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Health chiefs stockpile £5million for East Lancashire redundancies
HEALTH chiefs in East Lancashire have stockpiled more than £5million for redundancies and unions said up to 500 jobs could go.
Unions said the amount meant that around half of the entire workforce of the local primary care trusts, between 400 to 500 people, are set to lose their jobs in a planned shake-up — but the majority would be voluntary redundancies.
Bosses at NHS East Lanashire, have put aside £4.2million, and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Teaching Care Trust Plus have over £950,000 in reserves for planned redundancy payments, ready for the abolition of PCTs.
They will be replaced by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in April 2013, where GPs will be responsible for buying services for their patients.
Although the trusts refused to discuss the numbers of redundancies, Unison, which represents staff at both PCTs, said up to 500 people are set to lose their jobs.
The union said posts most likely to be affected are highly skilled, senior-graded practisioners who design and improve procedures for patients cared for at home and in the community.
Health campaigners and MPs have voiced concerns, saying cutting staff with decades of experience would mean services could ‘fall by the wayside’.
Tim Ellis, Unison’s regional officer in the north west, said: “About half of the staff will be removed by March 2013, but most of these will be voluntary redundancies, because the package is attractive, and so many people want to go.
“The problem is that we’ll lose people with decades of experience in things like rehabilitiation and care at home, at a time when the NHS is having to think about caring people in the community.”
Health campaigner and former Burnley MP, Peter Pike, said redundancies would be a “retrograde step”.
He said: “Key people have been leaving already in anticipation of the change over.
“I think it’s a retrograde step to lose so many people with decades of experience, and things that the PCTs provide, such as anti-smoking campaigns and healthy eating services, will begin to fall by the wayside.”
Health bosses at both PCTs said the reserves had been made as part of “sound financial practice”.
A spokesman for NHS East Lancashire said: “At this point in time there are no precise numbers against this money, hence this figure is just a contingency fund which is set aside in anticipation that it may be needed.”
NHS Blackburn with Darwen Teaching Care Trust Plus set aside £950,653 in 2011/12 to pay for downsizing in 2012/13.
At this point in time there are no precise numbers against this money.
Graham Burgess, chief executive of the Trust, said: “This is sound financial practice and will ensure we are prepared for any possible scenarios, and will not leave a legacy of debt to the Clinical Commissioning Group when they take over commissioning function.”