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UNIONS fear that about 245 full-time posts with Northern Lincolnshire And Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust could be made redundant this year, as part of on-going cost-cutting measures.

As reported, the Trust has to make savings of £15 million per year until 2014 – as part of a four-year drive to save £20 billion nationally – and by August last year 206 posts had already been axed.

PATIENT INTERACTION: Prime Minister David Cameron talks to patient Eric Cranston during a visit to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Blackpool.
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A further 180 hospital workers' jobs were said to be under threat, though the trust was unable to confirm whether they too had been cut.

Dr Neil Pease, the director of organisational development and workforce said no plans for further cost-cutting had been finalised.

He said: "In common with all other hospitals across the country, the trust is in the middle of a savings programme.

"Because three-quarters of our spending is on staffing, it is inconceivable that this requirement will not impact on the numbers of staff we employ, but no firm plans have been finalised as yet for the coming year."

However, Unison branch secretary Ann Moses said the potential for an additional 245 jobs to be cut had been discussed during a future workforce plan meeting attended by officials from the health union.

The redundancies would be spread across the trust, which includes staff at Grimsby, Diana Princess Of Wales hospital, and Unions fear that with many "back office" positions already cut, this time clinical posts will not be spared.

She said: "It does become a worrying time as it is a lot of people to be thinking about cutting.

"Last year, most people took voluntary redundancy, but I can see there being more compulsory measures taken this time."

The revelation came as Prime Minister David Cameron announced his proposals for nurses to undertake hourly ward rounds as a means of improving patient care.

He said the Government was going to "put right" the problems raised by the Care Quality Commission, which had issues with dignity and respect in hospitals up and down the country.

He has also pledged to strip away "stifling bureaucracy" to allow nurses to focus on what they do best, adding that the whole approach to caring in this country needs to be reset.

David Cameron also wants patients to lead inspections of hospital wards, with local people becoming part of teams assessing cleanliness, dignity and nutrition.

Under the plans, an NHS Institute Time To Care initiative will be rolled out.

But, although she said she welcomed the sentiment of his plans, Ms Moses said that unless the PM pumped more money into the NHS, it would be tough to put them into action. She said: "I agree that there are always improvements to be made on the wards, but how can our nurses provide hourly care for patients when they are understaffed as it is?

"There are constant changes within the NHS that does not allow a period of stability.

"Our nurses, on the whole, do deliver the best service they possibly can under the circumstances."

However, a spokesman for the Northern Lincolnshire And Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said this was something its staff were already providing.

Tara Filby, acting chief nurse, said: "Quality is at the heart of what we do. We have already introduced quality matrons throughout our trust to ensure that standards are of the highest quality, and we have introduced the Time To Care initiative some months ago, and carry out nurse rounds.

"We are also in support of the Patients Association CARE campaign, which has been launched in association with the Nursing Standard, but we will look at the proposals in detail to ensure there is nothing further in them that could improve our service to patients further."

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