WORKFORCE: Southern Health, the community and mental health services provider for Hampshire, is reporting a higher than planned vacancy rate ahead of a planned service redesign.

Board papers obtained by HSJ under the Freedom of Information Act showed that for April, the foundation trust’s mental health service had a vacancy rate of 8.5 per cent, against a target of 7.5 per cent.

“Vacancies are being held pending service redesign,” the trust’s mental health and disabilities report says.

As a result, the trust is using more bank and agency staff than expected, with an out turn for the month of 6.48 per cent, against a 4.6 per cent target. “Expenditure has exceeded target because of the need to provide cover for vacancies,” the report says.

The trust is also falling short on appraisals of mental health staff. The trust’s target is 85 per cent, but the out turn for April was only 79 per cent.

“Action is being taken within all of the divisional directorates to ensure all appraisals are brought up to date. Historically a large number of appraisals are due in March and managers have been asked to ensure all outstanding appraisals are booked and carried out as soon as possible.”