Trust plans to cut psychiatry jobs
28 November 2012
Doctors leaders have criticised plans for a mental healthcare trust to cut 502 jobs including those of almost 50 doctors over the next four years.
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust plans to cut 60 per cent of staff, associate specialist and specialty doctor grade posts and 30 per cent of consultant posts by 2016.
A 90-day consultation period on the new structure was announced in October and will continue until January.
The trust says the proposals were drawn up by clinical leaders and would make savings of 5 per cent a year, equating to £40m.
It has suggested reducing hospital admissions by offering alternatives including residential care beds, bed-and-breakfast places, foster families and beds provided by the third sector.
CC psychiatry subcommittee chair Shanu Datta called aspects of the proposals ‘startling’.
He said: ‘The consultation marks a worrying time for doctors who find their jobs at risk. The proposal to put mentally ill patients in bed-and-breakfast accommodation as an alternative to hospital admission is startling and one of a number of untested ideas.
‘I hope the trust and affected doctors can have a sensible dialogue about the essential contribution of psychiatrists in maintaining safe, high-quality services.’
The trust’s chief executive Aidan Thomas claimed the number of redundancies would be minimised.
‘We will see a reduction in the number of posts we have over the next four years, but because of careful vacancy management and natural turnover, as people leave or retire, we hope to bring this about without compulsory redundancies,’ he said.
However, BMA senior adviser Leela Pendle raised concerns about the viability of the plans.
She said: ‘The trust has not identified which groups of staff will be at risk at each stage of the reorganisation over the next four years. It is difficult to see how the proposed model of care will work as the trust is proposing to make a significant number of our members redundant.
‘We have been advised that the trust will be mitigating the redundancies. However, at this point in time, and the information I have been provided with, I am not convinced that this can be achieved.’