A large London acute trust is to cut more than 150 nursing posts over the next few months.
Barts Health NHS Trust is to reduce its establishment by a total of 220 whole time equivalent posts, of which 161 are nursing posts.
A further 472 registered nursing and healthcare assistant posts will be down banded from band 6 to 5 and from band 3 to 2.
The trust has rowed back slightly from its original plans, which included shedding a total of 323 posts.
Barts Health, which has long-standing financial problems, has argued that the workforce changes are needed in order for it to afford the introduction of a 1:7 average staffing ratio across non-specialist adult areas.
It has cited a nursing skill mix review for the trust, carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which indicated that it had a higher than average proportion of band 6 and band 3 nursing staff.
In a document detailing the consultation outcome, the trust said: “We hope to avoid any redundancy dismissals but acknowledge it is a possibility.
“No dismissals will occur as a result of this consultation before approximately 1st December 2013 at the earliest.”
But the Royal College of Nursing said staff remained “angry, distressed and demoralised” by the cuts in the run up to Christmas.
Bernell Bussue, RCN London’s regional director, said: “The cuts at Barts are being rushed through to save as much money as possible, and the result is that patients will be put at risk.
“Barts has already been criticised by the Care Quality Commission for being short staffed. Mass job cuts are only going to make this situation worse.”
Barts Health Trust was formed from a merger of Barts and the London, Whipps Cross University Hospital and Newham University Hospital trusts in April 2012.
In a statement, the trust said it would “not compromise the safety of its patients under any circumstances” and that it would be staffing above the levels recommended by the RCN and the Safe Staffing Alliance, both of which have called for a minimum ratio of 1:8.
It said: “The changes - designed to improve efficiency and standardise staffing levels across the trust following our merger last year - were approved by our senior doctors and nurses only once they were fully satisfied that they would not adversely affect our patients’ safety in any way.”
The statement added: “We are doing everything possible to support our staff during what is understandably an anxious and unsettling time. Every effort will be made to re-deploy staff, whose position is lost, to vacant roles.
“Where an individual’s pay band is reduced, because this is appropriate to the role they perform, or as an alternative to redundancy, they will have their pay protected, allowing them time to seek another role at their original banding and avoid a financial detriment.”
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