TAXPAYERS paid out £42m on exit deals for NHS staff in Yorkshire last year amid signs deepening financial pressures are forcing health chiefs to axe hundreds of jobs.
The Yorkshire Post can reveal NHS trusts providing frontline care for patients from the region bore the brunt of 1,135 redundancies and other exits in 2011-12.
But the full impact ran far deeper as official figures show 3,550 fewer people worked in Yorkshire’s health service in April than 12 months before including nearly 900 nurses, midwives and health visitors. By July, 200 more nurses had left, taking the total to 1,100.
Unions last night warned the scale of the jobs cull would worsen amid claims 750 jobs face the axe at Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust by 2015 under a £50m efficiency programme, prompting accusations cuts are hitting frontline services despite pledges by Ministers they would be protected in their £20bn NHS savings drive.
The biggest job losses in 2011-12 were at the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole trust which shed 174 staff at a cost of £7.4m. The Airedale NHS trust saw 102 staff depart in exit deals which cost £3.9m, while Rotherham’s bill totalled £3.4m as it axed 107 staff.
Overall, exit programmes at NHS trusts providing frontline care to people from Yorkshire saw 870 staff go at a cost of £28.9m – nearly double the 465 who departed in 2010-11. Some 270 jobs went at a cost of £13.1m from Yorkshire’s 15 primary care trusts and the regional health authority, significantly down on the 700 axed the previous year at a cost of £26.1m. The region’s NHS workforce stood at 129,300 in April, down 2.6 per cent on a year previously, with 800 fewer clinically-qualified staff.
Unison said many more NHS trusts were struggling, warning nurses caring for elderly patients and physiotherapists would lose their jobs in Rotherham.
The head of health for Unison in Yorkshire, Pam Johnson, said: “This is terrible news for patients and for the local community who will lose vital health services. Local people and dedicated NHS staff are paying the price for failings on behalf of senior managers in Rotherham and for the pressure the government has put on NHS budgets. We are calling on the hospital to think again, explore other options and for the government to step to protect jobs and services if necessary.”
The Royal College of Nursing’s regional director, Kevin Austerberry, added: “I am alarmed by the number of nursing posts that have been stripped from the NHS. You simply can’t take out these posts without affecting patient care. We know the NHS has been told to make £20bn savings but its ‘slash and burn’ approach is storing up long-term problems.”
Rotherham chief executive Brian James said: “Our staff are our biggest asset but also our biggest cost. We are exploring how best to manage and substantially reduce our costs whilst ensuring we continue to provide quality healthcare and fulfil our commitment to the people of Rotherham to build a healthier future together.”
The Department of Health said: “We are increasing funding for the NHS by £12.5bn until 2015, but we know that the NHS can, and must be, more efficient to meet the pressures of an ageing population and the rising costs of drugs and treatments. Hospitals should be looking at ways to be more efficient, but that doesn’t mean lowering the quality of care – it means getting the best services to meet patients’ needs and the best value for every pound the NHS spends.”
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