Fears voiced over NHS job losses

UP TO one in three NHS jobs in Oxfordshire could go if proposals to reduce workforce costs by £100m go ahead, union leaders have warned.

Unison says a document drawn up by the county’s primary trust reveals the extent of job cuts being planned over the next three to four years.

Cuts in workforce costs of £34m in both 2011/12 and 2012/13 and another £31.57m in 2013/14 will mean the loss of 4,250 full-time jobs, the health workers’ union calculates.

Unison yesterday organised a public protest against cuts and job losses in Oxford. An emergency branch meeting of Unison tonight in Oxford Town Hall will also see calls for a local campaign to save jobs Mark Ladbrooke, Unison convenor for NHS Oxfordshire, the county’s primary care trust, said: “We need to ask members if it’s time to show some industrial muscle.”

He said this could take some form of work-to-rule.

The document sparking the new jobs fears has been submitted to the South Central Strategic Health Authority. It provides an estimate of local workforce changes that could need to be made up to 2014.

The document was submitted by NHS Oxfordshire and will be considered by all the NHS trust boards across the county, including the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust, which runs the JR, Churchill and Horton.

Staff concerns raised by the publication of the document were compounded by news that thousands of NHS workers are being offered the chance to resign their jobs under a new voluntary severance package.

NHS Oxfordshire said union predictions of 4,250 job losses were wrong.

The PCT released a statement that said: “It is important to understand that workforce cost reductions are not solely met in reductions of numbers of staff. Much of these savings can be achieved through other means and not just by reductions in the number of staff.”

Dr Peter Skolar, chairman of Oxfordshire’s joint health overview and scrutiny committee, said job cuts would be necessary. He said: “They have to get rid of people because that is where they spend their money. We are hoping it will be done through management and not front-line services.”

Sir Jonathan Michael, chief executive of the ORH Trust, said: “Savings in workforce costs will include the management of vacancies, the reduced use of bank and agency staff, and asking people to work in new roles and areas — or work in different ways. The trust remains committed to avoiding compulsory redundancy wherever possible.”

Witney Gazette

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