A cash-strapped health trust is spending what has been described as an “obscene” £350,000 to relocate offices of its management and other services.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright says the cash for the “flashy” offices at the town’s hospital could have been better used keeping two hospital-based nurseries open for at least 18 months.
The repositioning of the rooms at the University Hospital of Hartlepool comes at a time when services are being stripped away and shifted to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.
But bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation trust, which is £1.25m in deficit, say the move is part of centralising remaining services in the main tower block of the Holdforth Road site and will save £550,000 on running costs.
A disgruntled trust worker told the Mail that a number of offices, including a chief executive’s office with en-suite toilet, chairman’s office, a boardroom and administration offices, were being created at the town site on what was Ward 5, on the third floor.
It comes as a consultation is underway to close the day nurseries at the two hospitals, which have lost £764,000 in four years, with around 50 jobs at risk.
Union chiefs have slammed the move as “obscene”, especially in light of the proposed axing of the nurseries.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said:
“The idea that £350,000 is being spent, speaking as an accountant, I can’t see where the savings are going to be made.
“£350,000 could keep the nurseries at Hartlepool and North Tees open for another 18 months.
“You have got a spending priority at a time when the NHS is starved of funds, and it wouldn’t be flashy offices.”
The worker, who did not wish to be named, said the relocation work included the stripping out of oxygen tubes from the ward’s former use.
Work to fit carpets in the offices was carried out on a Bank Holiday, but the trust says this did not incur any extra costs.
The worker said:
“I can’t understand why Alan Foster is putting an office suite and other rooms in while they are talking about closing Hartlepool hospital.
“And he is trying to close the nurseries at the two hospitals, yet he has built these new offices.”
Unison area organiser Mark Edmundson said:
“At a time when the trust is proposing to close two nurseries that provide essential childcare for trust staff and the local community and also make people redundant, the cost of these offices is simply obscene.
“Unison urges the trust to look again at the nursery closure; perhaps fewer new offices for the highest-paid executives at the trust would enable this lifeline for hard-working people to remain open.”
Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, which includes North Tees, said:
“I am very surprised that the trust would spend such huge amounts of money on offices at a time when they are contemplating cuts to things like nursery provision.
“If they are able to make savings of half a million pounds as a result, that’s money that could be directly invested in the nursery provision, which could be expanded, if there is a will to do that.”
The trust’s associated director of estates and facilities Peter Mitchell said:
“Work is continuing to ensure we make best use of the buildings and space at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
“The plan is to bring in as many services as possible into the main hospital building to improve security and quality.
“Services which have been occupied in the Hart Building including office space, meeting rooms, wheelchair services, ICT, the sewing room, medical records and domestic services are being moved into a space formerly used as wards in the main hospital building.
“The costs associated with the space utilisation work is £350,000. It is estimated that by moving these services and closing the Hart Building, the trust will save around £550,000 – money to be put back into patient care.”
The trust says the toilet associated with Mr Foster’s office was already there.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 07 Oct 2014
> At one time I’d have maybe filed a story like this under ‘Urban Myth’… nowadays, who knows ?
Britain today – everything is for sale.
Cash-strapped Britons are lining up to sell a kidney on the black market, a Sunday Post investigation has revealed.
Advertising organs for sale is illegal in the UK and anyone caught attempting it can face a three-year jail term.
But a Sunday Post investigation found people across the country so desperate for cash they were willing to flout the law.
Our reporter posed as the brother of a woman desperately needing a transplant and placed an advert on a Facebook page specifically set up to buy and sell organs.
Within a week he had received 11 offers from desperate people worldwide willing to risk their lives to drag themselves out of poverty.
Many of the black market operations take place in India, Pakistan or China in an underground industry controlled by ruthless gangs.
Donors from Britain would need to travel abroad to avoid tough checks — including medical assessments and in-depth interviews — carried out by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) on all live donors in the UK.
Among the people to contact us was a man from north-east England who claimed he realised it “would be a big thing to do but for the right amount I would be willing”.
Our reporter held detailed discussions with the self-employed dad-of-three, including his blood type, the state of his health, a £30,000 payment for the donation and arrangements to meet in person.
A 22-year-old dad living in Northampton was happy to accept £20,000 for his kidney because he and his pregnant fiancee desperately need to raise enough money to return to their native Hungary.
The cash-strapped dad, who has studied at two colleges in Northamptonshire, became frustrated our reporter was not progressing the deal quickly enough and has since placed a new advert, wanting a sale “as soon as possible”.
Others to respond included three Indians willing to travel abroad, a Mexican man who revealed he was desperate for cash and a woman from Tanzania.
Meanwhile the site also contained recent adverts placed by desperate Britons willing to risk their lives and freedom for cash.
A 28-year-old man from Banchory, Aberdeenshire, placed a message online in which he claimed he would talk to anyone willing “to make an offer”.
The man who works as a chef in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, had several replies to his message.
A mum from Hampshire has placed two adverts online describing herself as having an O-negative blood type and “has a passport” suggesting she is prepared to travel abroad.
Experts at the World Health Organisation, which in 2012 revealed 10,000 black market operations involving organs were taking place every year, reacted with shock at our probe.
Luc Noel, a special advisor based in Switzerland, said: “Your Facebook experience is revealing. It demonstrates the vulnerability of some people and the power of easy money. This is one of the reasons to prohibit payment.
“Meeting patients’ needs also demands that there should not be any divide created by financial incentives.”
Jeff Powell, campaigns and policy director at anti-poverty charity War on Want, said: “It is shocking that people are so poor that they would be willing to sell a kidney for cash. This level of desperation is a direct result of governments, both at home and abroad, prioritising corporate profits and the interests of the rich over the fight against poverty and inequality.”
Alan Clamp, chief executive of the HTA which regulates live organ donations throughout the UK, said“It is illegal to offer or seek payment for organs for sale under the Human Tissue Act, and no operation from a living donor can go ahead without our approval.
“Before a transplant from a living donor goes ahead, the hospital transplant team will assess if the donor is suitable and run several tests to ensure the transplant will be as successful as possible.
“An independent assessor, acting on behalf of the HTA, will then carry out interviews with both parties and report back.
“We need to satisfy ourselves that the donor knows the risks involved, that the donor has given consent freely and no reward has been offered or received.”
Kidney transplants should take place when tests show the damage is so great the patient will require dialysis within six months.
But because of a chronic shortage of available organs this seldom happens, unless the patient receives a live donor from a family member of friend, with a compatible blood and tissue type.
The average wait for a transplant is three years but for people with rare blood groups and tissue types the wait can be much longer.
NHS Blood and Transplant has revealed across the UK there are currently 7,044 patients on the transplant waiting list of which 5,668 are for kidneys.
Currently there are around 10,000 people in the UK needing a transplant and three people die every day due to a shortage of organs. During 2012/13, 4,212 transplants took place, the majority of which were from dead donors, with 1,000 from living donors.
In 2011 broadcaster Jon Snow launched a campaign to encourage altruistic kidney donations after it was revealed wiping out the kidney transplant waiting list would save the NHS £650 million over five years.
The campaign led by Charity Give a Kidney — One’s Enough revealed the average cost of treating a patient in the final stages of kidney disease is £150,000 over five years.
By contrast, the average cost of transplantation per patient over five years is £50,000.
Source – Sunday Post 09 March 2014