Trust wants to reduce its staff

HOSPITAL staff are being asked to consider resigning voluntarily as NHS bosses battle to save millions of pounds and rein in spending.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT), which runs the Conquest and Eastbourne’s DGH, has started a programme called the Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme (MARS).

It is being offered to selected groups of staff, namely administrative and clerical workers, managerial staff and senior clinical workers. But front-line staff, such as nurses, are not affected.

The hospital trust has been trying to rein in on its spending and reduce its debts since last April, when the current financial year started.

It is expected the organisation will be around £19 million in the red by March 31.

But it could slip further in debt as the NHS trust already faces heavy fines for not meeting its targets in controlling the number of cases of the bug Clostridium Difficile (C-diff) in wards.

It had a target of 25 C-diff cases for the current year but by December there had been 30, meaning ESHT will be fined £44,000 for each of the five breaches, totalling £220,000.

There were also 10 mixed sex accommodation breaches in September. For each breach the trust is fined £250.

Since last April the organisation has received £24 million in loans from the Government’s Department of Health to help clear debts, pay off creditors and help balance the books.

ESHT has taken several steps in a bid to cut back on spending, such as closing a ward at Eastbourne DGH and cutting back on using expensive agency staff.

In a message to staff, the trust’s chief executive Darren Grayson, said: “MARS is a scheme under which an individual employee, in agreement with the trust as their employer, chooses to leave employment in return for a severance payment. It is a scheme used widely throughout the NHS and is designed to provide flexibility and support to NHS trusts in periods of rapid change and re-design. MARS is not a redundancy or a voluntary redundancy.”

Simon Purkiss, trust spokesman, said: “The trust needs to reduce its workforce costs and this scheme helps with an ‘early release’ arrangement to enable staff to apply for the opportunity to be released from their contract of employment in return for a voluntary severance payment.”