A primary care trust has announced plans to cut up to 90 jobs in response to the Department of Health requirement to balance its books within one financial year.
Coventry teaching PCT is believed to be one of the first PCTs to announce major job cuts in order to achieve financial balance. An estimated 50 clinicians and around 40 managers or administrative workers are facing redundancy as part of a£29m package of cuts.
The PCT is consulting staff and union representatives, but joint chief executive Stephen Jones warned: 'We will be looking at redeployment, but it will be almost impossible to avoid redundancies.' Mr Jones told HSJ he expected to lose 'about 5 per cent' of his workforce, from community nurses to commissioning and modernisation staff.
Mr Jones said the job losses were part of an overall recovery plan for the current financial year in response to 'the national pressures and changing NHS, plus our &Quot;must-do&Quot; targets such as waiting times'.
An underlying£13m deficit emerged shortly after he joined the PCT last June but by year-end in March this had been reduced to£3.8m, he said.
Since then the trust had had£9m cut from its purchaser parity adjustment, the fund used to compensate PCTs subject to increasing purchasing costs under payment by results.
The PCT was also required to pay an£8m contribution to the strategic health authority and the nationwide target to cut management costs by 15 per cent.
'We have a duty to achieve financial balance and provide appropriate services,' Mr Jones said. 'Although this is painful, we don't think we have any choice but to make cuts.'
NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon said: 'We would like to see more cuts at SHA level and above than at the front line. This is the wrong place to make reductions.'
Plans to move services out of the acute sector and into the community would be threatened if PCTs were forced to make cuts, he added.
The job losses come as the PCT sheds its provider function. Mental health, learning disability and addiction services have moved to the new Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership trust, launched earlier this month.
Central functions from estates and IT to human resources and finance are moving to a shared services structure while the PCT will focus on commissioning and redesigning clinical pathways.
The proposed PCT job losses will not affect staff who have moved to the new trust.