600 jobs facing axe at financially strapped NHS trust

The financially-stretched NHS trust that looks after three major hospitals in Essex is reviewing where it could cut around 600 jobs amid “facing the most complex challenges”.

NHS England has decided to place the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which looks after Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals, in ‘national oversight framework 4’ due to its financial deficit, effectively placing it under special measures.

Its chief executive Matthew Hopkins said the trust will look closely at roles that have been vacant for some time to see whether they are “genuinely needed and represent value for money”.

A report to board members last month said the “financial plan was showing a deficit position and the two main areas of focus would be to reduce the cost of staff especially the temporary staff spend”.

It added the trust had been asked to pursue three new stretch schemes ultimately resulting in a £102.5m deficit.

Nigel Beverley, chairman of Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust board, told a meeting on April 25: “Just be reassured as a board this problem is being taken very seriously and we will find a resolution to it.”

More recently, in March, the trust delivered a £43.1m surplus, with a £29.7m deficit year to date.

Mr Hopkins said: “The Mid and South Essex healthcare system has a long history of financial difficulties and this year will be even more challenging for our trust.

“National oversight has increased and we are working as partners across the system to implement a range of measures to deliver financial recovery.

“As part of that work, we are looking at our staffing models with a view to reducing the overall headcount by 600. The number of posts and roles has grown by 2,000 in recent years, so we need to look closely at roles that have been vacant for some time to see whether they are genuinely needed and represent value for money.”

A report to the board said: “The approach has identified the trust as facing the most complex challenges, resulting in the act of acknowledging these challenges through the NOF4 process, with the aim of using the nationally mandated intensive and integrated improvement support provided to improve the financial position of the trust sustainably in the future.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter