Preston and Chorley hospital staff offers payouts to quit amid £58m savings drive

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Royal Preston Hospital Emergency Department Pic: Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Preston Hospital Emergency Department Pic: Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The trust which runs Preston and Chorley’s hospitals has offered to pay staff to quit as part of efforts to make huge savings.

Bosses at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals (LTH) are aiming to save £58m by the end of 2024/25 but insist they will not cut corners or compromise patient care. The cuts come on top of a record £36.9m reduction in costs in 2023/24 but would still leave a £24.3 deficit.

Staff working across the trust were told via a mass email on Tuesday that it has launched a scheme which would allow certain workers to choose to leave “in return for a payment”. The Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme (MARS) differs from redundancy and is available for applications until July 26. 

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The scheme does not apply to anyone who delivers direct clinical care to patients, or who directly supports clinical pathways. Those eligible include all administrative and clerical staff from Corporate Services division and Band 5 and above administrative and clerical staff working within the clinical divisions.

The email sent to staff members – and seen by Blog Preston – stated: “MARS has been developed with the aim of increasing workforce flexibility. We need to achieve financial savings whilst working more efficiently and effectively, and where there is a potential saving that can be made by mutual agreement it will help to support this objective. 

“In considering whether to approve applications for MARS we will consider benchmarking data, service reviews, impact on clinical services and patient care, and future strategy. There is a multi-step approval process for all applications, and this will include Equality Impact Assessment.”

MARS payments are generally lower than redundancy settlements and the scheme also differs in that it is entirely voluntary. When approached by Blog Preston, the trust did not answer whether there was a target number of people to leave via the scheme.

A spokesperson said: “The Trust has implemented a comprehensive Financial Recovery Programme aimed at continuing to deliver high quality services to patients whilst resetting the approach we have to managing our finances leading to a stabilised position over the next three years.

“We cannot emphasise strongly enough that the control measures and the longer-term improvement programme are not about cutting corners or compromising on the quality of care we provide. Instead, they are about working smarter, using our resources more effectively and ensuring that every decision we make is in the best interests of our patients and the long-term sustainability of our Trust.

“We have developed a clear and robust Equality Quality Impact Assessment (EQIA) process which is in place so that we fully understand whether and how any decisions will impact on patient care and of course patient care and safety will remain at the centre of our decision making.”

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