Hospital bosses have begun planning a scheme to shed jobs, the Examiner can reveal.

A large-scale voluntary redundancy programme is being proposed for all workers at Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust.

An exact number of job losses has not been stated but documents written earlier this year outlined an ambition to cut more than 400 roles by 2024.

Trade union representatives were approached about the plan earlier this week with a view to getting workers out of the door by February.

The Trust confirmed it had applied for permission to open voluntary redundancy for all of its 6,000 workers.

Permission has been sought from the Government who are thought will make a decision before the Christmas break.

Julie Hull, Executive Director of Workforce and Organisational Development said: “The Trust currently faces a number of significant challenges – service, structural and financial - which all impact on workforce in terms of the way we work.

“To respond to these challenges, earlier this week we advised our staff side partners and managers that we are considering running a voluntary redundancy scheme.

“We have shared this early with staff side as part of our partnership working arrangements however there is more to do before we will be in a position to open any scheme.”

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman warned the plan may see the Trust lose its best people.

“I’m really worried about this,” he said. “What was an excellent health trust has been put into real problems in such a short space of time.

“I’ve been involved in large scale voluntary redundancy schemes before and so often what happens is the best people see it as a chance to take the money and go somewhere else.

“Either you lose a key person completely or you get in the situation where they come back selling their services as a consultant.

Calderdale Royal Hospital
Calderdale Royal Hospital
 

“I can’t see it as a sensible way forward.”

Unison’s regional health organiser, Gary Cleaver, blamed NHS funding issues.

“This isn’t the Trust wanting to do this,” he said. “They’re being forced into it by central Government cuts.

“I don’t believe they want to do this but to balance the books they’ve got to, to avoid being put into special measures by (hospital watchdog) Monitor.”

The plan to potentially axe hundreds of roles comes as the Trust dips into the red for the first time in more than a decade.

Last week it revealed a long term ambition to cut 409 jobs over ten years amid the controversial shake-up of services in Huddersfield and Calderdale.

But the need to off-load workers has now been brought forward as hospital chiefs look to urgently deal with their debts.

The predicted £4m deficit for 2014/15 has been partly blamed on the delays in implementing the preferred re-structure plan, which would see Calderdale Royal A&E unit downgraded to a minor injuries unit.

As reported, the wide ranging scheme would see hundreds of beds cut across the two hospitals as one is made a dedicated emergency centre and the other, a small hospital for outpatients and planned surgery.

The Trust has said it would prefer HRI to be the emergency centre in which case it would only run a minor injuries unit at CRH.

The plan is in the hands of health officials at Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

Last summer, the two CCGs decided to delay a review of the plan and the subsequent public consultation. It is thought they may return to the plan in 2015.

Staunch opponent of the plan, Halifax MP Linda Riordan, said: “The cat is out of the bag. The Government’s failed health policies are forcing callous cuts, job losses and ward closures on the Trust. It is a disgraceful development.”