More than 200 jobs to go at improving Colchester hospital trust

Colchester General Hospital

Colchester General Hospital

More than 200 jobs are set to go from the trust running Colchester’s hospitals – and are likely to include some compulsory redundancies.

Dr Lucy Moore, interim chief executive at CHUFT.

Dr Lucy Moore, interim chief executive at CHUFT. - Credit: Archant

Yesterday the board of Colchester Hospital University Foundation NHS Trust (CHUFT) approved a financial recovery plan for this financial year.

The trust is predicting a deficit of £30million this year, after making savings of £15m to prevent an even worse budget position.

However a representative from hospital watchdog Monitor said the trust was tantalisingly close to getting out of special measures.

Its recovery plan outlines in “granular” detail where it aims to make savings.

The biggest area is a corporate restructure including cutting 200 whole-time equivalent roles within non-clinical management and administrative and clerical posts, a move which will save almost £3.5m.

Other job cuts are also proposed including 2.5 full-time health care professionals in podiatry and cancer, and 12 clerical posts in medical and surgical divisions.

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Dr Lucy Moore, interim chief executive at the trust, said after the meeting: “These job losses will include not filling vacant posts, and some are currently filled by agency, temporary or interim staff.

“I would be optimistic that the number of compulsory redundancies is small, though we cannot put a figure on it yet, and we would also look to redeploy staff where possible.

“I know staff are anxious about this, it’s always difficult, but I think we can manage the process well and absolutely minimise any redundancies.

“We have a formal process as part of the plan which ensures the patient impact of proposed savings is reviewed by the director of nursing and the medical director, and if there are any concerns then those schemes are not taken forward.”

Across the trust as a whole there are around 3,600 whole-time equivalent staff.

Some of the cost savings include some positive steps, such as reducing the number of outsourced patients which will create more income for the hospital, and halving the level of fines for delayed ambulance handovers at accident and emergency (A&E).

Despite the poor financial position, there were signs of improvement at the trust reported at the board meeting.

Dr Shane Gordon, chief operating officer, reported that last week A&E at Colchester General Hospital achieved the 95% four-hour wait target for the first time in seven months, and the hospital had even taken on cases to alleviate pressure at other trusts in Essex.

Mark Davies, Monitor-appointed improvement director for the trust, said it was understood trusts in special measure took some time to come out of them.

He said: “For some time we have been on the edge of getting there, it has been tantalising and frustrating.

“I think you are very close to it now. We are looking for improvement of course but we are also realistic, and we want to see the right functions for a sustainable improvement.

“I am cautiously optimistic.”

Dr Moore said the trust has been “quite brave” to set a target of coming out of special measures in the third quarter of this year.

She added after the meeting: “Over the last three weeks we have seen a step change in how the hospital feels and a number of things have come together to move that step change.

“There is optimism. It is too early to be as confident as we would like but we have a spring in our step.”