demand that all trusts break even month-by-month, but it underpays efficient trusts for standard procedures in order to prop up inefficient ones.

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The trust does, however, get paid at the full rate for patients it treats from outside its catchment area. Hence, Hinchingbrooke is actively seeking to attract more of them, particularly to its new £25million treatment centre, which opened last year and is already operating at 70 per cent capacity.

"All this is very frustrating for all our excellent staff," Mrs Charman said. "These are people and services we are providing for the people of Huntingdonshire and, on any criterion, we are very popular."

If Hinchingbrooke had been paid in full for the services it provides and if the sale of staff accommodation to Huntingdonshire Housing Partnership had gone through in time, its deficit, if any, at the end of March would have been tiny, the trust says.

It would also have expunged a £4million deficit carried over from the previous year.

The hospital has already scrapped some posts among the equivalent of 1,600 whole-time workers, but all have come from natural wastage, when employees have moved on or retired.

Whatever further savings cannot be made by "working smarter" may have to be found through compulsory redundancy. But, contrary to some local rumour, there is no question of Hinchingbrooke closing its newly-refurbished accident and emergency department, Mrs Charman assured The Hunts Post.

* The 200-post principle is based on average salaries across the trust, but it does not imply the average pay is £9,000, as a full-year figure would. By the time decisions are made and details have been consulted with the staff the trust is likely to be eight or nine months into the financial year. The £1.8million saving will have to be squeezed into the last few months.

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