The jobs of staff on temporary contracts at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry and other health facilities within the Western Health Trust area are under threat as the Trust aims to save £7 million over the next five months.
The Trust today announced its savings plans for the remainder of the 2014/15 financial year following the Minister’s statement on the health and social care budget.
The savings will be implemented between next month and March 2015.
All Trusts in Northern Ireland have been asked to develop savings plans to address the financial deficit facing health and social care in Northern Ireland.
The Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) and the service commissioner, the Health and Social Care Board have now approved a savings plan for the Western Trust totalling £7m.
A spokesperson for the Western Health Trust said in the development of its plan the Trust took account of professional advice to ensure the continued safety of patients and clients.
The spokesperson added: “However, with such a sizeable reduction in expenditure, the quality of services will be affected.
“All such impacts and associated risks will be carefully monitored and managed and action taken to protect patients and clients.”
The savings are based on the principle of supporting priority patient and client care and the maintenance of essential services, and are being delivered through strict controls on staff recruitment, travel, training and education, and bringing budgets back into line with funded levels.
There will be a number of restrictions in relation to community services across the Trust including domiciliary care packages, wheelchair allocation, short breaks and independent sector residential/nursing home provision.
The spokesperson said any restrictions would be carefully managed to protect those in greatest need.
Mental health services for older people will be redesigned in line with the Northern Ireland Dementia Strategy.
The spokesperson added: “This includes a focus on community provision and maintaining service users in their own homes. This will result in a reduction of beds across the Trust’s geography.
Daycare services provision at Spruce care home as well as those in Omagh and Westbridge House, Enniskillen will cease and service users relocated to an alternative service locally.
The majority of the savings will come from implementing a number of workforce controls across the Trust including reviewing staff on temporary contracts, stricter criteria for the use of agency, bank and locum staff and delay in filling some vacancies.
Non pay controls including the reduction of spend on goods and services; tighter controls on non-clinical travel and restrictions on training will be in place for the rest of the year.
The spokesperson concluded: “For all Trusts, the level of funding for waiting list initiatives to achieve waiting times for elective (planned) care and treatment has also been reduced from previous years. This means that waiting times for assessment and treatment in the Western Trust will increase. However, the Trust will ensure that patients are treated on the basis of clinical priority.”