Jobs may be at risk at mental health trust

THOUSANDS of staff who work with those suffering from mental health problems have been warned their jobs could be at risk if an NHS trust fails to get its spending under control.

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs substance misuse services, as well as mental health services across 1066 Country and the rest of the county, needs to save £13.6 million over the next year.

But in April the trust overspent by £450,000.

All 4,500 of Sussex Partnership’s workforce have been sent a letter from the trust’s finance director Sally Flint.

In it she said the organisation had to act as a ‘matter of urgency’ to stop ‘further deterioration’ of its financial position.

She said: “If we continue on this projection we will find ourselves in serious difficulties. We will have no other option than to take drastic measures by reducing our staffing numbers in order to protect front line services.”

In her weekly message to staff, Lisa Rodrigues, trust chief executive, said: “We have £13.6 million less with which to do a great deal more work than last year. For the first month of the financial year we have not fully got to grips with our tighter plan.

“As a result we are reporting a deficit of £300,000, which is £450,000 behind plan. Our people have done well, but we have to do much better.

“We have therefore made some difficult decisions. These include reducing use of bank staff, reviewing all vacancies and only filling those which are absolutely essential to patient safety, and imposing tight controls on all non-pay expenditure.

A trust spokesman said: “We have made no secret of the need to achieve tough cost savings this year in order to protect front line services.

“We are confident that we can achieve our target with the help of staff across the trust.

“At this early stage, it is important that we get back on track and the message from Sally Flint reminds all staff of this.”