Concerns over plans to cut 300 jobs at Peterborough and Stamford hospitals

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A NURSING union has expressed concerns for patient care at hospitals where bosses say they will have to axe 300 jobs to plug a £38m shortfall.

The Royal College of Nurses fears Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Trust’s cost-cutting plans will make it harder for its members to care for patients.

Last week the trust announced it was cutting 300 jobs to resuscitate its ailing finances, seven months after moving into the new £289m Peterborough City Hospital.

It says its financial problems are down to a reduction in its income from primary care trusts and increases in running costs and staff numbers. It also says the new building is more expensive to run.

The hospital was paid for under a private fiance intiative and the payments are contributing to the £38m shortfall.

The trust says it costs more than £200m to provide its services but its income for 2011/12 is £206m, compared with £225m last year.

All NHS trusts had a four per cent savings requirement.

Royal College of Nurses officer Tony Durcan is holding weekly meetings with the trust and says the 300 full-time posts would equate to eight per cent of the trust’s workforce.

He also fears that 500 people will be affected as the majority of employees are part-time workers and added that the union is also concerned about support staff who help nurses do their job.

Mr Durcan said: “No-one can pretend that you cut eight per cent of your workforce and still pretend that you are going to be providing exactly the same service when you had 100 per cent. Our primary role is to ensure that our ability to nurse is protected and supported and enhanced rather than reduced or lost.”

There are currently 80 vacant posts at the trust which are being absorbed into the 300 redundancies.

The new hospital includes five more operating theatres and new radiotherapy service.

Director of communications Andrew Mackintosh said: “Our overall income for 2011/12 is anticipated to be £206m, compared with £225m last year.

“All NHS trusts have an efficiency requirement of four per cent this year, as part of the Department of Health’s Operating Framework, and all NHS hospitals are experiencing a reduction in the amount they are paid to treat their patients – the national hospital tariff.”

The trust’s medical director John Randall said: “We’ve started work with our staff to look at where our posts need to be reduced.

“We will provide further information to staff on an ongoing basis, as we work through the process.

“Patient care remains our priority. Any plans we put in place to address the issues we face must ensure that quality of patient care is not compromised. We focus on having safe staffing levels on our wards, and our absolute priority remains the safety and quality of care for our patients.

“We have already put measures in place to reduce spending across all areas as part of our savings and efficiency plan, which covers efficiencies and cost reductions.

“The new hospital replaced three hospital sites across the city. We reduced our maintenance costs at the old hospitals, in anticipation of the move and we incurred additional costs for our new equipment.

“We are reviewing all our costs as part of the efficiency plan to ensure we are achieving maximum benefit of a single-site, state-of-the-art hospital.”