Shropshire Star

Hospital chiefs 'working with partners' as funding for patient support roles is 'coming to an end'

Hospital chiefs have confirmed that they are looking to quickly find a solution to be able to continue with patient navigator roles in Shropshire.

Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust say that external funding for cancer care navigator posts is coming to an end and they are working with partners to try to fill the gap.

Patient navigators are seconded roles to help patients at the trust's hospitals in Shropshire to 'navigate their journeys" through diagnosis and treatment. They also help to support patient families and clinicians in their journey.

Sara Biffen, Acting Chief Operating Officer at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We recognise the importance and how valuable this service is for our patients.

“External funding for the cancer care navigator posts is due to end and we are doing all that we can, working with partners, to quickly find a solution to continue with these roles.”

The news comes as a 'recruitment freeze’ is in place at the county’s under-pressure emergency hospitals. It was announced in a letter to staff from chief executive Louise Barnett.

She said the trust, which manages the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, would only be able to bring in new staff in cases of “a few critical exceptions”.

The trust also has a "significant deficit" in its budget.

In a statement to the Shropshire Star SaTH said that its deficit is “significant” and that it has to ensure taxpayers’ money is used effectively. But it said that it would not “compromise on patient safety” and that the freeze only applies to non-critical posts.

The announcement of a recruitment freeze comes after annual staff survey results published this month showed that only 29 per cent of respondents at the trust believe there are enough workers for them to do their job properly.

In her note to staff Ms Barnett said the freeze was to “allow us to better assess our current staffing levels and skill mix to ensure we deliver safe services within our resources”.

In the statement to the Shropshire Star last week Rhia Boyode, director of people and organisational development at SaTH, said it is the trust's "responsibility to ensure taxpayers’ money is used effectively.

“In line with best practice, it is right that we introduce a recruitment freeze for non-critical posts as we work to review vacancies and restore financial balance.”

John Jones, medical director at SaTH, added: “We remain committed to having safe staffing levels across our services and we won’t compromise on patient safety."