More than 200 staff at a Lancashire health organisation face losing their jobs as part of a mass redundancy exercise, it was revealed today.
Unions today hit out at revelations as many as 562 employees working in NHS commissioning services across Lancashire could see their jobs axed – with 203 of them being from the central Lancashire area alone.
The information came to light in a leaked letter seen by the Evening Post which lays out the effect of the re-organisation of primary care trusts arising from the Health and Social Care Act.
From April next year, primary care trusts will no longer exist and health chiefs for the NHS Lancashire Cluster have begun consulting with staff with a view to dismissing as redundant at least 20 workers at each establishment within 90 days or less.
NHS Central Lancashire, the PCT for Preston and surrounding areas, which currently has 588 employees, faces 203 possible redundancies.
Blackburn with Darwen NHS Teaching Care Trust Plus faces 90 redundancies from its 214 staff while NHS East Lancashire has 110 potential redundancies from 563 staff.
NHS Blackpool could see 32 of its 124 staff being made redundant and NHS North Lancashire could see 125 possible redundancies from 1126 staff.
Tim Ellis, regional organiser for health union UNISON, said: “This is catastrophic for the NHS.
“These are highly experienced and knowledgeable staff who are critical to the proper design and development of NHS services for patients.
“Their loss will mean worse services and worse planning of services.
“This is also a huge waste of money for the NHS.
“It is estimated that the cost of these redundancies will be around £15m across Lancashire and about £6m in central Lancashire alone.
“This is money which could have been put into improving NHS services.
“At a time of grave pressure in the NHS, it is of great concern that experienced NHS staff are being thrown on to the scrap heap.
“If there are to be redundancies, we want them to be voluntary and we want the NHS to work hard to retain these valuable staff.
“These people still have clinical skills and should be re-deployed back into frontline services.”
However, NHS bosses have defended the potential redundancy figures saying they relate to the number of employees who have no clear destination at this present time in other organisations which will take over the roles of PCTs in the future.
They claim that after a pooling and matching exercise has been carried out, it is expected that the number of redundancies will reduce significantly.
A spokesman for NHS Central Lancashire said: “NHS Lancashire has written to all trade unions to advise them of the potential collective redundancies within the NHS Lancashire Cluster which are likely to arise as a result of the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act and the fact that from April 2013, Primary Care Trusts will no longer exist.
“We have notified the unions that a formal staff consultation is now in place.
“We are mid-way through appointment processes to roles within the organisations which will exist beyond April 2013 and therefore, the figures which have so far been shared with our trade union colleagues do not reflect the final picture, as a significant number of appointments have yet to be made.
“We are following the national process in making appointments and expect that the numbers of projected redundancies shared so far with trade unions as part of our statutory duty to consult will therefore significantly reduce.
“It is too early in the process to define what the actual impact will be for each individual and each organisation.
“We anticipate that we will have a clearer understanding of the actual figures in December.