BOSSES at Queen Alexandra Hospital say patient care will not suffer despite potential plans to axe up to 588 jobs.
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has admitted hundreds of posts could go at the Cosham hospital this year.
But the trust says of these posts, 141 are permanent staff and 447 are temporary agency workers.
Ursula Ward, chief executive of the hospital trust, discounted reports that up to 200 nursing posts could be affected, saying it was not possible to predict a figure yet. But she insisted that no job would go if the redundancy posed a risk to patient care.
She said: ‘We have to make savings of £30.5m this financial year so, several months ago, we were working out what contribution of the savings plan would come from staff reduction.
‘The 588 is the figure that was drawn up but the vast majority are temporary staff.
‘We have been using temporary staff more often recently because of the potential shift of work out of the hospital into the community. Until we’ve got more certainty on that we’ve chosen to employ temporary workforce in some areas. In the future when commissioners decide to refer fewer patients, then we can start to take out some of the temporary workforce.
‘We also have a redundancy programme under way at the moment, which is for up to 99 of the 141 substantive posts. We expect the remaining posts to come from natural wastage and staff turnover.
‘Every single post will be risk assessed and if we think there’s any risk to patient care or services, we will not do it.’
She added: ‘The more cost improvements we can deliver elsewhere, the more pressure it takes off what we have to take out of the workforce.’
A regional union leader said the potential job cuts could put patients and services at risk.
Mike Wilson, regional organiser of Unison, said: ‘It’s fair to say that these numbers are the worst case scenario. But it’s inevitable that this many will go and inevitably it will have an effect on patient care and services.’
But a QA union representative said such claims were ‘scaremongering’. Pat Darvill, the staff representative at the hospital and a union rep for midwives, said: ‘The trust has been open and honest about job cuts.
‘Obviously I don’t want to see redundancies but I also understand that this needs to happen. Reports that patients will suffer and hundreds of permanent staff are going are not true at all.
‘It’s scaremongering and will worry the public and staff.’
The News can reveal that of the 99 posts being axed at QA, 26 people have been accepted for voluntary redundancy. The trust is now looking at making up to 73 compulsory redundancies.