Nottingham hospital staff 'can't sleep' due to redundancy risk after huge budget blackhole revealed

A general view of the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham.
Finance staff members have spoken out against the plans -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

Staff at Nottingham's hospitals are "absolutely devastated" and struggling to sleep after being told about possible job cuts. Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) Trust, which runs Queen's Medical Centre and City Hospital, has put a number of staff at risk of redundancy after its potential £69 million budget gap was revealed in April.

NUH made an agreement with NHS England to reduce its costs after the national healthcare body said its "deteriorating financial position" could mean NUH is breaching the terms of its licence. Nottinghamshire Live has now been told large chunks of NUH's finance department will be outsourced to a private provider, starting from October, which would cast doubt over the future of around 80 workers.

Unison, which represents thousands of workers at the trust, said this mainly consisted of low-paid admin staff. One member of staff who has been in the finance department for decades said she and colleagues were only told about possible job cuts last week.

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"It was dumped on us at the last minute. They called us into a meeting on April 25 and we knew it was something significant," said the employee who wished to remain anonymous.

“They told us three options had been looked at and they had come up with the option of outsourcing us. [None of the questions] were answered.

“There’s no transparency. Staff don’t know what’s going to happen to them. It’s a massive kick in the teeth, I have dedicated myself to that role and taken it very seriously.

"Everyone is scared, everyone who works with me is frightened they’re going to lose their jobs. I feel really let down."

Payroll and pension services will be outsourced to NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) by October 1, Nottinghamshire Live understands. The SBS is jointly-run by the Department of Health and French IT services company Sopra Steria.

The rest will be transferred by April next year, including staff who manage the trust’s incoming and outgoing payments, its taxation department, systems department and procurement team. NUH said no clinical roles were at risk of redundancy, but staff said changes to its finance team could have a knock-on effect on patient care.

“People think it doesn’t affect patients but it really does," continued the long-serving finance worker. "If invoices aren’t paid our equipment can’t be delivered, we can’t feed our patients, we can’t get linen for beds."

Another finance worker, who also did not wish to be named, added: "We're very upset and don't know what to do. I don't know whether to look for another job.

"I put a lot of hours into this job, it's my life. Many people dedicate their own time to make this place better and they know that."

Rachel Perry-Doyle, regional organiser at Unison, said plans to outsource finance were "short-sighted" and "knee-jerk" decisions. “The finance people are the very people who could help get them out of that hole but they’re throwing them under the bus," she said.

"Giving them to an outsourced company, which is privatisation by the back door, is not taking control of the finances. It’s handing over that power to a company that they don’t have control over.

“Staff are absolutely devastated, we’re in a cost of living crisis. We’ve got people in this department who are just above minimum wage. They can’t afford to lose their jobs.

“Where are these people going to go? We’ve got people saying they're not sleeping and in tears while at the office."

Paul Matthew, chief financial officer at NUH, said: “We have a duty to reduce the deficit in our finances, and have a plan that will address how we achieve that over the next two years across the whole organisation.

“We will be formally consulting with some colleagues in the finance and procurement directorate who may be affected by proposed changes, and we have been liaising with colleagues in these teams and with union representatives as part of this process. We know that this will be a challenging period and are committed to communicating openly and honestly with these teams and supporting them through this time.”