London Ambulance to Shed 890 Jobs

Cuts part of service's "cost improvement programme"

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London Ambulance Service has admitted it plans to cut 890 jobs- amost a fifth of its workforce of 5,000 - over the next five years in an effort to save £53million.

The plans have been announced as part of its five year "cost improvement programme".

London Ambulance Service says managers, support staff and frontline crews will all be told of the package of measures – including post reductions – at a series of conferences over the next few weeks.

The service says it is introducing a range of efficiency measures to reduce costs and improve services. It also expects to make up to 890 post reductions over the next five years, but adds that with around 300 staff leaving the service each year, the vast majority of reductions should come from natural wastage.

Chief Executive, Peter Bradley CBE, said: "Unfortunately we are not immune to the financial pressures facing the NHS. This means all areas of our business will face closer scrutiny as we look for ways to make savings while improving the care we give to patients.

" But with nearly 80 per cent of our budget spent on staff costs it would be impossible to make the savings required without removing posts."

Of a total workforce of nearly 5,000 staff, the Service expects to reduce the number of frontline posts – those responsible for direct patient care - by 560. A further 330 posts will be removed from management and support services. Compulsory redundancies will be avoided wherever possible.

Peter said: " We are confident that the large majority of posts can be reduced by not filling vacancies. We have an average turnover rate of 7 per cent.

" As part of our planned response we will be introducing a number of measures to control payroll costs, including tighter control of recruitment and reduced use of agency workers.

" We are committed to managing these reductions so that the impact on staff is minimised and at the same time creating an improved and efficient service for patients."

Ironically, the announcement comes just days after London Ambulance Service was named as ambulance trust of the year, and won "outstanding service" and "‘control room"’ awards at the first Emergency Service Awards, held at the Emirates Stadium.

At the awards, set up to commend emergency service staff for their word, the service was praised for its winter planning which ensured staff continued to provide a robust service to Londoners even when demand was up by 15 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Meanwhile the main reason cited for recognising the control room as the best in the UK was the setting up of a clinical coordination desk. The desk is staffed by experienced paramedics who provide support and advice to both call handlers and operational staff.

This move has helped to improve patient care and has contributed to the Service achieving the Category A target of responding to 75% of life-threatening calls within eight minutes for the eighth year in a row.

April 12, 2011