Hospital jobs under threat?

Catering and cleaning staff at Sidmouth hospital could lose their jobs after the NHS trust started a consultation on ‘standardising the support functions’.

JOBS are under threat at Sidmouth Victoria Hospital because staff could be forced to double up roles in a bid to save cash.

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust this week began a consultation with catering, portering and cleaning workers to ‘improve efficiency while protecting front-line services at a time of tight public spending’.

If proposals are pursued, the merging of the ‘hotel-service’ jobs would be introduced at the All Saints Road site.

Workers would be trained to be multi-skilled in cleaning and infection control, as well as portering and catering.

Sidmouth currently has 23 staff that could be affected if the new regime is introduced.

The consultation is being rolled out across the NHS trust’s East Devon community hospitals, where the total number of posts affected is 80.

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Nineteen of those are in Ottery St Mary.

The NHS trust said it would ‘ensure’ standards for patients would remain high if redundancies were made.

All hotel services staff based at the community hospital will be involved in the consultation period, which began on Monday and lasts for 60 days.

Staff will be invited to personal meetings with managers, supported by their union representative.

Jac Kelly, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust chief executive, said: “We are confident that, by engaging with staff from the beginning and listening to their career aspirations, we can minimise any redundancies and offer new opportunities for staff.

“We have been filling vacancies with fixed-term contracts for some months to protect the employment of those staff who have been with us for a long time.”

The trust said the same consultation carried out at its North Devon community hospitals in 2008 maintained excellent or good ratings during industry inspections.

Adrian Rutter, chairman of Ottery Hospital League of Friends, said he hoped any changes would not affect patient care.

He said: “The residents feel very strongly about it. It may say NHS above the door, but as far as we’re concerned it is our hospital and we want the high quality of care to remain.

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