NURSES at the Royal Bolton Hospital are taking part in a pilot scheme to work two shifts per day instead of three in a bid to save £1.5 million.

Staff will work three 13-hour shifts per week instead of five 7.5-hour shifts.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, which is £14.5 million in debt and must save £50 million in the next three years, is piloting the new system as part of its turnaround programme.

A consultation is ongoing at the Trust to cut 500 jobs, including nurses, to save money.

It is hoped the new shift pattern, which will be rolled out across the Trust if the pilot is successful, will save £1.5 million a year by reducing the shift change-over time.

Initially, it will affect 200 nurses on wards including D4, B3, E3, E4, F3, F4 AND G3.

Dee Sissons, the Trust’s chief nurse and patient safety and experience director, said: “Changing shift patterns will provide more qualified nurses to patients than currently available. Patients appreciate the same person looking after them all day — for example midwives will be able to spend longer with a mother.”

It will also mean nurses have longer away from work, and more blocks of time off.

The pilot is one of 70 potential cost-saving initiatives the £1 million Turnaround Team, which includes financial experts from Deloitte, is considering.

Trust staff have suggested 50 ideas to save money, including using a different brand of wipes to save £7,000 per year.

Harry Hanley, secretary of Staff Side at the Trust, said some nurses seemed happy with the new shift arrangement but added they would support anyone who did not want to change their hours.

He said: “If people want to do it, then it is fine, unless they have got families and child care arrangement and can’t do them, provided they don’t force the new shifts on people it is all right. A lot of people are saying it is actually better for them than working 7.5 hours.

“If they had listened to the staff a long time ago, some of these ideas would have been put into place and we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

In a newsletter to staff, acting chief executive Jackie Bene said: “We have put a stringent cost-savings programme in place and have made an encouraging start, as we look to restore the Trust to financial health as soon as possible. We are grateful for everyone’s efforts so far but there’s still a huge amount of work to do.”