Hospital staff in South Cumbria face sick pay cut

Hospital staff in South Cumbria might be asked to give up sick pay or take a salary cut in an effort to stave off predicted job losses.

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust has to cut at least £15m from its budget in the next financial year.

Bosses are in talks with unions over changes to staff terms and conditions.

The trust runs Furness General in Barrow, the Westmorland General in Kendal and the Ulverston Community Health Centre.

The trust has already warned of "significant" job losses, but hopes to achieve staff reductions through natural wastage.

Patrick McGahon, director of service and commercial development at the trust, said talks were also taking place over possible amendments to staff terms and conditions.

He said: "We need to save at least £15m so we are looking at all options.

"We are looking at our HR policies and our terms and conditions to see if there is anything within that we can reduce and help us offset any job losses.

"These could include not making any payments for the first two or three days of sickness, which would have a significant effect in terms of savings."

Mr McGahon said efforts would also be made to reduce the need for patients in South Cumbria to travel to the trust' s larger hospital in Lancaster for treatment.

Kirk Panter, chairman of the joint unions representing staff at the trust, said he feared the cuts would result in a reduction of services for patients.

He said: "We have been in turn round for a number of years now so any easy cuts have already been made.

"The trust will have to review what services are provided... and people will notice a difference in the service."

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