S Tees NHS FOI response confirms: staff spread even more thinly

About three weeks ago, I wrote about South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust’s response to my Freedom of Information request concerning staffing plans. The Trust indicated that it was not planning a major staffing loss in most functions, but that this was a net effect of ‘efficiency’ losses in some areas and a take-up of ‘efficiencied’ staff in new functions/services that the Trust would be undertaking. There would be a significant loss (36.5 staff) from administrative and clerical functions. To see the full details, click on the link in the first line of this article.

As a result of the information received, I submitted two clarification requests regarding the type of jobs to be lost and the type of additional facilities to be operated. True to its very good form in terms of promptness, the Trust responded today as follows:

Response document – FOI request 1563

In your recent response to my FOI request 1558, you very kindly provided some excellent
information. I’d like clarification on a couple of points, please:

1) Please provide a breakdown of the functions to be cut under ‘Administrative & clerical (inc

2) Please let me have details of what kind of investments are planned that will generate the
additional posts in various functions.


1) The majority of the reductions in Admin & Clerical Staff (Including Managers) have been
identified from corporate areas and will be met through natural wastage. Management
restructures and administration reviews in clinical areas account for the remainder identified as
a result of planned retirements and anticipated resignations from staff again through natural

2) Investments include the development of specialist services such as Cancer, Neurosciences and
Cardiothoracics as well as developing Trauma services after being designated as a Level 1
Trauma Centre.

With no criticism at all of STHNHST, as I fully expect they’re making these decisions because they’re forced to by government pressure for ‘efficiency savings’, what the plans amount to is an even thinner spreading of already over-stretched staff resources to cover the provision of significant additional services.

A ‘Level 1 Trauma Centre’ provides care to severe trauma cases for a wide geographical area on the basis that such involved care isn’t financially viable for single-district areas. Similarly cancer and cardiothoracic care are intensive in terms of the level of attention and effort required to care for each patient (I’m not as familiar with neurosciences, and so can’t comment on that, except to note that the biggest positive change in staff numbers – to ‘healthcare scientists’ – is likely to be concentrated in this function).

And yet, these care-intensive, additional clinical services are going to be provided with barely any net increase in staff, meaning that staff who – as my posts on a day in the life of an NHS staff nurse attest – are already often at breaking point – are going to be forced to cope with an even greater workload to free resources for the new functions. It’s also worth noting that, while the majority of management losses are in what are described as ‘corporate’ areas, there are also ‘restructures and administration reviews in clinical areas’ – reducing staff performing these functions, which means that clinical staff will bear more administrative responsibility as well as clinical care.

Could things be worse? Certainly. We could have a cartel situation to drive down wages, like they’re facing in the South-West. But there’s still time for that, if the ‘South-West ‘pilot’ is allowed to succeed.

To me, these facts and figures demonstrate how the government is spreading NHS resources ever more thinly, without regard for patient welfare or that of NHS staff. The key question is, are they doing this deliberately, setting up more and more NHS Trusts and hospitals to fail, so that they can use ‘failure’ as an excuse for handing over more and more of the NHS to private providers?

I think there can really only be one answer. And when it’s the NHS, failure costs lives – the government is playing with people’s lives and wellbeing for political and ideological purposes.


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