Resignation plan to save cash at cuts-hit Queen Alexandra Hospital

Flowers laid in tribute outside the multi-storey car park on Osborn Road, Fareham

Flowers for boy who died near car park

Staff at Portsmouth's Queen Alexandra Hospital are being offered the chance to resign as officials try to save thousands of pounds.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has invited all staff to apply for the 'mutually-agreed resignation' scheme, in which the trust can offer a payout to those who leave their job on voluntary terms.

Ursula Ward, chief executive of the hospital trust, said: 'The trust, along with many other parts of the NHS, is facing serious financial challenges and active steps are being taken to ensure our sustainability.

'Last year we placed ourselves in to a turnaround programme to identify efficiency savings. This included re-evaluating our operational activity and a redundancy programme in December, all of which achieved about 9m in savings.

'Whilst this went some way to helping our financial situation the trust is facing further financial constraints with a financial deficit this year predicted to be in the region of 37m. The local South Central health economy also continues to be challenged and savings of 1.3billion are being sought from across the region.

'These combining factors are forcing us to face some further tough challenges if we are to break even in the financial year 2010/11.

'In response to the fast- changing economic conditions the trust board has taken the decision to offer staff an opportunity to apply for the recently approved national scheme called 'Mutually-Agreed Resignation Scheme'.

About 70 per cent of the hospital trust's bill is spent on its workforce. The trust says it has no choice but to look at making savings in its pay bill, and in running the mutual resignation scheme, compulsory redundancies could be avoided.

Ms Ward said: 'This decision has not been taken lightly but is a step towards enabling our future for sustainable financial stability. The scheme has the backing of South Central Strategic Health Authority and the Department of Health who recognise that taking this action will ensure that our clinical services continue to be of a high standard but also remain affordable under very challenging circumstances.'

She added: 'Our number one priority is safeguarding patient care and the delivery of quality services and we remain committed to safeguarding our front line services.'

Staff can apply to the scheme until October 22.

Each application and financial package will be considered on an individual basis.