HUNDREDS of jobs are to be axed and vital services threatened after health bosses were forced to slash £40m off their budget due to Government cuts.
And in another devastating blow – chiefs revealed that the University Hospital of Hartlepool WILL close. Services will either be transferred to a proposed £300m hospital at Wynyard or be amalgamated at the University Hospital of North Tees.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust announced that it has to slash £40m off its budget over the next three years and said that every service and aspect of healthcare will come under scrutiny.
Union bosses said they were “devastated” by the cost-cutting announcement which they say has left workers angry and upset.
Trust staff were given the grim news in a five-page letter from trust chief executive Alan Foster.
The cuts will see jobs from all areas of healthcare lost and services possibly, axed, amalgamated or transferred.
As part of the £40m sweeping review, every money-saving possibility will be explored but the trust admits that more than 70 per cent of its £265m annual budget goes on staff wages.
Mr Foster said it was impossible to give exact figures on job losses but said it would be in the hundreds.
He said: “We can’t do what we are trying to do and keep the same number of jobs.
“I can’t say exactly how many jobs will be lost but it will be hundreds.
“What I want to try and do is minimise that loss.”
Mr Foster said every avenue will be explored and every service looked at as the trust strove to deliver quality healthcare in the face of ever-increasing Government pressure.
Government policy is now to invest in preventative care and early intervention rather than hospitals.
He added: “We have been through tough financial times before and come through them successfully. However, we have never tackled something of this scale and we know some very difficult decisions will need to be taken.”
Mike Hill, regional organiser for Unison (pictured above) said: “The union is extremely concerned by this news, which goes unprecedented in the history of the trust.
“As always we will approach these cuts in a measured and balanced way but our members are naturally concerned, angry and upset about the prospect of further job losses, stretched services and the likelihood of changed working practices.
“Sadly this is further evidence of the impact of the Government’s cuts agenda on health and public services, which flies in the face of the Prime Ministers pledge to protect the NHS.”
The devastating news was in stark contrast to a morale-boosting announcement yesterday that hundreds of jobs could be coming to Hartlepool as part of a Government initiative to stimulate growth.