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Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

All staff offered redundancy by Kent trust

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has taken the drastic step of offering all its staff voluntary redundancy as it attempts to save £15m-£20m.

The trust told Nursing Times it had written to all staff asking them to consider whether they wished to apply for voluntary severance. 

They have until 5 October to apply for redundancy, though the trust said it was unlikely to accept applications from frontline clinical staff.

In a statement, the trust said: “No offers of severance were, or have since been, made directly to any member of staff.

“The priority for the trust remains an absolute commitment to the quality of patient care, and given this, it is unlikely that applications from staff who directly care for patients will be accepted.”

It added: “The trust agreed this approach with our trade unions, and our scheme reflects similar schemes nationally.”

The trust also rejected the idea that the move represented an attempt to “cull” its 4,500 staff.

It said: “The trust values all staff, however, the offer of a voluntary severance package may appeal to some members of staff who were considering a career change or may wish to have a break from working. 

“It is each and every member of staff’s personal choice as to whether or not they apply.”

Steve Brazier, Unison head of Health in the South East, said: “Maidstone and Tonbridge NHS Trust will not be the first, or last hospital to have to take such worrying steps. Sadly, this is the least worst option available, and has been negotiated to avoid compulsory redundancies.

“The trust has to find more than £20m of savings this year. Under the terms of a £225m deal for a new hospital which opened last year, PFI debt has to be paid before the trust spends any money on patient care or on staff. Meanwhile, the demand for acute care keeps on rising.”

He added: “We will work with the trust to minimise the impact on patients and to support staff to avoid them being required to cover for the work of colleagues who are made redundant.”

Sarah Dodsworth, the Royal College of Nursing’s operational manager for the South East, said: “Staff are understandably feeling under pressure at the moment.

“This is a drastic measure by the trust and only marginally better than compulsory redundancies, which the hospital considered their only other option. We are working with our members on this issue and will be supporting any individuals accordingly.”

She added: “We are also concerned about the ongoing affect on team morale and will be working with the Trust to make sure that our members are fully supported whatever they decide. It is hard to believe that that such drastic measures would not adversely affect patient care.”

The trust’s new Tunbridge Wells Hospital opened at Pembury last year with the last patients moving from the old Kent and Sussex Hospital in September. The Pembury site has more than 500 beds and was built via a 30 year private finance initiative.

Readers' comments (6)

  • welcome to your tory nhs, private companies will be circling as usual

    another nail in the nhs coffin well done cameron!!

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  • Hmmm...so they offer voluntary redundancy to all staff but then say they won't accept any front-line staff who ask for it? Is this the kind of logic that NHS Trusts are run by now? Offer something while saying you won't accept a positive response. This would be the same as me going into the shop, the shopkeeper offering me a product for a price then, when I try to pay him, he tells me he won't sell it to me! Seriously? And, of course, every time the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust spouts "Patient Safety", I have to stop myself from laughing at their arrogance, given this was a Trust that was quite happy to risk patients lives with an outbreak of C.Diff that they just sat and watched get worse instead of taking action.
    The M&TW Trust have made themselves look stupid this time...last time, it was callous, incompetent dirty and lethal. What is next for this Trust? I for one will never believe a word they say and will pray that I never have to be admitted to one of their hospitals (or my family which is hard given I have family in TW).

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  • michael stone

    nursemorph | 25-Sep-2012 1:57 pm

    The goverment keeps saying 'we will protect front-line jobs', I seem to remember.

    Perhaps the plan is for the entire Board to resign with all bonuses fully paid-up, then for the Trust to collapse into total chaos and insolvency, a new private company to be invited to take over, and the resigned Board members to be re-hired (on better pay) by the private company to sort out the problems (they will be the experts, in what the problems are - surely ?).

    Or, perhaps I'm in a cynical mood, today ?

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  • Front-line here. I already requested it and was refused verbally before I could even submit the paperwork!

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  • As someone who trained in Maidstone many years ago this is deeply worrying and follows hard on the heels of the problems around the state of hygiene at the Maidstone site which made national headlines a couple of years or so back. The Maidstone DGH was built before the PFI projects kicked off and ironically was built under the auspices of the then Tory Government - possibly whilst Thatcher was still around. How ironic is that?

    Anyone who believes this is anything but a cynical exercise in cost cutting and workforce restructure needs their head testing at the conveniently located psych wing next door - many happy days spent there :)

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  • tinkerbell

    coming to a trust near you soon. the beatings will continue until morale improves. the hits just keep on coming. It's not just the badgers being culled. We're all to become charity cases. Unemployment rises. Roll up, roll up, rollover. Private companies profits spiral.

    It is starting to soud like Richard Burtons opening to 'War of the Worlds'.

    They are evil and they are programmed to destroy us. Have a nice day.

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