Hospital canteen opening hours cut will save £65,000 annually

Opening hours of the Gilbert Bain Hospital restaurant hot food counter are to be cut to save the health board around £65,000 a year, but the canteen will remain open 24 hours a day with a more limited range of food on offer.

The changes, which come in on 1st April, are said to be unpopular with some staff. However, NHS Shetland chairman Ian Kinniburgh defended them, saying that they were preferable to less money being available for the direct care of patients.

The new hours mean that the hot food servery will be open from 8am to 2pm, covering the breakfast and lunchtime periods. The cafe had been losing money in the quieter afternoon period and weekends, according to the NHS.

Mr Kinniburgh said that the changes had been extensively discussed at the area partnership committee and staff appeared to appreciate that the reasons behind them were to try and save the cash-strapped health board some money.

The board is faced with £3.9 million cuts over three years despite the recent announcement of an extra £1.8m from the Scottish government.

Mr Kinniburgh said: “We are not doing these things to inconvenience people. We are doing these things because there are a whole series of savings that we have to deliver across everything we are doing.

“I would love to be in a position to be able to continue to operate the canteen without any restrictions, but when the choice is save money doing this, or take money out of direct patient care, we are doing the right thing.”

The canteen will be open to anyone in the hospital throughout the night with pre-plated food, sandwiches, snacks, soup that can be microwaved and vending machines supplying hot drinks and the like. Under the present arrangements the cafe is locked up when serving ends at 7pm.

Mr Kinniburgh said: “Sure there will be some folk who use the facility in the evening time, but the reality is it’s costing us too much money to run at the moment.

“Possibly there are some folk who do not agree with it. But the majority of staff, if they recognise the reasons we are doing it, will agree.”

According to NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts the canteen last year “probably lost around £65,000” and that was predominantly because it lost money at the evenings and weekends.

The health board has a policy to re-deploy staff on suitable work at the same grade, with options available in cleaning, portering and other services.

Mr Kinniburgh said: “These are essential to the running of hospital. These are hard working people [the canteen staff] who are able to do a whole range of things. These will be realistic options.”

Meanwhile, the health board is still considering options for the future of the Gilbert Bain Hospital’s Ronas Ward, which in the past has garnered high marks from inspectors, with the dual aim of saving money and improving services.

Mr Kinniburgh said that high among the objectives was preventing the loss of mobility among people who come to hospital.

Changes will fit in with the core objective of increasing care in the community for people who do not need to be in hospital wards.

He said: “This is an opportunity to look at how we do things and it is essential that we do examine that. We are not looking at the closure of services and that’s what we have said for a long time.

“We want a better service for people. Everything that we are doing at the moment is about how we can get people on their feet earlier.”

This includes an expansion of facilities for day care and ambulatory care where people may be in day hospital for minor surgical procedures and not taking up beds overnight.

Mr Kinniburgh said that the changes were being developed in full consultation with health care professionals and as well as saving money are aimed at giving NHS Shetland more capacity.

He said: “What we want to do is have clinicians change the things that we do. We want to get to the stage that what we are planning is effectively owned by the staff.

“Ultimately that’s where all health care is going. How we do things now is radically different to how we did things 10 years ago.

“The bottom line is people are living longer. That means we are delivering more care and keeping people more active in their own homes longer than we have done.”

Mr Kinniburgh said that the service would be evolving regardless of NHS Shetland’s financial situation and that people should only be in hospital as a last resort.

“We need to be better at moving people from a hospital experience to a community experience.”

He said there was a “tremendous appetite” among communities for greater involvement in health care and much of the work of the Integration Joint Board, which brings together the NHS and Shetland Islands Council, consisted of getting people from different organisations to work better together.


Add Your Comment
  • paul smith

    • March 27th, 2016 18:35

    I agree the NHS needs to save money. However why do we need two chief executives. Why cannot we merge executive services with Orkney. That will save money. There also needs to be a change in the consultants. We need to get new blood into the service to enable nurses to do more, thus saving money. and change the traditional ways of working. Look at Lerwick health center for example with the new ANP model. This needs to transverse across to the GBH

  • iantinkler

    • March 28th, 2016 8:07

    “The board Health board is faced with £3.9 million cuts over three years ” Good old SG/SNP, but however, we do have free prescriptions, however wealthy we are and whatever are ability to pay!! Only the needy get free prescriptions South of the border, but down South real time spending on the NHS has gone up. (
    Sad that Shetland NHS is starved of funds, but the free scripts (even for toothpaste) will give the NATS a few cheap votes. Typical SNP election bribe, free drugs, yet people turned away fro A and E with broken bones suspected, only in Nicola’s Scotland!!!!

