The Independent London Newspaper

 

Threat to Whittington jobs as hospital chiefs are told they must save an extra £40m

Published: 7 February, 2014

WHITTINGTON chiefs are considering a raft of “new savings schemes” including staff cuts after being hit by another financial blow.

The hospital’s board has revealed that the NHS Trust will have to save at least £40million over the next two years from April and must “substantial” changes that it admits could cause “significant risk and disruption to the current organisation”.

Every department has been asked to come up with ideas that will be assessed by the chief executive and finance director in the coming months.

A board report, published on Wednesday, said that the Trust has already been cut to the bone and that the “low-hanging fruit” of savings had already been “taken”. A new approach was needed to meet the demands of what would be a “very challenging year financially”, the report adds.

It said: “Efficiency and productivity gains are becoming increasingly difficult to identify. Therefore, a more strategic assessment of models of delivery and fundamental service reviews are being considered. `

"This has identified a number of areas, which potentially carry significant risk and disruption to the current organisation, but which could generate a substantial shift in the cost and income.”

These measures include “reducing the pay bill” with a “zero tolerance approach” to agency staff and supporting a “lean workforce” with “IT systems and e-enabled solutions, potentially resulting in staff reductions”.

There are many long-standing staff at the Whittington who are over 60 years old and on higher pay because of their loyal service and the report says the Trust it is considering boosting the “apprenticeship programme to tackle an ageing workforce at the bottom end of the age profile”.

Last year, the board backtracked on massive jobs cuts and building sell-off proposals following a six-month campaign.

But savings still need to be made and former Lib Dem Islington Council leader Steve Hitchins, the chairman of Whittington Hospital, did not rule out major changes at the hospital when he was challenged at a board meeting last month.

Shirley Franklin, chairwoman of the Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition (DWHC), said: “They [the board] are in an impossible situation because of the cuts nationally – that’s why they need to join us in fighting to save the NHS. They need to become a Foundation Trust and make savings to do this.

"Neither of those are in the best interests of the hospital, it is a political decision by the government of which Mr Hitchins is part.”

On the positive side, the Trust has submitted plans to expand the number of nurses in the hospital and set a timetable for uplifting all staff pay to above the London Living Wage (LLW).

The board report said that no directly employed staff were paid below the LLW – which is £8.80 per hour – and that “work is progressing to identify bank employers” who are paid below the threshold.

The report, authored by project management director Richard Ellis, said: “We are starting with an estimated £20m financial gap as a result of tariff changes, inflation and pay increments of which at least £15m will have to be bridged through new savings schemes.”

Mr Hitchins has been invited to a public meeting called by the DWHC at Archway Methodist Hall on March 3.

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