Anger at new hospital post

UNION officials have criticised a new management post devoted to the modernisation of a troubled Suffolk hospital as a waste of money at a crucial time.

UNION officials have criticised a new management post devoted to the modernisation of a troubled Suffolk hospital as a waste of money at a crucial time.

They say instead of appointing the new director, West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust should have invested the money in front-line health staff to improve performance.

Only last month, the Bury St Edmunds-based trust was stripped of its coveted three star status as one of the country's centres of medical excellence.

It was downgraded to a one star because of a budget deficit of almost £1 million, cancelling too many operations and failing to see the required number of patients with suspected cancer within two weeks.


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Hospital bosses say that although the title of the management role is new, the post itself is an updated version of operations manager – a job held by Amanda Skull until earlier this year.

But Ann Robertson, a member of public service union Unison's national executive and branch secretary at the hospital, hit out at the appointment of Jane Harper-Smith as the trust's newly created Director of Modernisation.

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She stressed: "We have just lost our stars and a lot of that was to do with finance. We're supposed to be tightening our belts but we have appointed a new director.

"We need more doctors and nurses and in this department we're in desperate need of more cleaners. Bringing in another director is an absolute joke."

Hospital chiefs insist the post will improve the trust's clinical performance by identifying and encouraging positive changes in practice.

They say staff involvement is vital for the process to work and the new director will encourage people to bring forward ideas for changes to "enhance the patient experience".

John Parkes, chief executive at the trust stressed: "The NHS is currently undergoing a period of significant change. It is important we have a capable person in place to drive forward this process and ensure that everyone involved is working to the same goal.

"I am sure that Jane Harper-Smith has the right skills and background to accomplish this."

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