  • gordon downing

    • March 28th, 2016 18:24

    Funny how the staff cuts come at the bottom of the ladder
    Much more money could be saved trimming the top of the organisation.

    • Johan Adamson

      • March 29th, 2016 8:55

      Yep, one top job might save as much as double the £65, 000.

      They could probably have put up prices. Cheap hot meals relative to other eateries in Lerwick. Staff discount scheme in place and could be vouchers for others in need.

    • David Spence

      • March 29th, 2016 9:59

      I agree Gordon……..Too many chiefs and not enough indians, as they say.

      However, I suspect, like all Local Authorities, it was designed to create a situation of where millions are spent on the people at the top of the pyramid and less at the bottom (partially due to Health and Safety and the Legal System).

      As well as this, the unjustified austerity cuts (caused by the greedy bankers, but the Tories will not support this) are merely a means in which to undermine the performance of the NHS, and the preparation of the NHS to the private sector (it costs the NHS 6 times more to take on a agency nurse than it does a NHS nurse).

      This Tory Government’s agenda is fairly obvious in terms of their backdoor dealings in the privatization of the NHS, and now the proposed conversion of all Local Authority schools to academies, which a large percentage of teachers are totally against. This will also lower the standards of education because profits, dreaded shareholders and lack of investment will take greater priority than education itself.

      This will exactly the same for the privatized NHS in the future.

  • John Tulloch

    • March 29th, 2016 7:43

    Yes, Gordon D., I’m afraid that’s the ‘Tartan Tories’ for you – “Cut, cut, cut!”

    Don’t hold your breath for them to cut the top people’s jobs, they don’t even want to put up their taxes – from the Herald:

    “On Wednesday, the First Minister said it would be “daft” and “reckless” to use new powers coming to Holyrood in 2017 to raise the rate from 45p to 50p for those earning over £150,000.

    Rather than generate extra funds, such a raise actually could cost money, she warned, as it could prompt many rich individuals to leave Scotland. Sturgeon was praised by the Tories, but attacked……. by the LibDems……..”

    “Sturgeon was praised by the Tories but… attacked by the LibDems…”!

    Says it all, really.

  • John Tulloch

    • March 29th, 2016 11:17

    Be careful what you wish for, centralisation will be the response. And every time a top job goes from Shetland, the Shetland economy shrinks by the amount “saved”.

    An autonomous Shetland will be much better off with no need for centralisation or cutting canteen staff.

    We should be calling for control of our own affairs, financial and health included, not for centralisation of top jobs.

  • Iain Adam

    • March 29th, 2016 12:19

    I agree with Paul. The NHS should Transfer one CEO and his team to Aberdeen or further away and let Shetland merge with Orkney. Should save thousands

  • Andrew Gibson

    • March 29th, 2016 19:11

    Most administrative tasks within NHS Shetland could be outsourced with just a skeleton staff remaining on island. Some administrative functions; direct patient contact, Supplies etc could not be performed elsewhere.

    The cost of the board could exceed £1.5m if you included support costs: (not all that would be saved). It may actually improve decision making, as staff within NHS Shetland are not able to specialise like those elsewhere.

    The question of outsourcing functions has been discussed and carried out by NHS Shetland. The opposite is also true; bringing services to the island. John hits the nail on the head to much of the opposition to any proposals, particularly when it involves board activities and decision making. There would be a loss of identity and control. Should there be a NHS Islands comprising of Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles? Should each island Board become a subsidiary of a larger mainland Board?

    It is arguable that the NHS Shetland could be strategically managed by a board on the mainland and tactically managed on island by 1/2 director(s) supported by deputies. The question would be would Shetlanders want that?

    However, NHS Scotland’s ‘no redundancy policy’ means staff savings could be very small.


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