Jobs to be axed at the James Paget Hospital

THERE was 'deep concern' today as it emerged that more than 60 staff at the under-fire James Paget Hospital face losing their jobs in a major cost-cutting exercise.

In what has been a torrid few months for the hospital and its staff, 64 posts have now been identified as being at risk of redundancy as the trust says it must save �19.5m by 2014.

In a statement the trust said that although some of those losses will be offset by redeployment into existing vacancies, some staff will lose their jobs.

The majority of the posts affected are administrative and support services roles but one clinical role could potentially be affected.

The trust says the step has not been taken lightly and it has kept the proposed redundancies to an absolute minimum.

It has been a turbulent few months for the hospital which saw chairman John Hemming resign in November following critical Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports.

Non-executive director Peter Franzen, took on the role of interim chairman.

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Last week it emerged the hospital had launched a search for a new chairman. The salary for the post, which is being advertised, is �45,000 for a minimum of three days a week.

The hospital was also badly affected by norovirus this winter.

At its height, eight wards were shut to new admissions, causing significant pressures and the most serious outbreak it has had since 2001.

The redundancies would lead to over �1m in savings each year.

Other savings in respect of staffing will come from contractual changes, the statement said.

Some posts will be re-graded and other staff will see a reduction in their earnings through changes to working hours, for example, being removed from unsociable hours payments.

The trust is proposing pay protection for staff that are redeployed into lower paid posts for up to three years which it says will help ease people through the process.

For those whose hours and working arrangements are being changed, the protection would be applied for up to a year.

A formal 90 day consultation period is now underway in line with national guidance.

Kirk Lower, director of workforce at the hospital, said: 'This set of proposals has now been shared with staff representatives and meetings with the staff affected are ongoing. An extensive period of consultation has begun and every effort will be made to redeploy those staff whose jobs are at risk.'

'The trust has thought very carefully about the proposals and whilst there is never a good time to announce such changes, the financial realities facing us cannot be set aside.'

Paul Smith, staff side secretary for the hospital, said: 'This announcement is obviously very disappointing to us.

'We are deeply concerned about the impact these proposals will have on staff throughout the trust and on the local population.

'We have been assured by the trust that they will engage with us in meaningful consultation and negotiations, and it's important that staff know that we will be doing our utmost to defend job losses, and also to protect those that inevitably will be facing loss of income and changes to their working lives.'

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