QUEEN Alexandra Hospital has shed 700 jobs and shut 100 beds since the new building opened, it has been revealed.
The figures come against a backdrop of financial troubles at the hospital in Cosham as Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust admits it faces a £6m deficit at the end of this financial year.
Robert Toole, finance director of the hospital trust, said: ‘In the past 18 months Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has reduced its workforce by about 700 posts, which were mostly in non-clinical admin and clerical positions. The majority of these were lost through natural staff turnover combined with tight control of more costly temporary and agency staff whilst also restricting non-critical recruitment to the trust.’
Speaking about the bed reduction, Mr Toole said the trust has been able to shut beds through being more efficient – reviewing and treating patients more quickly, reducing the lengths of patients’ stays in hospital and ensuring they are discharged as soon as they are fit to be.
Mr Toole said it means the hospital no longer needs as many beds open.
‘This offers the trust the opportunity to open these beds at times of increased pressure to meet demand,’ he said. ‘For example, additional beds have been opened during the recent winter months when the hospital has been challenged with a high number of sick patients with flu.
‘Closing unused beds enables us to redeploy our nursing staff to areas of the hospital where they are most needed and reduces the number of temporary agency staff.’
Meanwhile the trust has moved to refute reports that it approached Southampton University Hospital NHS Trust to propose a potential merger.
The speculation came after the chairman of the trust, Professor David Rhind, wrote to the Department of Health to reinforce the trust’s commitment to become a foundation trust – free of government control.
In this, Professor Rhind mentioned the efforts the trust was making to reach foundation status – including looking at a merger of services.
But the hospital has clearly stated that this is not going to be pursued.
Mr Toole said: ‘As you would expect from a board, we have to consider all options to resolve the challenging financial situation that faces all NHS trusts. But merger is not currently being looked at, nor have there been any formal discussions.’