Hospital to slash 250 jobs

PRIME Minister Tony Blair has been accused of talking “a load of rubbish” by an MP after it was announced 250 jobs would be lost at a mid-Essex hospital.

By Annie Davidson

PRIME Minister Tony Blair has been accused of talking “a load of rubbish” by an MP after it was announced 250 jobs would be lost at a mid-Essex hospital.

On the day that Mr Blair predicted only a few hundred compulsory redundancies country-wide in the health service this year, staff at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford were called into briefings where job cuts were finally confirmed.

The cash-strapped hospital has been trying to save £14 million this financial year and its 3,000 staff have already been encouraged to cut down on photo-copying and remember to switch off lights.

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The hospital has managed to save £10million but is now seeking to make up the remaining £4million with the loss of 250 jobs.

Staff have been now invited to volunteer for redundancy - the first time the hospital has ever run such a scheme.

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At the same time the hospital is reviewing its administration, clerical, human resources, estates and facilities and IT departments with the possibility of reducing staffing.

Yesterday Mr Blair said nationally the vast majority of staffing reductions would involve posts remaining unfilled or people being moved to new positions, and only relatively few NHS workers would actually lose their jobs.

He said: “The actual numbers of compulsory redundancies - which is what most people would understand by job losses - as far as I can see from the figures I have got, is a few hundred, not 20,000.”

But last night West Chelmsford MP Simon Burns said: “He is talking a load of rubbish.

“You only have to look over the last eight weeks at the job losses in West Suffolk and Ipswich that those losses together with Chelmsford amount to more than the job losses Blair spoke of today.

“It is cloud cuckoo land.”

Mr Burns added: “It is an insult that on the day that Mid Essex Hospital Trust announce 250 job losses for the Prime Minister to claim that the total job losses in the NHS throughout the country will be a few hundred.

“That is quite clearly spin and it is not based on a scintilla of factual evidence.”

Mr Burns said Mr Blair's comments were also an insult to the people who had spent two years training at Anglia Ruskin University to be nurses who would then struggle to find a job.

He labelled it a “criminal waste of their potential and endeavours.”

A spokeswoman for Mid Essex Hospital Trust said staff were informed of the situation yesterday during briefings and were also given a letter.

She said that it would be the posts that would be made redundant and not the people, so a job could only be lost if a manger said it was feasible.

“We are trying to avoid front line functions. Anyone can apply for redundancy but it is down to their line manager whether it is feasible or not,” she said.

The spokeswoman added jobs such as midwifes and nurses had been the subject of recruitment drives because of shortages and would be unlikely to be suitable for redundancies.

She was unable to say what the next step would be if less than 250 people volunteered to leave.

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