Once again the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) in Farnborough, Kent, finds itself in financial difficulties, with a huge deficit of around £94 million.
The PRUH was taken over by London-based King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust two years ago, and the Trust’s latest money-saving idea is to ask staff at the PRUH to volunteer to work on the wards, using the savings to employ temporary “bank” staff, as opposed to permanent staff, to cover any outstanding shifts. It calls this idea “Let’s pull together”.
It is not enough that staff often forgo their breaks and stay long after their shift has finished. Now they are being asked to work for free and to make pledges committing further “free” time. The trust claims this will give a good opportunity to understand how the wards are run!
Financial woes seem to follow King’s around. At the end of January the trust began work on a new helipad at King’s College Hospital at the cost of £13 million – as a major trauma centre, a helipad is a plus for King’s, but at the same time it has closed down a perfectly good helipad at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, which served a vital purpose as it is less than 10 miles away from Brands Hatch racetrack.
Management team doubles
King’s has also doubled the size of its management team and doubled the number of matrons. In A&E, the number of matrons has tripled over two years.
Health staff at the PRUH think King’s fails to understand that what matters is not how many staff are completing paperwork each shift but how many are working on the front line. At present they report some days when only one health care assistant is left on a ward working looking after 28 often frail and confused patients. And this despite the Francis report into the Stafford Hospital scandal.