FRESH job losses have been announced at Bury Hospice as services at the cash-strapped charity continue to shrink - despite increased NHS funding.
Last week, health bosses announced a £124,000 cash lifeline would fund six overnight beds, day care services and hospice at home until the end of March.
But on Friday, a new swathe of redundancies was announced, including the loss of senior nurses, a complementary therapist, and cleaning and catering staff.
Three clinical manager posts have been axed and will be replaced with one nursing manager, who will run the inpatient unit, hospice at home and day hospice services.
Bury Hospice’s complementary therapist, who provides comfort and relaxation treatments, has also been made redundant alongside a cook and a kitchen assistant, while others have been given reduced hours.
The day hospice service, which provides care for 30 patients across three days and already has a waiting list, will now be open one day a week for around 10 people.
Hospice at home has been “reconfigured” to 120 hours a week, but staff say this remains a reduction from the 165-hour service provided two months ago, as a nurse who left was not replaced.
One of three fundraising positions has been made redundant, but will be replaced by two new part-time fundraisers and a fundraising manager.
Last Wednesday, Bury’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) confirmed the hospice would be given extra funding of £124,000 on top of the £305,000 it already receives from the NHS.
A condition of the deal was that the CCG’s auditors were able to review the hospice’s governance arrangements to check the books are being balanced as effectively as possible.
A current member of nursing staff, who did not wish to be named, said: “Agency nurses are being hired and are being paid a higher wage than staff nurses, but cannot do the same jobs and do not have that bond with patients that is such a key part of palliative care.
“Not having a complementary therapist is madness. That should be right at the core of a hospice and Bury could be one of the only hospices in the country which does not have one.”
Another member of staff added: “Clinical redundancies mean the loss of highly experienced and dedicated nurses, leaving junior staff with no guidance or support.
“There have been no changes made to administrative and retail staff or the jobs of senior non-clinical managers.
“Does the hospice really need management roles more than senior nurses with years of experience who provide direct patient care, the reason the hospice exists in the first place?”
A hospice spokesman said the management and board of trustees have been reducing costs “in all areas of operation” over the past 12 months.
He confirmed that three clinical posts would be made redundant and one created, operational support services reduced, catering and housekeeping restructured and working hours in other areas impacted.
The spokesman added: “We welcome the extra £124,000 from the CCG and its commitment to review how funding for end-of-life care in Bury will be provided in the future.
“This increase in funding until March, 2015, along with our projected income, will provide six overnight beds, one day a week of day care and a reconfigured hospice at home service.
“We are restructuring the fundraising operation in order to be better equipped to meet the financial challenges ahead and have entered into redundancy consultation with staff.
“We have jointly agreed with the CCG for an internal audit to be undertaken to demonstrate openness and transparency in how the hospice is managed.
“Once again, we thank the people of Bury and appeal for their continued support.”
Cllr James Frith, who has collected more than 4,000 signatures for his Save Bury Hospice campaign, has called for a public meeting.
He said: “Bury Hospice belongs to everyone in Bury, so we should have a say in what those services need to be.
“We need a public event to allow for an open discussion on what is needed for the future. This should include NHS Bury, patient and staff representatives, members of the public and the hospice itself.”
Dr Kiran Patel, chairman of Bury CCG, said: “Over the coming months, our clinicians will be reviewing and redesigning the end of life care pathway as a whole to best meet the needs of the people of Bury.
“It is anticipated that elements of the service currently provided by Bury Hospice will feature in this redesigned service.”