A NURSING union claims there have been “alarming developments” at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon following alleged plans to shed 46 nursing posts.

However, the hospital is insistent no decisions have been made and any loss of nursing jobs would come from its bank of temporary workers.

Karen Webb, director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) eastern region, said she had "grave concerns" about the hospital's proposals to cut jobs.

She said that the plans had been broken to the RCN by a human resources manager, rather than a medical professional and without consultation with staff or their representatives.

She added that the plans, which centre around a proposed change to shift patterns, would affect frontline care.

But a spokesman for the hospital, which is run by private firm Circle, insisted patient care was central to Hinchingbrooke and that any changes would be to ensure staff time was being used most effectively.

"Hinchingbrooke is in the middle of an ambitious transformation programme with Circle," she said. "Already big progress has been made with improvements in patient experience, waiting times, car parking, food and overall performance.

"As part of the programme we commissioned an external expert review of staff rostering to ensure we're using staff time in the best way for patients and taxpayers.

"The review highlighted some opportunities for greater efficiency, and we're currently considering the recommendations and drawing up new arrangements.

"As with all decisions taken under our partnership model, we'll be consulting extensively on the new arrangements, and letting those closest to the patients have their say on the best use of staff time in each area.

"Hinchingbrooke currently employs significant numbers of temporary nursing staff, so we expect to manage any transition in the nursing workforce through natural turnover."

But Ms Webb told The Hunts Post: "If they had undertaken a review of any lasting period of time we would have thought they would have done it in partnership with us.

"If there has been such a thought-out plan why did they not share it with us before now?

"There has been no evidence there is a surplus of nurses - what criteria have they applied to form that opinion?"