Published: 7th April, 2011
by TOM FOOT
THE top boss of the Royal Free has insisted “there is no cash crisis” at the Hampstead hospital despite yesterday (Wednesday) announcing 450 posts will be axed .
Chief executive David Sloman said the cuts – including 107 frontline nursing positions – were part of a “sensible and thought-through” plan to save £40million this year.
He said: “There is definitely no cash crisis at the Royal Free. There will be no impact on quality.”
Those claims have been challenged by union chiefs and the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Dr Peter Carter, who said the move was illogical and would destroy morale.
Dr Carter told the New Journal: “Cutting 107 nursing posts from the Royal Free is just another example of the rash, short-term thinking that is jeopardising care across the NHS and destroying morale among staff. It is extremely difficult to believe that a single Trust can shed 450 posts and maintain the same high level of patient care.”
The savings plan has been triggered by a double whammy blow from central government which has taken a 10th of the Royal Free’s budget away and demanded bosses balance the books before it can apply to become an independently run Foundation Trust.
Royal Free Unison rep Jim Mansfield said the job cuts “gave a lie” to pre-election pledges that the NHS frontline would be protected and warned that a further £30m savings plan was already in the pipeline for 2012.
He added: “Both parties are working to avoid redundancies. But whichever way you look at it we are still talking about fewer people working in the NHS.”
Of the 450 total, 16 doctors’ posts, 107 nursing posts, 107 non-clinical and managerial posts, and 23 therapy posts have been agreed with 137 more coming from axing agency staff, “natural wastage” and closing job vacancies at the hospital.
When the New Journal reported that more than 400 posts were under threat in February last year, Mr Sloman wrote to the paper arguing the figure was more like 180 and criticising “inaccurate” reporting.
He held a series of “big” face-to-face meetings with staff yesterday explaining the decision to axe 450 posts.
Mr Sloman added: “The Royal Free is not immune to the financial pressures facing the NHS. Clearly it is going to be difficult, but by working together I am confident that we can achieve our savings while continuing to provide excellent standards of care.”