Mental Health Jobs To Go

Mental health staff have been invited to apply for voluntary redundancy in a bid to shed around 40 posts. A month-long staff consultation, which will be extended to include a staff council meeting, was agreed by the board of Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. Although the Trust has a history of financial stability, it needs to spend about £5m less than it expected to this year, after its commissioning Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) reduced the amount of money the Trust needs to provide services.

Executive director Paul Thain said: “This is a sad time for us and for the people, both staff and our service users, who will be affected by these redundancies. We have not had to go through this kind of consultation before but it is clear we cannot continue providing the same services with less money.

“However, we believe that we are still the best provider of specialist mental health services in our area, and our current focus on reducing costs will always be in the context of providing safe and responsive services.”

The Trust has had to make tough cost-reduction decisions in a bid to fill the gap, but has tried to reduce costs in areas which may not have a significant impact on patient care. It still has to release £3m from central schemes to break-even by April 2007.

Trust staff have also been responding to the board’s encouragement to make their own suggestions as to what further efficiencies in their areas might help the cost-cutting process.

Bosses hope the reduction in the number of available posts will be achieved through freezing vacancies and through not replacing staff who are leaving or retiring.