Senior nurses face redundancy threat at South Tyneside hospital

Trust unable to confirm numbers, but denies recent partnership aimed at integrating services is behind the decision

Matrons are among a number of senior nursing staff facing redundancy as part of a Tyneside hospital's restructuring process.

The band 7 and 8 workers at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust received confirmation of the redundancy threat this week as a 30-day consultation was launched.

Both the trust and the RCN were unable to confirm the number of staff involved, but the local Shields Gazette newspaper this week reported that up to 27 roles – including 14 senior posts – could be affected by the shake-up.

The trust has denied that its new alliance with City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, aimed at integrating services, has played any part in the decision.

A spokesperson for the RCN’s northern branch said the consultation ‘raises more questions than it answers’, adding that although the trust says potential redundancies will affect only management and not clinical roles, there are a number of senior nursing staff who undertake both.

The spokesperson said the proposed new structure showed nurses reporting to non-clinical managers, a responsibility that ‘in the past was undertaken by matrons’.

‘We have supported this alliance so far because we hoped back office savings would translate to more front line staff being hired. We hope that remains the ultimate outcome.’

Local campaigners have expressed fears that the South Shields hospital is set to be downgraded. South Tyneside Green Party member Shirley Ford said it will effectively become ‘a cottage hospital’.

The South Tyneside trust’s executive director for personnel and development Ian Frame said: ‘The restructuring is a purely internal matter for the trust and is in no way linked to our developing alliance with City Hospitals.

'We are continually looking for efficiencies and savings that will not impact in any way on our clinical services. If it is identified that jobs need to go, the trust would only consider compulsory redundancy as a last resort.'