200 posts now predicted to go at NHS Tayside to go : SNP government responsible, says MSP

15 October 2010

Marlyn Glen said that it is "the responsibility of the SNP Government to try to convince a skeptical public that the shedding of 200 posts at NHS Tayside can be achieved without damaging the quality of service for patients"

She was responding to a reply from NHS Tayside on the number of posts and reduction in spending that the health board is currently undertaking.

Ms. Glen commented,

"The shedding of 200 posts in NHS Tayside would represent a substantial loss to NHS staff, patients and the wider community.

"The SNP Government demanded that NHS Tayside find ‘savings’ of £30 million this year.

"It is now the responsibility of the SNP Government to persuade a skeptical public that this can be done without damaging the quality of the service for patients.

"The Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee report on health boards’ budgets, published in June 2010, expressed its concern on the effect of planned reductions in staff on the quality of service in the NHS through ‘vacancy management’.

" The report highlighted the problems created by filling of vacant posts by existing members of staff and its possible impact on the quality of service.

" It pointed out that the remaining staff ‘may be left to cope, with implications in terms of increased stress and sickness absence, damaging the quality of service.’ "

Ms. Glen said that she would be writing to NHS Tayside again on the reductions in spending and posts.

NHS Tayside informed Ms. Glen that over 105 whole time equivalent (WTE) nursing posts have been shed so far this year in the health board area.

Other posts that have been shed include :

Allied Health Professionals 6.7 WTE

Healthcare Scientists 7.9 WTE


Text of message from Marlyn Glen to NHS Tayside

"A media report indicates that NHS Tayside has achieved reductions in posts so far this year that are the equivalent of 164 WTE.

"Can you indicate how many such posts are distributed amongst the following groups :

Nursing and midwifery

Allied health professionals

Healthcare Scientists

"The report indicates that the final reduction may be around 200 WTE posts, rather than the original 495 envisaged.

"Can you provide me with details of the economies and efficiencies and their costs that have already been made and will still have to be made to ensure that the number of WTE posts shed is 200 and not 495 WTE posts by the end of the financial year.

e. g. any reduction in the number of acute inpatient-bed days.

"Can you inform me of what evidence-based practice exists within the health board to determine what effect the economies and efficiencies that are being made have on the quality of patient care in NHS Tayside."

Text of NHS Tayside reply to Marlyn Glen

"NHS Tayside, like all other responsible organisations has adopted an approach ensuring robust management systems are in place for careful local scrutiny and approval of any staff vacancies as they arise.

"This is appropriate for any body which utilises public funds.

"Where recruitment decisions are required, these are devolved to senior budget holders who, working closely with local clinical and management teams , remain best placed to form judgements as to the appropriateness of filling any vacancy consistent with our on-going programme of service redesign, and the more effective utilisation of existing staff through internal recruitment/redeployment.

"This helps ensure the continued development and progression of our existing workforce, matched both to current service need and to new roles emerging through service redesign.

"At all times all staffing decisions are taken against ensuring that our over-riding priorities of patient safety and quality of care are maintained.

"To best meet the needs of our current and future population demographics, NHS Tayside is delivering on a programme of modernisation.

"Modernisation requires us to examine the location and configuration of services on an ongoing basis to maximise the potential of the resources available to us.

"The National 6 Step Workforce Planning Model is fully utilised across NHS Tayside.

"This systematic approach to workforce planning ensures all influences and impacts of planning are accounted for, including education and training and recruitment and retention strategies."


Notes : The section of the Scottish Parliament’s Health & Sport Committee report ( June 2010 ) referred to above which deals with vacancies in the NHS reads :

"Boards regard moving on from cash-releasing efficiency savings to reducing wage costs as absolutely inevitable, and they are now planning for reductions in the number of staff posts, through ‘vacancy management’.

"The intent is that when staff leave or retire they will be replaced by existing staff.

"The Committee recognises that vacancy management can help to achieve efficiency savings by redeploying and retraining existing staff.

"Nevertheless, this raises a number of issues—

"If the staff member leaving is a specialist, the person reallocated to their post may need training and experience over several years to provide the same quality of service, and this assumes they have the same aptitude for the job

"If an existing staff member is recruited to fill the vacancy, they in turn leave a vacancy in their former role. Unless their former role was either entirely redundant or no longer requires the same level of skill, this will create problems and may damage the quality of service

"Existing staff may be left to cope, with implications in terms of increased stress and sickness absence, damaging the quality of service.

"There is a danger that, if NHS boards make changes without measuring the impact on quality, they may therefore conclude there was no evidence that quality was harmed, thus justifying similar changes of the same type."


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