Hospital workforce is set to shrink by over 20 per cent

PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 November 2010

View of the Front of Weston General Hospital.; 13-12-06

View of the Front of Weston General Hospital.; 13-12-06

Copyright Archant Ltd

HUNDREDS fewer staff could be 
working at Weston General Hospital in just four years' time, as bosses attempt to balance the books.

A squeeze in Government public spending and increase in costs of treatment and equipment has led to a rethink of staffing models by hospital chiefs.

Workforce director Alison Kingscott told the Mercury this week that this could mean the workforce is reduced by more than 20 per cent by 2014.

But she said cuts at this stage were only likely through people ‘naturally’ leaving the trust, and not redundancies.

Mrs Kingscott said: “Against the economic climate we have to try to make sure our workforce is fit for the future, and that does mean there is likely to be a reduction in workforce numbers.

“At the moment we think it is going to be a reduction in excess of 20 per cent, but we are currently only looking to mitigate that by natural wastage, when people retire or move on elsewhere.

“The next stage would be if that does not mitigate, what else can we do?”

The hospital has already begun reducing staff numbers, with 45 fewer people employed from April to September, leaving 2,144 on the payroll. The number of appointments has also dropped, with 159 new starters in September compared to 319 the year before.

The figures come in the same week that union chiefs claim public health workers are coming under severe pressure because of staff shortages.

Unison said a survey of 8,000 workers showed hospitals were freezing recruitment and cutting posts.

Mrs Kingscott said: “Government savings, combined with the increased costs of drugs and equipment costs, mean we have to deliver the same service with less money.

“This requires us to look hard for efficiencies in the service and improve productivity, where we can do more for less at the same quality.”

Yet despite the planned savings, the hospital is still overspending against its 
staffing budget.

A total of £1,136,000 was overspent from April to September, including £602,000 in the emergency department.

Finance bosses say this is down to employing agency staff and paying employee overtime.

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