Worthing Hospital plans criticised by staff member

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CONCERNS have been raised about proposals to outsource services at Worthing Hospital.

Worthing Hospital announced it is considering outsourcing several services, including its switchboard, IT, financial ledger, transactional services, payroll, temporary staffing and recruitment, in a bid to make further savings.

The plans, which the hospital said were not finalised, were criticised by a member of staff who works on the switchboard.

She said: “We don’t just answer the phones – we also respond to the alerts.

“I’d be worried if it were my relatives who were relying on someone from a call centre – it’s the kind of job that relies on local knowledge and information.”

The staff member, who asked not to be named, added: “It’s not happening tomorrow – it’s going to be a long process.

“But if these services end up being put out to the lowest price, what’s going to happen?”

Nick Fox, director of strategy at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, said the plans, if approved, would not be implemented until November, 2012, at the earliest, and the service would remain in West Sussex.

He said: “We are considering whether it could make sense for us to outsource some of our support services – but not any clinical teams – and even though we are at a very early stage in our thinking on this, we are talking to our staff to keep them informed.

“Some of these support services are already provided by external suppliers, but we are certainly not committed to any further changes at this stage.

“We have told staff we will only consider going ahead if we have guarantees that standards of service are maintained or improved, and that there are significant savings – beyond those we could achieve ‘in-house’ – which can be reinvested into frontline services.”

He added: “Clearly, we have a duty to get the best possible value for the public purse, but we also have to look after our staff, and so we will work closely with them to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for all.”