Hundreds of staff offered voluntary redundancy at New QEII and Lister Hospital, leaked document reveals

PUBLISHED: 13:12 05 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:21 06 October 2017

The New QEII Hospital in WGC.

The New QEII Hospital in WGC.

Archant

East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust has sparked fear among its staff after around 900 people were offered the chance to apply for voluntary redundancy, a leaked document has revealed.

Lister Hospital in Stevenage. Picture: Danny LooLister Hospital in Stevenage. Picture: Danny Loo

The trust, which includes WGC’s New QEII and Lister Hospital in Stevenage, said in an email that it had launched a Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme (MARS) to help tackle “financial challenges”.

As part of the “current round” of the programme, ENHT is offering staff from corporate functions, non-ward and clinical administration across its four hospitals the chance to apply.

The letter reads: “The overall effect will be a reduction in the number of posts across some teams which includes corporate areas; this will be possible through helping teams to become more efficient.

“As with the Our Changing Hospitals programme completed in 2015, the aim is to achieve this reduction, wherever possible, by not filling vacancies and using the trust’s natural staff turnover rate.”

An ENHT spokesman said: “Around 900 staff, who have non-direct patient care roles, are eligible to apply for the MARS scheme.

“The experience of other NHS trusts tells us that around five per cent of them will apply.

“Following this, there is a three-tier selection process to be followed and we estimate that around 40 applications will be approved.”

The announcement left employees fearing for their futures, with one telling this paper that although it is only voluntary, the next logical step should insufficient numbers accept is job cuts.

“We are very nervous,” she said. “Some people were scared, some were saying we are not going to take it, others were saying they will because there might be something behind it.”

She also said that slashing the number of staff would inevitably impact front-line services, which are already at breaking point.

However, the trust spokesman stressed that it expects less than one per cent of its overall workforce to leave through the programme.

He added: “The MARS scheme is a voluntary NHS resignation programme used across many NHS trusts.

“It is not a redundancy programme, but rather invites staff who may be thinking about leaving their job to do so and receive a small payment.

“Applications for the MARS scheme will only be accepted from staff where there would be no direct impact on patient care if an individual were to leave.

“We are only offering it to staff who do not care for patients directly and we are working with teams to make sure they fully understand the programme.”

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