THIRTY NURSES FACE THE SACK –UNISON threatens industrial action at North Devon NHS Trust

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Nurses rally in central London on May 11 against cuts
Nurses rally in central London on May 11 against cuts

Sixty health workers including thirty nurses are to lose their jobs at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple as the NHS Trust seeks to cut costs in the face of a £7.9m deficit.

The Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust said in a statement it has no other options: ‘As part of its £8 million financial recovery plan, Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT) is restructuring the workforce.

‘Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT) reported a £7.9 million debt in 2006 and is expecting to receive very substantial assistance from the Strategic Health Authority, which needs to be paid back.

‘As part of the financial turnaround process, NDHT is examining every aspect of the Trust’s business to see where efficiencies and savings can be made.

‘Seventy-five per cent of the Trust’s expenditure is on pay and therefore it is essential that the structure and size of the workforce is reviewed.

‘To date, the Trust has already made reductions in the size of the workforce, through ceasing the use of agency nurses, reducing the use of bank staff, vacancy controls and a reduction in overtime.

‘However, there is still more work that needs to take place over the next few months and the Trust is looking to reduce the workforce by a further 60 full time equivalent posts.

‘It is expected that around 50 per cent of these will be in ward nursing areas.

‘It is hoped that this reduction will be achieved through vacancy management and the redeployment of staff into key areas, thus minimising the impact on patient care.’

The Northern Devon Healthcare Trust employs 1,622 whole time equivalent staff in Barnstaple.

Local UNISON official Ken Terry said: ‘This is yet another example of the NHS in crisis.

‘It appears that we receive daily information about trusts and their financial difficulties.

‘Unison will oppose any compulsory redundancies by any means including industrial action.’

Meanwhile in March, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust announced about 200 job cuts to make ‘savings’ of £22m, and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, which is facing an £8.1m deficit, announced it plans to axe 300 staff.

• SECOND NEWS STORY

INDIA TESTS BALLISTIC MISSILE

India has successfully carried out its first test of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile with a range of 4,000km.

There was no outcry from Western powers after yesterday’s launch, which comes four days after North Korea sparked an international storm by test-firing seven missiles which however failed to complete the test.

The Agni-III missile was launched from Wheeler Island, 180km northeast of Bhubaneshwar in the eastern state of Orissa, Indian defence officials said.

In May, Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian defence minister, had said that the Agni-III, the Asian country’s longest-range ballistic missile, was ready but that India was observing ‘self-imposed restraint’ before testing.

New Delhi and Washington reached a deal in March that will lift sanctions on India’s access to civilian nuclear technology.

A Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official said the Indian test was ‘successful’.

The missile was tracked during take-off, re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown in the Bay of Bengal, another defence official said.

The Agni (Fire) is one of five missiles being developed by the DRDO under its integrated guided missile development programme launched in 1983. The others are the Prithvi, the surface-to-air Trishul (Trident), multi-purpose Akash (Sky) and the anti-tank Nag (Cobra).