Essex health bosses warn of job cuts

HEALTH chiefs have warned job cuts are on the cards as they try to shave more than £10million off their spending.Colchester Primary Care Trust (PCT) has drawn up a financial recovery programme to clear nearly £6m of debt and a further £7.

By Juliette Maxam

HEALTH chiefs have warned job cuts are on the cards as they try to shave more than £10million off their spending.

Colchester Primary Care Trust (PCT) has drawn up a financial recovery programme to clear nearly £6m of debt and a further £7.2m of savings required due to changes in the NHS financial system. They are hoping to clear £10m of these debts this year.

Bosses are imposing a job freeze on all managerial, administrative and clerical posts. Staff will only be recruited to clinical positions. The PCT is also cutting the number of and expenditure on agency staff.


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The biggest cause of overspending last year was the number of patients registered with Colchester GPs who were admitted to the town's hospital as emergency patients.

The PCT has come up with a range of initiatives to cut this, such as community matrons to support people with chronic conditions and the setting up of a health visitor advice line.

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It will be also running campaigns to try to reduce the estimated £1m to £2m of prescription medicines which are wasted every year in Colchester.

Chiefs hope to save more money by reviewing in-house training and development, and through the introduction of new IT.

The PCT, which is confident front-line services will be protected, has written to all staff and Colchester GPs to tell them about the savings plan.

Brendan Osborne, chief executive, said yesterday: “To save over £10m out of a budget of £203m in 2006/2007 will be extremely challenging for Colchester PCT - although we are encouraged from elsewhere that this has been done without an adverse affect on patients.

“We have been working closely with staff, GP practices and partner organisations to come up with a robust recovery programme that will enable us to achieve this but also continue to hit national targets for issues that are really important to our patients, such as inpatient and outpatient waiting times, reduction of MRSA, and access to GPs and other primary health care professionals.

“In fact, some measures have already been in place for two years but our overall performance in both 2004/2005 and 2006/2007 continued to be strong and from the perspective of patients, which is the

only one that ultimately matters, we continued to make enormous progress.”

Yesterday union spokesman Geoff Reason, Unison head of health for the eastern region, said trusts are facing financial difficulties due to problems with NHS funding nationally.

“We very much believe trusts shouldn't be in this position,” he said.

He said it was impossible to impose a blanket ban on recruiting for certain type of jobs: “You cannot run a hospital and clinics without support staff. Support staff in the NHS are extremely good value for money. If you appoint four nurses, you need to appoint back up or else they spend all day doing clerical work.”

He added that Unison is due to launch a campaign next week about PCT cuts.

juliette.maxam@eadt.co.uk

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