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Nursing posts under threat at Hinchingbrooke


Nearly 50 nursing posts could be axed at a trust taken over by the private sector earlier this year, Nursing Times has learnt.

Circle is considering cutting 46 nursing and healthcare assistant posts at Hinchingbrooke Healthcare Trust, after a review suggested it was more generously staffed than other hospitals.

The firm took over the struggling Cambridgeshire trust in February, making it the first NHS district general hospital to be managed by the private sector.

The move to cut posts has been condemned by the Royal College of Nursing, which criticised the independent provider for failing to consult with staff and unions.

One of Circle’s promises when it took over the franchise was to increase the time nurses spent with patients and to improve staff engagement.

Under its “partnership” business model – recently highlighted in the national media – staff are encouraged to take an “entrepreneurial” approach to improving the services they provide.

RCN Eastern regional director Karen Webb said staff had learnt of the recommendations on 3 August. “These plans have been drawn up without any consultation with staff or their representatives,” she said.

Ms Webb told Nursing Times the plan focused on an overlap between staff on early shifts and those coming in later in the day as an area to make potential savings. But she argued this was a busy time with major drugs rounds, staff carrying out complex care and opportunities for senior staff to talk to relatives and carers.

“We know that nurses are feeling extremely pushed. They are feeling let down. They were sold this hype that everything was going to be wonderful but it is not happening,” she said.

A trust spokeswoman said the cuts were currently only a recommendation from an external consultant – commissioned as part of its transformation programme – and no final decision had yet been taken.

“The review highlighted some opportunities for greater efficiency, and we’re currently considering the recommendations and drawing up new arrangements,” she said.

“As with all decisions taken under our partnership model, we’ll be consulting extensively on the new arrangements, and letting those closest to patients have their say on the best use of staff time in each area.”

She added: “Hinchingbrooke currently employs significant numbers of temporary nursing staff, so we expect to manage any transition in the nursing workforce through natural turnover.”

Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal reported earlier this month that Hinchingbrooke had made a £2.3m loss in the first three months of the financial year and was behind plan on cost improvement savings.

The 10-year deal struck between Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust and Circle means the trust needs surpluses of at least £70m over the next decade to pay off its £40m debts.


Readers' comments (15)

  • oh hang on a min...thought that this was the perfect hospital now according to the chief exec of circle

    was'nt he on the today programme bleating on about how great the private sector is at turning this hospital around...

    he even wants more of OUR hospitals to run!!!

    obviously the share holders arnt getting enough lets get rid of some nurses...

    what a surprise..even the hsj has an article about this hospital needing a 2 million pound loan in the near future

    yeh the private sector is great eh...its all about PROFIT....the tory nhs runs on and on

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  • probably so efficient they can run with less nurses!

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  • Oh how we chose to ignore what goes on elsewhere. A number of points to raise

    1) it is an external consultant recommendation
    2) nearly every NHS Trust are being asked to make cost savings (interestingly introduced by the last government)
    3) thousand's of jobs have gone across NHS Trusts already
    4) it is an employee share company so any 'profits' go to the staff
    5) I hope they don't fiddle with 'change over' time as this is the only real time when training and education can take place, it is as already stated a busy time, and at by Trust where 'long days' have become the norm it is not possible to do these things as the 'caverly' does not turn up for the late shift

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  • well,well,well. This isn't like the radio interview I heard with a Circle rep. Sounded glowing but after my experience working at a private hospital I am not surprised. It's never about the nurses or what they have to say. My previous place of employement used the acronym SUMO -Shut Up And Move On at any 'Customer Care' meetings with staff and, you guessed it, the 'customer' was always right.

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  • This is no surprise half expected it to happen earlier. This is only the beginning you will start noticing patients in need of long term care or needing very complicated medical input they will be referred on to a nhs hospital. People do not realise that in health the unexpected can happen unfortunately the private sector do not cater for this as they need to keep their profits up

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  • this idiotic govt carnt afford for this private hospital to needs to succeed so they can say "look privatisation is the way forward"

    so no doubt they will bail the company out and fiddle the books...

    when it comes to nhs this govt have no morals

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  • External consultants are paid in the millions for comming up with unrealistic suggestions. The information is mismanaged by Trust managers which upsets staff and reduces morale omongst the workforce. Managers say that they will engage in a full consultation with unions and staff but the damage has already been done. This process seems to happen time after time. Surely there must be a better way to avoid this shock treatment which is so disrespectful to hardworking staff.

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  • tinkerbell

    50, is that all? Have the cut throat, amoral, unethical, private sector management gone a bit soft?

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  • It is surprising that given the financial position that these health entrepreneurs in stead of sacking nurses find way of increasing the flow of patients and therefore income. The truth is now outing.

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  • income is the central focus and primary target of a health service and not patients or its staff?

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