BOSSES at Ardgowan Hospice are reviewing staffing levels – and say they can’t rule out redundancies.

Acting chief executive Ian Marshall says the review will look at how nurses and health care assistants can be deployed in a ‘more agile way’ to widen access to services.

This means changing the way the hospice works.

Mr Marshall told the Telegraph: “It’s not about cuts or redundancies, it’s about responding to the changing needs of patients and the community.

“In the next five to 10 years there will be an incredible increase in the number of people who need specialist care palliative services. We want to extend our role to the many people who have life-limiting illnesses.”

But when asked if he could confirm that there would be no job losses, Mr Marshall said there were ‘no guarantees’.

He said: “There’s never any guarantees over redundancies, we won’t know until we’ve done the staff review. Roles may change.

“Nurses and health care assistants at the day hospice and drop-in centres may be asked to support supportive care clinics and utilising staff in a smarter way.

“We cannot stand still.”

The hospice currently employs 92 members of staff and cares for around 1,000 patients per year.

It has three main departments, in-patient care, palliative care and a day hospice, but Mr Marshall says its role is changing with the development of two supportive care clinics at Port Glasgow Health Centre and Greenock Health Centre.

He says they hope to help more people with life-limiting illnesses.

In a statement issued by the hospice, Mr Marshall said: “We have listened to patients, families and members of the public and we know that we have to continue to develop and improve our model of care to ensure as many people can access hospice services, when and where they need it. 

“This is a positive step to ensure growth of our services and increased access to them. To achieve this however, we will be taking a different fiscal approach and we will be making adjustments to how we operate to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for the hospice. 

“This will include revising our staffing structure to ensure we have a modern workforce better suited to meet the operational needs of the hospice with a focus on our ability to deliver the highest standards of clinical service both through our in-patient unit and in the community. 

The review comes at the same time as the organisation revealed that in six out of the last 10 years, the hospice has operated at a deficit.

The board is keen to get back on track and achieve a surplus by 2019/20 after being bolstered by reserves.

Mr Marshall said: “Ardgowan Hospice has been running an operating deficit for six out of the past ten years, which is not uncommon for charities. It has been manageable because of our level of reserves, however the board of trustees, along with the management team, is committed to improving the financial health of the hospice and to delivering the highest quality care to the people of Inverclyde.”

Mr Marshall said: “We still have reserves and the funds to continue.

“We want to take action now to ensure a future.”

Mr Marshall says the review is also looking at maximising income and looking at every contract coming up for utilities and getting the best value for money.

The hospice chief says patients and their families will be asked what they want.

He added: “We are looking at income maximisation, looking at our retail shops’ fundraising.”

It takes £3 million each year to run the hospice and 62 per cent of that comes from public donations and fundraising. Its deficit for 2016/17 was £316,000.

Mr Marshall says he wants to reassure the public over the changes to the way the service operates.

He added: “I acknowledge change can be scary but this is aimed at widening our services, making them more accessible and in turn increasing the number of people accessing and benefiting from services and this is is being done with the full collaboration of staff.

“We have an incredible workforce, highly dedicated and fully committed.”

Keith McKellar, Ardgowan Hospice chairman, admits there will be some challenges times ahead.

He added: “Improving the financial health of the hospice will mean improved services and care for the people of Inverclyde. 

“There are challenges ahead and we will tackle them head on to ensure we arrive at this position.

“We will continue to take a responsible approach to how we manage our money, without compromising patient and family care.”