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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 13:41 GMT
Light bulb hospital 'is meanest'
Epsom General Hospital
About 40 light bulbs were removed to save money
A hospital that took down light bulbs to save cash has been dubbed "the meanest in Britain" by NHS campaigners.

Staff at St Helier Hospital will protest outside the building on 3 March in a national action day over NHS cuts.

Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust, which runs hospitals in Surrey and London and needs to save 24m, defended the light bulb step as a finance recovery move.

But Health Emergency said management consultants were getting "a fat fee", while staff morale was "rock bottom".

Geoff Martin, spokesman of the NHS pressure group, said: "St Helier is the meanest hospital in Britain and is an example of everything that is wrong in the NHS.

"Staff morale is at rock bottom and the trust is being run by management consultants getting paid a fat fee for dreaming up the most outrageous penny-pinching cuts."

We will not waste public money
Trust chief executive, Graham Smith

And Kevin O'Brien, spokesman for Unison, the union which represents health workers, said: "Staff are furious at the way their services are being ripped apart by wave after wave of cuts and threats of redundancy."

About 40 light bulbs were taken down in hospital corridors and communal areas to cut the trust's 3m yearly electricity bill, but clinical areas were unaffected, the trust confirmed on Wednesday.

The trust is aiming to cut 480 posts and close 200 beds over 18 months - 80 beds had already been closed and posts were being reduced by not filling vacant ones and cutting down on bank and agency staff.

Chief Executive Graham Smith said: "We will not waste public money and as far as possible we will make savings on areas such as energy costs rather than putting jobs at risk."

He said the financial recovery plan would ensure the trust balanced its books by March 2008, and added the trust had to respond to changes in the NHS and in the way medicine was delivered.


SEE ALSO
NHS cash-saving light bulb move
14 Feb 07 |  England
NHS cuts spark Valentine message
10 Feb 07 |  England
Patients 'must wear home clothes'
05 Oct 06 |  Southern Counties
Hospital staff told to empty bins
29 Sep 06 |  Southern Counties

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