Bosses at Barts Health Trust announced plans to sack a further 160 nurses from its six already overstretched east London hospitals last week. They also want to slash the wages and conditions for a further 472 nurses and healthcare assistants.
Barts Health is notorious for being massively indebted and the largest Private Finance Initiative scheme in the NHS. It was formed by a merger of Barts and the London, Whipps Cross University Hospital and Newham University Hospital trusts in April 2012.
Barts and Royal London were both rebuilt at a combined cost of £1.7 billion. Interest repayments to hedge funds and other private investors now cost £2 million every week. In a futile attempt to pay these private loan sharks, bosses are slashing services throughout the Trust.
More than 120 people came to a launch meeting to save A&E services at Newham General Hospital last week.
Charlotte Monro is the Unison union rep at Whipps Cross hospital. She was charged with gross misconduct earlier this year and last week was verbally sacked. Charlotte and her union believe she was targetted for speaking out against the cuts and attacks on workers.
“Barts Health is trying to say what it will and won’t allow and when you can speak as a trade union rep,” she said. “They’re trying to frighten reps. But it’s not just about my job—it’s all our jobs and our hospitals.”
Sam Strudwick, an occupational therapist and rep at Whipps Cross said, “I was told by management not to speak about Charlotte—so I’ve been telling everyone!” Bizarrely bosses at Barts claim that the Trust is overstaffed and the cuts will not affect patients.
They claim that non-specialist wards only need one nurse to every seven patients, including patients with cancer. Yet the A&E at Royal London had to close to emergencies last month because it was overwhelmed by patients and so short staffed. It also cancelled all non-emergency surgery.
The hospitals’ top floors are empty because the Trust can’t afford equipment and staff.