Page last updated at 09:20 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Up to 200 hospital beds in Gloucestershire to close

Up to 200 beds at two hospitals are to close to save money, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has announced.

The trust, which runs Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals, said it has to save between £27m and £30m in the 2010/11 financial year.

The first phase will see 95 beds close in four wards at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital from 1 April.

A Unison spokesman said he was "dismayed" at the announcement.

The first phase of closures will be in a rehabilitation ward, Ward 2A, Acute Care Unit B and Neurology.

The prospective savings represent a 6.5% reduction on the previous year's budget.

Staff at the hospitals, which have 1,128 in-patient beds, were told the news earlier this week.

'Times are difficult'

A trust spokesman said the decision to close between 150 and 200 beds had been made due to reductions in public sector spending for the foreseeable future.

He added the trust did not expect to make redundancies, but would look to redeploy staff.

Chief executive Dr Frank Harsent said the trust had "no choice" but to make the savings.

He added: "We do not have the right to spend taxpayers' money that we have not been given and in order to make the savings, these plans have to be ready to begin making a difference from the start of the financial year on 1 April."

Ian Ducat, regional secretary of Unison South West, said: "Closing a rehabilitation ward may deliver short term savings, but patients will take longer to recover without the specialist help they need to get back on their feet.

"We understand that times are difficult, but the loss of so many beds will have serious consequences for local people."

He said pressures on staff to deliver the same level of service would be "enormous".

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