By Ian Dipple 20/07 Updated: 20/07 16:57
HOSPITAL bosses have defended splashing out tens of thousands of pounds on a new management post at a time when they are trying to make millions in efficiency savings.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is in the process of recruiting a head of transformation and although the exact salary has not been confirmed at this stage, the successful applicant will be paid somewhere between £54,454 and £67,134.
It comes at a time when the Trust is already close to £2million in the red after the first two months of the financial year, has only identified £11million of the £15million it needs to make in efficiency savings this year and is seeking a £21million government loan to help pays its bills due to a liquidity problem caused by an historic debt of £18.3million.
At the same time it is also reviewing hospital services, which the Trust says is being driven by a squeeze on NHS funding coupled with rising demand which will lead to a £50million funding gap by 2015, and could see the Alexandra Hospital lose its A&E and maternity services.
But Chris Fearns, the Trust's director of strategic development, defended the move saying the new post had little to do with the Joint Services Review and was to do with meeting efficiency savings targets which totalled £30million.
"It is a role that has been created at the request of our clinicians and management team to ensure valuable patient-facing time is not lost. He or she will work closely with clinicians to allow them to keep their focus on patients and have the support they need to deliver changes which improve patient services and deliver the savings we must make in the coming years," she said.
"The role Head of Transformation exists within most public organisations, in one form and or another, and certainly in most trusts nationally. Non clinical senior management within Worcestershire Acute Hospitals makes up an extremely small percentage of our workforce and we are not unique in recruiting to such a position in the Midlands and we therefore need to pay the same rates as other Trusts under the NHS pay scale, Agenda for Change."
But Neal Stote, head of the Save the Alex campaign, said the money could be better spent on frontline services.
"They are bringing in somebody who doesn't know the set-up of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust and paying them a huge amount of money when they could get a finance director or medical director to go to frontline staff and say how can we be more efficient, not take money away from frontline services by getting a manager in to do another top down reorganisation," he said.
"Surely these efficiency savings should be fully implemented before they go along with models of future healthcare."
DOCTORS have been advised against displaying Save the Alex posters or petitions in their surgeries.
GP Jonathan Wells, head of the Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group, confirmed although GPs had not been banned from supporting the campaign, an e-mail had been sent asking them to consider the message being sent to the public.
He told the Standard: "If there are petitions going up in surgeries which would imply to patients their GPs are against the proposals then if we do decide to go to consultation on the reconfiguration that could send out a mixed message.
"They are also independent providers so it is up to GPs themselves to make the decision. I can't go round there and stop them putting it up.
"But we have asked them to refrain from promoting a particular position until the CCG and member practices have formed a consensus view which we can then put forward to the public."
A spokeswoman for the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said no advice had been sent out to GP surgeries by the Trust.
"GP practices are independent entities and have their own views on what healthcare promotional and advice material is appropriate to display."
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