latest health care news

16.10.18

Up to 650 jobs could be cut by struggling East Sussex trust as concerns raised over privatisation

As many as 650 jobs could be cut by an East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT) as part of the provider’s five-year financial recovery plan in a bid to balance the books.

A GMB Union Southern Region announcement today outlined its concerns over the redundancies and called for full public disclosure of the recovery plan by ESHT, which noted the possible removal of around 650 – or 10% – of the current workforce.

The trust, which was taken out of special measures in June after being put into the programme by the CQC in 2016, has a deficit of around £57m in 2017-18 and is aiming for a shortfall of £45m this year.

The GMB said that the trust has given “a glimpse” of its vision through a partial presentation to ‘staff side’ associations, which included a section on the potential of reducing staffing levels by around 650 over the next five years.

In February the trust admitted to a £21m increase in its forecasted deficit after failing to achieve a targeted £36m deficit, which fell to the £57m deficit figure.

The workers’ union noted that it was concerned at both predicted staff losses and other measures as yet unseen in the full presentation, which might threaten both NHS clinical and non-clinical services within ESHT. It argued that it would potentially “seek outsourcing and privatisation as a justification to simply reduce their short-term operating deficit.”

ESHT have strongly denied the union's findings, arguing that it does not "recognise the figures" in the announcement.

A spokesperson for ESHT said: "Our aim is to deliver safe, high quality services for patients that are both clinically and financially sustainable. We are planning for the future based on projected demand, the profile of our local population, national best practice and advances in technology. We are developing a plan to predict what our services will look like in five years’ time so that they meet the population’s needs.

"It is important that we involve members of staff and local partners in developing our plans and we regularly discuss emerging plans at our public board meeting. Our priorities are to become the best at managing frailty, ensure our community services are fully integrated and support us in continuing to provide a range of services and urgent care on both sites.

"We do not recognise the figures in the GMB’s press release. Within the five year strategy we have no plans to privatise or outsource services or make any staff redundant."

GMB regional organiser Gary Palmer said ESHT has sought to reduce their financial deficit through a number of measures over recent times, “many of which have purposely targeted or indirectly affected hard-working loyal NHS frontline and support staff.”

“Let’s be clear, ESHT aren’t alone within the NHS by over working their staff to the point of exhaustion, seeing staff regularly miss or work through their breaks, find themselves starting early or finishing late doing unpaid overtime in order to meet patient needs and the trust’s requirements,” he added.

“But where ESHT seem to stand out is that they are, because of financial reasons, intending to cut 10% of the workforce to reduce a deficit. It’s this radical plan and potential further revelations which the GMB would like to have sight of in the non-abridged public version of their five-year plan as we find ourselves unfortunately having to prepare to support our members and Trust staff past their breaking point which this move would surely create.”

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