Breaking: Mental health trust plans to axe 500 jobs

THE county’s mental health trust is planning to shed 500 front-line jobs and 20 per cent of its inpatient beds over the next four years.

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust says the proposed changes are part of radical redesign being led by clinicians in response to a tough NHS efficiency drive which means it has to cut five pc of its budget every year for the next few years.

While the trust says it is hopeful that it will not have to make any compulsory redundancies, and that inpatient beds will only be axed when there is evidence they are no longer needed, concerns have today been raised over the impact the changes could have on staff and patients.

A union has also blasted the government for forcing the trust to make the cuts, which are part of a drive to save �20bn across the entire NHS.

Aidan Thomas, chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said that instead of having managers trying to “cut out a bit here and a bit there” each year in its bid to save 20pc by March 2016, the trust instead asked 250 clinicians to lead a radical redesign of services.

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He said: “I don’t think this will come as a shock to any of our staff. Most of what we spend is on people and a 20pc reduction in costs over four years probably means about a 20pc reduction in staff.

“We are making a commitment that we will try to avoid compulsory redundancies.”

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The trust employs around 4,500 staff, but the redesign only involves a pool of around 2,130 workers.

It has been keeping vacancies open and as of the end of August this year had the equivalent of 254 full-time vacancies, which means that it has to cut another 247 jobs, across Suffolk and Norfolk, by the end of March 2016.

It hopes to do this through natural wastage, voluntary redundancies and through re-training staff for any other posts that may become available.

The trust has now entered into a 90-day consultation with staff and says it expects the proposals to change during that time due to the feedback it receives.

- For more on this story, including reaction from the unions and MPs, buy tomorrow’s paper.

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