Union's fear over hospital job cuts

A UNION boss last night forecast more job losses at Ipswich Hospital - and described proposals to increase staff parking charges as another “slap in the face” for workers.

A UNION boss last night forecast more job losses at Ipswich Hospital - and described proposals to increase staff parking charges as another “slap in the face” for workers.

Ann Glover, of Unison, was speaking as the hospital's trust board prepared to discuss axing 105 jobs among a raft of cost-cutting measures.

More than 200 savings have been identified in a bid to fill a £16million budget black hole, although £3million of these cuts have yet to be identified.

Ms Glover, whose organisation represents around 1,500 hospital workers, said: “The hospital has said it will be 105 posts rather 105 people cut. On the face of it, that's more acceptable but you have to ask why these job losses are being made. It's not because of a service review, it's financially driven.

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“The work will still be there and it's likely this will have to be done by the remaining staff, who are already overloaded.

“They've come up with 230 proposals for saving money. It seems to me they're very much scraping the barrel and they've still got £3million to find so I don't think we've heard the last of the job cuts.”

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She also criticised proposals to increase parking charges for staff, at a time when they are already under a great deal of stress.

She said: “I don't expect it to be a particularly popular suggestion. Car parking is always a very contentious issue anyway and it's a bit of an extra slap in the face.

“At this moment in time, the staff do not know who is at risk. It's almost like saying: 'You might lose your job. But if you don't, you're going to have to pay more to come to work'.”

Clare Jacobs, Royal College of Nursing officer for Suffolk, also criticised the proposal.

She said: “Nurses have just been awarded a 2.5% pay rise. We said that wasn't adequate at the time and this would erode into that rise.”

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, stressed no decisions have been finalised ahead of today's trust board meeting, being held at the Heath Road hospital.

She said every effort will be made to avoid the need redundancies but admitted losses could not be ruled out.

“We've identified £13million of savings and need to find £16million,” she said.

“We've got further work to do. We're doing everything we can to minimalise the need for redundancies through natural wastage.

“We've had a policy in place for a long time now where every vacancy has been looked at. We've lost 150 posts through this process but nobody has been made redundant.

“It's impossible to predict with any certainty but what we're clear about is that these are only proposals being considered.

”We're pledging to safeguard patient care and to minimalise impact on jobs but we have to be realistic and say that you can't give any cast-iron guarantees. But we're doing all we can to reduce the possibility of any redundancies.”

She added: “Increasing parking charges is a proposal the trust board has been asked to consider and that's all.

“It's not set in stone and we're very clear that we will work with staff representatives to look at the options.”

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