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Fears Colchester merger is driving rise in staff turnover at Ipswich Hospital

PUBLISHED: 18:24 30 November 2017

Ipswich Hospital.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich Hospital. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Uncertainty about the future might be fuelling an increase in staff turnover at Ipswich Hospital, a trust leader has warned.

Laurence Collins, deputy board chairman and nonexecutive director at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDLaurence Collins, deputy board chairman and nonexecutive director at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

There are fears the hospital’s proposed merger with Colchester General Hospital is contributing to a rise in the number of employees leaving Ipswich.

In October, the staff turnover rate hit the trust ceiling of 10%.

Speaking at a public meeting today, Laurence Collins, deputy board chairman and nonexecutive director, said this figure had been the focus of discussions during a recent workforce committee sit-down.

He said: “We did noted the average is 14% so in terms of the general UK trend we are still holding our own.

David White, chairman of The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDDavid White, chairman of The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

“We are still concerned absolutely to get that back down.

“There was some discussion about whether it was in fact unsettled staff as a result of the merger but the jury’s out on that. We did discuss the importance of keeping the foot on the throttle of bringing certainty to people’s lives.”

Clare Edmondson, director of human resources, said more people were starting work at Ipswich Hospital than leaving.

Sickness absence rates were also higher than the trust’s target of 3.5% in October.

Ms Edmondson added: “If you take turnover and absence together those numbers over the last few months are beginning to go in the wrong direction.

“We can’t find any trends, it’s ones there and twos there.”

Conversely, board chairman David White said the hospital’s proposed merger with Colchester was actually sparking interest from some potential employees.

He said: “One of our ambitions is that by both trusts coming together we will not only be stronger in terms of reach and size but career development opportunities at all levels.

“We are seeing an increased interest in particular positions on the basis of the partnership going forward so it’s about managing the time of change and the inevitable concerns but the opportunities it brings far outweighs the unease some people might feel.”

Latest Colchester General Hospital figures show staff turnover rates at the trust have been steadily decreasing over the past year, sitting at 13.8% in September 2017.

A full business case for the merger is being drawn up and if agreed it will go ahead in June 2018.

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