WORKFORCE: Plymouth Hospitals Trust has begun a consultation with frontline staff on reducing its workforce by 281 whole time equivalents to help the trust reduce the pay bill by £17m.

The trust currently has 250 vacancies so does not anticipate having to make compulsory redundancies. However it has already removed 57 posts from corporate services and made 30 staff redundant.

It has asked staff for ideas on how services could be redesigned to be more efficient.

The trust has to make £31m of savings of which 45 per cent is coming from non-pay expenditure and the remainder from pay budgets.

Helen O’Shea, deputy chief executive and chief operating officer, said: “Our priority is to continue to provide safe and effective care to our patients. Where and the way care is provided is changing through schemes such as enhanced recovery and treating more people as day cases.

“This is better for patients and results in them spending less time in a hospital setting. In turn, this allows us to reduce the number of beds and staff we need and consequently to reduce our workforce and our pay costs.

“As we have said before, we have much to be proud of; mortality rates among the best in the country, patient safety awards for our infection control work, national awards for other staff including our midwives and dieticians and good performance against targets in 2010-11.”

She added: “We have just begun consultation with our staff and their union representatives on reducing the number of posts in our organisation by 281 whole time equivalents.

“We want to be very clear, we do not intend to lose 281 of our staff. There are currently 250 vacancies within the organisation ready to redeploy people into. Compulsory redundancy is the absolute last resort.”