Shropshire Star

Recruitment freeze in place at county hospital trust

A 'recruitment freeze' has been put in place at the county's under-pressure emergency hospitals.

A recruitment freeze is in place at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust

The move, which relates to Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), was announced in a letter to staff from chief executive, Louise Barnett.

She said the trust, which manages 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".

Today SaTH's board meeting is expected to hear its deficit is around £91m – more than twice the planned deficit of £45m.

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 Rhia Boyode, Director of People and Organisational Development at SaTH, said: “We are committed to delivering high quality and sustainable healthcare and recognise that as a Trust, and health and care system, we have a significant financial deficit and it is our 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.

"All our staff are a valued part of delivering quality care for patients. We want to work with colleagues to understand opportunities for us to work more efficiently, including how we can support new ways of working. We know that by improving quality we can also support financial efficiencies.

“We will continue to keep our colleagues and communities informed and involved, as we continue to improve care whilst working to restore financial balance.”

The move has sparked concerns over the potential impact on services at the trust, which has been in special measures since 2018.

Shropshire Council Green Party Councillor, Julian Dean, said: "A freeze on all hospital staff recruitment is a shock and reveals the trust is more in desperate measures than 'special measures'.

"No hospital trust would stop recruiting staff when our NHS is so understaffed unless there is an acute funding emergency.

"For all to see it is clear that our very best health care is threatened by inadequate staffing levels derived from insufficient funding and proper forward planning.

"In the sixth wealthiest economy in the world this is a political choice.

"The staff that are working in our two acute hospitals do a truly superb job delivering the best care they can – yesterday, and will do so today and tomorrow – but under extreme pressure plus with a lack of capacity in beds and social care.

"This inevitably worsens patients' outcomes and burns out valuable professionals."