WEST Middlesex Hospital is set to escape the huge level of redundancies announced by other trusts, the Chronicle can reveal.
However, some front-line posts are likely to go, surgery hours could be reduced and a handful of beds may be lost, the hospital's 'turnaround director' admitted this week.
Andrew Murphy was brought in last September to help the hospital slash costs following a freeze in government funding - equivalent to a 15 per cent reduction in real terms over the next four years, according bosses at the trust.
He has already ensured it will break even for the first time in three years, a vital factor in negotiations to have its £21 million historic debt written off. Now he has drawn up plans to slash spending by £10.7, to about £140m, next year, and by a further £7m the following year.
Exact details of the savings are set to be agreed at a meeting of the trust board on March 22, with a public announcement expected in early April.
Kingston Hospital last month announced plans to axe nearly 500 jobs over the next five years, with similarly drastic measures widely predicted at other trusts across the country.
However, Mr Murphy - whose temporary appointment at a cost of £19,000 a month sparked controversy last year - this week told the Chronicle the West Mid's management department would bear the brunt of any cuts.
Administration costs are set to be slashed by about 35 per cent over the next two years, he claimed, compared with a reduction of five to seven per cent in clinical spending.
"We want to protect front-line services as much as possible and we're not going to be announcing huge redundancies," he said. "There are lots of things that can be done which will both reduce costs and improve care for patients. This is not a slash and burn exercise, it is a well thought through improvement plan."
The hospital has about 80 agency staff on its books for nursing and half as many again in administrative roles, with both numbers likely to be significantly reduced.
Key to any savings will be reducing the amount of time patients spend in wards before and after surgery, which Mr Murphy said would help both them and the hospital.
Bosses have already closed 45 beds over the last couple of years and plan to cut a small number of the remaining 300 acute beds.
This, they claim, means fewer nurses will be needed and will allow them to reduce the hours of one surgical ward from seven to five days a week.
Another ward closure is planned for next year, subject to demand, but Mr Murphy claimed further redundancies were unlikely in 2012/13.
The turnaround director said all employees had been closely consulted about the planned changes and asked to come up with their own money-saving ideas. Among staff recommendations already adopted is the introduction of price stickers on all equipment. It is hoped this will encourage clinicians to think twice about what they use, saving an estimated £150,000 a year.
Asking staff to think more carefully about what tests are needed, rather than requesting 'all the tests under the sun', is expected to save a further £70,000 a year.
Mr Murphy insisted both measures were clinically led, with no targets for staff, and would not affect patients' standard of care in any way.