CASH-STRAPPED hospital bosses are poised to approve plans which could lead to hundreds of job losses at hospitals in Bury and North Manchester.

Internal newsletters seen by the Bury Times reveal proposals by Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to outsource some corporate services which could result in numerous redundancies.

Executives at the trust, which runs Fairfield, North Manchester and Royal Oldham hospitals, together with Rochdale Infirmary, plan to contract external providers to carry out payroll and human resources roles.

The jobs of another 160 staff who deal with medical records could be in jeopardy as a new electronic patient record system is rolled out in the next 12 to 18 months.

Medical records workers are based at each of the trust’s four sites, but it is not known how possible payroll and HR job losses will impact on individual hospitals. Final recommendations from the executive directors are to be heard by the trust’s board today, the Bury Times understands.

Pennine Acute is one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country, employing around 9,000 staff. A staff newsletter from February 4 confirms executive directors are considering employing “specific external providers” to take on the trust’s payroll, pensions and HR jobs.

It states: “A small working group has put forward options to improve the way that the payroll and pension function could be organised, which would result in a reduction in the number of staff needed to operate the function going forward.”

NHS Shared Business Services, which provides payroll and pension services to a number of other trusts, is said to operate a service which “could meet future needs”.

The newsletter reveals numerous meetings with external suppliers have been held and a procurement process to undertake potential providers of HR roles is in place — with legal firm Capsticks named as the “preferred supplier”.

Jo Keogh, associate director of elective access at Pennine Acute, confirmed the implementation of the “revolutionary” Electronic Document Records Management System would affect 160 staff.

She said: “As we implement this scheme over the next couple of years we will no longer require paper record libraries; this will effect 160 of the staff who manage these.

“As we work through the transition to the electronic records system we will do everything we can to redeploy as many staff as possible and avoid the need for redundancy.”

A representative for the trust’s staff said it was too early to comment because no plans had been submitted to the union for consultation.

Nick Hayes, deputy director of human resources at Pennine Acute, said no formal decision on whether to outsource payroll and HR advisory jobs had been made.

He said: “In common with the whole public sector, we have to make sure that we are getting the best value for money and if there are some support and administrative functions that can be provided to the same quality, but more cheaply by specialist providers, then we have to consider if we should take advantage of that to protect frontline patient care.

“We decided the best approach with other support services such as financial accounts and staff recruitment was to retain and modernise them in-house.

“We are taking each service on a case-by-case basis to decide what is best for patient care and the public purse.”

One union convenor for Pennine Acute said: “Pennine Acute provides healthcare for people living in some of the most deprived areas in the country. They are going to add to that by making hundreds of staff redundant.”

Pennine Acute declined to comment on how much money independent consultants had been paid to undertake the review.