HEALTH chiefs at NHS Rotherham have revealed this week that they may be forced to make redundancies as part of the “major changes” to the national health service.
The news comes in a week when board members approved significant changes that spell the end for the town’s community health services in their existing form.
NHS Rotherham–the town’s primary care trust–has been given until 2013 by the Coalition Government to be wound down when responsibility for the £460 million annual budget will fall to GPs.
There are currently around 250 members of staff employed directly by NHS Rotherham.
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Kath Atkinson, director of strategic planning at NHS Rotherham, admitted this week that it would be wrong to suggest that redundancies would not be necessary in the future.
She said: “We have already started to reduce the number of employees through voluntary redundancies and a freeze on filling vacancies.
“As yet there have been no compulsory redundancies but it would be misleading to say that we are ruling that out.
“We have reduced the staffing by 30 posts, which is our target for this year, but by 2013 we will have had to reduce our management costs by around 45 per cent.”
NHS Rotherham’s £460 million budget pays for specialist care, GPs and the town’s drugs bill as well as providing £134 million to Rotherham General Hospital.
In 2013, NHS Rotherham will hand over the budget to GPs and the future of some staff members still hangs in the balance.
Kath said: “The GP commissioning body will be a statutory body, as are PCTs.
“There are currently 142 GPs in Rotherham and all will need to be part of the consortium.
“Over the next two years we will be working closely with GPs ready for the transfer.
“We hope that come 2013, PCT staff will be taken on by GPs or other national bodies introduced as part of the changes.”
This week, NHS Rotherham board members also approved plans to transfer staff from their provider arm—Rotherham Community Health Services—which will be scrapped in March next year.
Around 1,330 staff are currently employed by RCHS which covers a wide range of services including district nurses, physiotherapists and mental health workers. In total it costs £34 million a year to run.
Staff from the service will be transferred to work for organisations including Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and the Rotherham Hospice Trust.
Part of the proposals include the transferral of all staff who deliver end of life care, to be employed by The Rotherham Hospice Trust.
Kath said: “These proposals do signal major changes but they give us options we have never had before to improve services for patients and to ensure we achieve best value for money.
“We believe these decisions are right for patients and right for staff and that patients should see the benefits of these changes.”
The move is part of a national shake-up of services and was prompted by the previous Government.
Kath added: “The aim is to focus on commissioning so we can improve the services for patients.
“NHS Rotherham is a good commissioner and one of the best 20 in the country.
“We commission a wide range of services and we are working with colleagues to ensure that this continues.”
Staff from Rotherham Community Health Services have been advised that their pay and conditions will stay the same.
Kath added: “We have held full consultation with staff and have addressed the concerns that they raised about the restructure.”
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