WORKFORCE: Epsom and St Helier has announced it needs to save £18.7m by March 2012 to help close the gap between income and expenditure.

The trust has started a 90-day consultation with staff about plans to make “substantial savings”, including the shedding of 115 posts. Senior managerial and medical posts are among those earmarked to disappear.

The trust set out the following areas in which it intends to make substantial savings:

  •  Reducing the amount spent on agency and bank staff (current spend is £40m a year);
  •  Ensuring operating theatres are as efficient as they can be (every minute an operation is delayed costs £20);
  •  Reducing the amount of time patients spend unnecessarily in hospitals;
  •  Getting the best value when buying goods and services.

However, it also said it needs to lose up to 115 whole time equivalent posts over the next year, but said it would try and reduce this number.

The trust said: “Importantly, we hope to avoid compulsory redundancies by reducing our temporary staffing bill, which is currently £40m per year. We will also look to redeploy staff to vacant roles as other employees retire or leave.”

The majority of the affected posts are non-clinical, administrative and managerial, and include a number of senior positions:

Non-clinical

  •  Leadership team - 7 (directors and senior managers) (15 per cent of this workforce)
  •  Corporate services (including finance, estates and IS) – 36 (6 per cent)
  •  Middle management and clinical support roles – 46 (10 per cent)

Clinical

  •  Nursing and midwifery – 0
  •  Medical workforce (doctors) – 26 (4 per cent)
  •  Other clinical roles – 0

Even if the £18.7m saving is achieved, the trust said it planned to end the year with a deficit of £19.3m – subject to agreement with NHS London.

Chief executive Matthew Hopkins said: “Based on evidence, we employ the equivalent of 26 more medical staff than other trusts of similar size.

“As such, we believe we can work more efficiently, treating more patients more quickly and, as a result, reduce the amount of extra hours our doctors have to work. Not only is this good for patients, but it saves money.”

He added: “I am well aware of the impact that these changes will have on our staff and the uncertainty that the consultation will cause. However, we are facing tough financial times and we owe it to our patients, local people and staff to ensure we are working as efficiently as possible to deliver the best possible care.”