HUNDREDS of jobs at hospitals in Bury and three other towns could face the axe after cash-strapped bosses approved plans to outsource roles.

Last Thursday, Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust board voted in favour of outsourcing some corporate services — which may result in large-scale redundancies.

Executives at Pennine Acute, which runs Fairfield and North Manchester hospitals, as well as Royal Oldham Hospital and Rochdale Infirmary, plan to contract external providers to carry out payroll and HR 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.

A trust spokesman said: “The board, at its February meeting, gave its approval to explore further the option for outsourcing our payroll and pension administration and HR advisory functions.

“Formal consultation and full discussions will now be undertaken with staff and their union representatives prior to the board making its decision having considered all matters raised by all interested parties.

“The board is keen to explore all options to improve the efficiency and quality of corporate back-office services in line with delivering the trust’s transformation agenda.”

Workers directly affected by the proposals have already been briefed by the trust’s director of human resources, the spokesman added.

It is understood none of the outsourced roles will be transferred or provided from overseas.

Pennine Acute is one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country, employing around 9,000 staff.

A staff newsletter from February 4 says NHS Shared Business Services, which provides payroll and pension provision to other hospitals, “could meet future needs”.

Legal firm Capsticks is named as the “preferred supplier” of HR staff.

One union convenor said: “Our members have not been given a chance to look at saving money.

“These reviews do not involve management posts; yet again it is the staff taking the hit.

“We have been told every service will be reviewed. Does this mean yet more redundancies on top of these hundreds?”

Nick Hayes, deputy director of human resources at Pennine Acute, said the hospital needed to ensure it was getting “the best value for money”.

He added: “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.”

Jo Keogh, associate director of elective access at Pennine, said as many medical records staff as possible would be redeployed to avoid the need for redundancy.