Union claims NHS trust plans to ‘cut around 650 jobs’

Conquest Hospital, Hastings. SUS-181008-112146001
Conquest Hospital, Hastings. SUS-181008-112146001

Union officials claim that East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT) is planning to shed its workforce by as much as 10 per cent over the next five years.

The GMB said the trust’s plan makes reference to the possible loss of around 650 jobs over the period.

But the trust has stressed it has no plans to make anyone redundant.

The union said it was told the trust, which runs Eastbourne DGH, the Conquest Hospital and Bexhill Hospital, held a recent presentation to staff side associations which a slide was used outlining the potential of reducing staffing levels.

ESHT currently employs more than 6,500 staff.

Gary Palmer, GMB regional organiser, said: “ESHT have sought to reduce their financial deficit through any number of measures over recent times, many of which have purposely targeted or indirectly affected hard-working loyal NHS frontline and support staff. This is by either reducing overtime payments and instead introducing inferior bank pay rates for the same work or by seeking to down band some HCA (healthcare assistant) roles.

“Let’s be clear, ESHT aren’t alone within the NHS by overworking their staff to the point of exhaustion, seeing staff regularly miss or work through their breaks, find themselves starting early or finishing late doing unpaid overtime in order to meet patient needs and the trust’s requirements.

“But where ESHT seem to stand out is that they are, because of financial reasons, intending to cut 10 per cent of the workforce to reduce a deficit.

“It’s this radical plan and potential further revelations which the GMB would like to have sight of in the non-abridged public version of their five-year plan as we find ourselves unfortunately having to prepare to support our members and trust staff past their breaking point which this move would surely create.”

An ESHT spokesman said: “Our aim is to deliver safe, high quality services for patients that are both clinically and financially sustainable. We are planning for the future based on projected demand, the profile of our local population, national best practice and advances in technology.

“We are developing a plan to predict what our services will look like in five years’ time so that they meet the population’s needs.

“It is important that we involve members of staff and local partners in developing our plans and we regularly discuss emerging plans at our public board meeting.

“Our priorities are to become the best at managing frailty, ensure our community services are fully integrated and support us in continuing to provide a range of services and urgent care on both sites.

“We do not recognise the figures put forward by the GMB. Within the five-year strategy we have no plans to privatise or outsource services or make any staff redundant.”