London

Whipps Cross Hospital staff asked to give up annual leave

An east London hospital has urged staff to "sacrifice" some of their annual leave or do unpaid work to save money.

Whipps Cross told its 3,400 staff that the NHS trust was facing a £4.5m deficit and needed to take "extraordinary financial measures".

The offer was "purely voluntary" and would be a "one-off" measure that would not affect their terms and conditions, chief executive Cathy Geddes said.

Consultants are also being asked to do extra clinical sessions.

Whipps Cross University Hospital serves more than 350,000 people from Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Epping Forest.

It said it had a turnover of £233m in 2009-10 but was currently facing "unprecedented and demanding financial challenges in 2011-12 and beyond".

Staff 'responding positively'

In a letter to staff, seen by BBC London, the chief executive wrote: "To this end, and in the light of our month five financial results (£4.5m actual deficit), you will be aware that the trust has now launched extraordinary financial measures.

"As part of these measures we have asked staff if they are willing to volunteer to sacrifice annual leave and/or perform additional unpaid sessional duties.

"I would like to stress that any such sacrifice will be a one-off in 2011/12 and will not commit anyone on an ongoing basis or change anyone's terms and conditions of employment."

A statement from the hospital said it had also asked consultants to work an extra clinical session every month and members of the trust's executive team were all giving up two days of annual leave.

Ms Geddes said staff were "responding positively".

"We recognise that many people already go the extra mile and deliver over and above their job requirements," she added.

Whipps Cross is planning to merge with Barts and the London NHS Trust and Newham University Hospital NHS Trust. The business case will be put forward to NHS London soon.

The proposed merger will reduce back-office duplication while the savings made would be reinvested into patient care, the hospital said.

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