Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) will overspend on compulsory and voluntary redundancies by a staggering 52.1% this financial year. That means it has spent £2.5 million pounds more than it has in its budget on redundancies. £2.5 million is enough to pay for an additional ten hospital beds for two years or safely-staffed community teams providing quality services. Redundancies are totally within the control of NSFT – there is no excuse for this level of incompetence. It represents a catastrophic failure of operational management, workforce management, financial controls, corporate governance and oversight by the NSFT Board, Monitor, the CCGs and local MPs, including two Health Ministers, Norman Lamb and Dan Poulter. Staff morale is so low that when NSFT realised its appalling errors and asked staff who had been promised voluntary redundancy to stay, they refused, desperate to leave an organisation which has treated them with contempt. Of course, NSFT didn’t tell staff or the public the real reason for the U-Turn and can’t legally withdraw the voluntary redundancies as it told the departing staff not to apply for their own jobs in the ‘radical redesign’.
But it is actually worse even than this. NSFT hoped to be able to sweep this disaster under the carpet and make service users and carers pay the price of its incompetence. NSFT is intending to cut an additional £2.5 million from next year’s budget to pay for this fiasco – how many beds, how many care co-ordinators, how many doctors, how many nurses, how many social workers will be lost? How many people will go unsupported in the community to pay for this? Meanwhile, the Workforce and Organisation Development Director and the Head of HR keep their personal assistants and near £100,000 p.a. salaries and behave as though nothing has happened. When campaigners yesterday told the Workforce and Organisation Development Director that we knew the truth at County Hall, she just walked off without saying a word.
Yet, it is worse still. Many of these voluntary redundancy staff are currently doing important work and will leave before April 2014. NSFT is currently either trying to recruit replacements or will be providing a much worse, probably unsafe, service when they leave. NSFT will spend £7.3 million this year on redundancies, paying many experienced staff nearly two years’ salary not to do jobs which need doing and spending around £1.5 million per month on temporary staff. NSFT might as well have burnt £7.3 million of taxpayer’s money in the Hellesdon Hospital car park. Yet, all the acting Chief Executive, himself a qualified accountant, can say, when questioned about the redundancy programme by the Norfolk County Council Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee, is ‘I don’t recognise those figures’ and fail to supply the real ones. If he won’t, this campaign will.
Emma Corlett, of Unison and a member of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk & Suffolk, said:
“UNISON warned the NSFT Board in September 2013 that the 79 voluntary redundancies should not be offered as there was no genuine redundancy situation. Our warning was not heeded and now we are paying to lose staff we desperately need. It is appalling that the bad decisions have self-inflicted even greater financial damage on top of the Government cuts. People who rely on the services our members provide cannot be the ones who pay the price. Staff, already struggling to meet demand, are wondering how on earth they can provide the quality care needed as they watch their colleagues prepare to leave.”
NSFT Comms was given more than three hours’ notice of this statement and invited to respond but failed to do so.