DOZENS of hospital workers have applied for voluntary redundancy after health chiefs announced job losses to cut costs.
As reported in the Echo, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust invited all staff to apply for severance, as it strives to save money in the next financial year.
Eighty-six workers applied for voluntary redundancy and hospital chiefs say they are now considering the applications.
A spokesman said: “City Hospitals is part of an ever changing health service environment which demands constant effort to ensure our service is as efficient as possible – this includes occasional restructuring, redesigning of jobs and redeployment or reductions in staff.
“The trust has to reduce its cost base by approximately six per cent in 2011-12 and the voluntary severance scheme is part of that process.”
City Hospitals Sunderland runs Sunderland Royal Hospital and Sunderland Eye Infirmary, as well as operating on a limited basis from Ryhope General Hospital and Monkwearmouth Hospital.
The redundancy scheme was revealed after Kate Griffin, director of human resources at the Trust, sent a memo to all staff in January explaining the need for job losses.
She said: “Given the difficult financial climate for the NHS over the coming years, the trust has advised trade union officials that we will launch a voluntary severance scheme (VSS).”
She continued: “The aim of the VSS is to achieve financial savings on a voluntary basis.
“While the scheme does not impose any restrictions as to which staff groups may apply, decisions about which applications will be accepted will be determined in the strategic interests of the Trust.”
It is not the first time in recent years City Hospitals Sunderland has had to cut jobs.
In 2006 the trust announced 500 jobs would be axed in a bid to save £20million. Hospital chiefs said the cuts then were to get out of debt and to cope with future pressures.
This time the Coalition Government has been blamed for job losses.
Helen Finkill, regional organiser for Unison with responsibility for Sunderland, said: “Like hospitals all over the country, although the Con-Dem Government said the NHS would be protected, they’re being asked to make cuts.
“The best way to do that is to make efficiency savings and use voluntary redundancies if absolutely necessary.”
Ms Finkill said the union had been involved in discussions with management when the severance scheme was announced, and has been awaiting the outcome.
She added: “We would hope the hospital would look favourably on voluntary redundancies before moving to the much more severe position of compulsory redundancies – although that’s something they haven’t begun to talk to us about.”