MORE than 190 health jobs have been cut at Sheffield’s adult hospitals in the last nine months to save £2.4 million, The Star has discovered.
Union representatives said the revelation calls in to doubt Government claims that frontline NHS services would not be affected by cutbacks, as Sheffield hospital bosses try to save £45m this year.
Managers at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospitals, insisted the cuts would not affect patients.
The numbers, published as part of The Star’s Your Right To Know campaign, reveal 191 positions have been axed since April 2011 at Sheffield’s five adult hospitals - the Northern General, Hallamshire, Weston Park, Jessop Wing and Charles Clifford - which employ a total of 15,000 people.
The reductions have hit medical, nursing and midwifery staff, clinical support workers, administrative and clerical workers, professional and technical staff and ancillary workers.
The numbers show 99 positions were reduced by not replacing retiring staff, with five voluntary redundancies, 74 staff who went through the NHS Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme, and 13 fixed-term contracts which were not renewed. There were no compulsory redundancies.
In the previous financial year, 2010/11, 31 posts were cut, saving £740,000, meaning 222 jobs have been axed at the hospitals since the Coalition Government came into power.
Hospital managers said staff numbers have actually risen seven per cent over the last five years, as the trust expanded its remit - but said they had ‘no choice’ but to try to cut their wage bill, which is their biggest cost.
Campaigners in Sheffield have warned about the impact of NHS cuts and separate proposals to reform the health service ever since the Conservative-Lib Dem alliance took Government, holding a series of demonstrations in the city.
Charlie Carruth, regional officer for Unison, said the staffing cut was bound to hit people visiting hospitals.
“This year patients in Sheffield won’t be getting the same services they got last year or the year before – people have to understand that quality care costs,” he said.
Kevin Austerberry, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing, said frontline jobs must be protected ‘at all costs’ to protect patients.
“The loss of 191 posts at the Sheffield Teaching Trust is part of a drive by the NHS to save £20 billion by 2015,” he said.
“Clearly the Government’s claim it would protect frontline services and ring-fence NHS budgets ring hollow. Frontline jobs must be protected at all costs.”
Joan Keane, regional health officer for GMB, added: “This figure of 191 – which we have not heard before now - may not seem many.
“But when you are down to minimum staffing levels already, reducing that number of staff creates a major problem.”
HEALTH bosses admitted Sheffield’s hospitals are having to cope with ‘significantly reduced funding’ - but insist patients will not be affected by the cuts.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, last month named the best trust in the North of England, has cut 222 staff positions since the Coalition Government came into power and is trying to find savings of £45 million this year.
Sir Andrew Cash, chief executive of the trust, said: “We are fortunate to have a good track record for financial performance but, like every other NHS organisation, we are not immune from the impact of the economic recession and we will have significantly reduced funding over the next four years.
“We have a budget of over £800m each year and need to make efficiency savings of circa £45m this year.
“However, we predicted this situation and so carefully planned to provide safe, good quality care but in the most efficient and innovative way.”
Prof Hilary Chapman, the trust’s chief nurse and chief operating officer, said: “Patients coming to our hospitals or being cared for in the community can be assured we will staff our wards and services to the appropriate levels and despite the tough economic circumstances we will continue to strive to provide high-quality care to our patients.
“We employ over 15,000 staff and over the last five years the number of staff has actually risen by almost seven per cent, providing additional jobs for local people.
“In the last 18 months we have employed 160 newly qualified nurses and we are continually recruiting services staff.
“However, in order to protect services and as many jobs as possible we have no choice but to explore ways of reducing the amount of money we spend on staffing where appropriate, because this is our biggest cost.
“This included not filling non-essential vacancies, reducing sickness and temporary staff costs. We have also allowed staff to apply for the national mutually agreed resignation scheme or to retire - but only after careful scrutiny to ensure there was not a detriment to service delivery of patient care.”