700 jobs to go at Leeds hospitals

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TWO hundred beds are to shut at Leeds hospitals as part of a £55m savings plan.

Up to nine wards will close and 700 jobs – including those of nurses and doctors – are being cut.

Around 580 of those posts are already vacant but 120 staff will have to be redeployed.

Bosses say redundancy may be an option for a “very small number” if a suitable job cannot be found.

The cuts have been revealed after directors at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust agreed to implement a major shake-up to make massive savings.

It must save £55.5m in the 12 months from April and then £40m each year afterwards as the NHS faces an unprecedented finance squeeze.

Hospitals chief executive Maggie Boyle said finding the savings had been “challenging” but the changes were “right for patients” and services would not be reduced.

“We are going to be closing some wards and we are doing that in the oldest part of our estate,” she said.

“We have got some buildings which are not fit for purpose and we’ve got some wards which are very small and inefficient.

“There will be no reduction in access for patients. People who need to come into hospital will be able to.”

She said they needed to become more efficient, improve productivity and boost quality so they were among the top hospital trusts in the country – which would enable them to see the same number of patients but with fewer beds.

Between six and nine wards will close, a total of around 200 beds.

Most of those to shut will be at Leeds General Infirmary, with two closing at St James’s Hospital. Details of exactly which will be affected have yet to be finalised.

The length of time patients are in hospital will be reduced by pre-operative assessments being carried out in clinics rather than patients having planned operations being admitted the day before surgery.

Some services which patients currently stay overnight for will instead be carried out as day cases or on an outpatient basis.

“This organisation has the potential to be one of the best in the country and this is us moving in that direction,” Miss Boyle added.

A freeze on pay increments for staff, which had been under consideration, will not take place this year.

Bobbie Chadwick, chairman of Staff Side which represents workers, said: “I get the sense there’s a sigh of relief, we were expecting the worst.

“It’s not going to be easy for staff, we are going to be working in different ways than we have ever done before, but I have every confidence in them.”

Lizzie Jones with fellow campaigners.

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