SCORES of health service workers in South Tyneside have been told their jobs are on the line as hospital bosses gear up to make £10m worth of savings.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust has told its 440 administrative and clerical staff that between 80 and 100 posts will have to be axed by next summer.
The decision comes as health bosses face making £10m in savings by the end of this financial year as part of the Government’s Cost Improvement Programme. Unison bosses say they are hopeful they can keep compulsory redundancies to a minimum
Gemma Taylor, area organiser for the northern region, said: “We are fighting to protect those jobs at risk and we hope to meet the quota though natural wastages, like long-term sicknesses and voluntary redundancies.
“The Trust is not over-staffed, but we do understand that £10m in savings have to be made.”
She added: “At Unison, we believe that these are important ‘frontline’ jobs which keep the hospitals functioning and the people involved are not simply backroom staff.
“This is a worrying time for everyone concerned, especially since it will soon be Christmas.”
The job losses will come from staff at the Trust’s hospitals, including South Tyneside District and Palmer Community, and community health services in the borough, Gateshead and Sunderland.
The roles at risk are jobs such as general and medical secretaries, receptionists and departmental office staff.
It is understood letters will be sent to all the staff affected by December 20 outlining the proposals.
Marion Langley, joint secretary of Unison South Tyneside Health Branch, said: “As you can imagine, the news has come as a shock to staff.
“We have never faced this volume of redundancies before. Everyone is aware of all the austerity measures taking place at Trusts across the county, but we believe our’s has been one of the hardest hit.
“We will be working alongside the Trust, holding meetings and answering our members’ questions, plus we will be providing question and answer sheets.”
Ian Frame, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s executive director for personnel and development, said: “The Trust has a Cost Improvement Programme to meet of £10m in 2012/13.
“To facilitate this, we have a number of transformation programmes ongoing, one of which is a significant review of administrative and clerical functions.
“Through redesigning our models of working, we are aiming to reduce the number of administrative and clerical posts by 80 to 100.
“We are working closely with the staff and their trade union representatives to develop revised ways of working and to minimise any requirement for compulsory redundancy.
“We would hope to achieve this through natural wastage and a voluntary redundancy scheme.
“Only as a last resort will we consider a programme of compulsory redundancies.”