Hospital looks to cut beds

PUBLISHED: 13:00 27 April 2006 | UPDATED: 14:40 12 May 2010

NURSES at Royston and District Hospital could have their hours changed – and some beds could be lost on a temporary basis . The hospital will also stop using agency nurses in a bid to reduce debts. The Royston, Buntingford and Bishop s Stortford Primary

NURSES at Royston and District Hospital could have their hours changed - and some beds could be lost on a "temporary basis".

The hospital will also stop using agency nurses in a bid to reduce debts.

The Royston, Buntingford and Bishop's Stortford Primary Care NHS Trust was expected to have a deficit of about £3.7 million at the end of the financial year, according to a report to its board.

The move at the hospital appears to be part of a cost-cutting exercise undertaken by the NHS trust.

Nurses at the hospital were understood to have been told on Tuesday that their working hours could be changed.

A NHS trust spokeswoman said there had been meetings with nursing staff to see whether "they could become more flexible".

The NHS trust is understood to be looking at cutting a number of beds at the hospital, which could be between three and six.

"There will be temporary closure of some beds," she said.

"If this was anything other than a temporary move we would have to formally consult.

"One of the most important things we're doing is looking at ways to make efficiencies - and one of those is to minimise our dependency on agency nursing.

"Agency staff cost the health service more than staff employed directly, in a time where we have to look at what we're spending.

"Things such as agency staff would be a prime area we would look at," she said.

The future of the hospital has been under discussion for a considerable period, but the NHS trust is still to produce a plan for the building which might see an extension of clinics on the premises.

A development plan drawn up almost a decade ago was shelved after a public protest over land on the site being sold for a housing development - although cash from the sale would pay towards hospital improvements.

Members of the NHS trust have said that they will report any plans for developments to councillors on North Herts District Council's Royston area committee and to Royston Town Council.

There are discussions being held with Herts County Council over the hospital providing some kind of adult care service.

Meanwhile, the NHS trust is still awaiting a decision from the Department of Health over the re-shaping of the primary care trusts which may see the introduction of a new body working across a wider area.

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