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Hospital "must look to cut costs"
SALISBURY District Hospital must look to cut costs in the face of competition from the private sector, according to interim chief executive Peter Hill.
While staff and unions protested against possible pay cuts outside the hospital’s annual general meeting held at Salisbury Arts Centre on Monday, Mr Hill said they had to look at all options to reduce spending.
Unions are angry the hospital has joined a consortium of 20 south west trusts that will look at ways to reduce the £113million wages bills, which accounts for 62 per cent of its budget.
But the packed meeting heard the hospital needs to save more than £9million a year and must consider all ways to cut costs.
“The challenges are huge and we risk that services traditionally offered by a local hospital will be provided by private sector companies with lower staff costs,” said Mr Hill.
“We have joined a consortium of 20 trusts to look at terms and conditions – including for hospital executives – and there were many others that wanted to join because they face similar pressures.
“We are not going to rush in and do something stupid; we are aware we need the quality staff we have to continue to offer the quality care we provide but in an affordable way and for precisely that reason we must explore these options.
“Nothing has been decided and staff will be consulted fully throughout the process.”
Finance director Malcolm Cassells added: “The past three years have been exceedingly challenging financially.
“Our surplus is too small to give real financial flexibility – it would be nice to move all departments out of the old buildings but the capital funding isn’t there.
“In order to sustain safe high quality services for patients we need to increase efficiency and this will include reducing staffing costs and ensuring in-patients are only in hospital as long as clinically necessary.”
But staff from a range of hospital departments protested outside the meeting as hospital executives, board members and the public arrived.
The demonstration was organised by public sector union Unison and the Royal College of Nursing, and follows a 1,500 signature petition opposing the trust’s involvement in the pay consortium handed to Mr Hill last week.
“We feel now is the time to make our voices heard,” said Mark Wareham from Unison.
“Hardworking staff are feeling concerned, undermined and frustrated. “They want answers and so far they haven’t got them.”