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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 September 2006, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Thousands join hospital cuts demo
Seventy staff are expected to get redundancy notices next week
Thousands of staff at south-west England's biggest hospital have taken part in a march and rally against planned cutbacks.

About 3,000 protesters marched from Plymouth Hoe to the city centre objecting to job losses and ward closures at Derriford Hospital.

Plymouth Hospitals Trust is proposing to close 50 beds and 400 posts to bridge a projected 25m cash gap.

The trust rejects claims that patient care will be compromised.

'Terrible risk'

Redundancy notices are expected to be issued to 70 workers, some of them thought to be nurses, at the beginning of next week.

Marchers came from a wide range of the hospital's workforce
Hospital staff taking part include a consultant, sisters, staff nurses and healthcare assistants.

Some admitted that the turnout, which mainly consisted of staff, was disappointing.

Staff trainer Alison Brewer, 41, said: "We could have had more. There are 6,500 staff at Derriford after all, but there has been a lot of support from all of the areas of the hospital and from all levels."

At the head of the march was a pipe band and a hearse carrying flowers which spelled out RIP NHS. Banners read: Save nurses, sack managers.

Iain Andrews of the union Unison, said: "This isn't just about the loss of our members' jobs, it is also about the terrible risk that the proposed cuts could bring to patients, their families and carers living in Plymouth, South Hams and east Cornwall.

"We know that Derriford is staffed by professionals who save lives on a daily basis, they are overstretched and morale is at breaking point, something has to be done."

Derriford staff
Alison Brewer and Camille Bellamy-Hillyer say staff are overstretched
Staff nurse Camille Bellamy-Hillyer, 43, who works in a coronary care ward at the hospital, said: "We are not that badly off in terms of staffing, but there is a recruitment freeze which is starting to affect work.

"There are people who have to stay back at the end of shifts.

"You have to forego breaks and psychological care."

Derriford colleague Ms Brewer said: "We cannot spend the same amount of time we used to with people.

"I was speaking to one patient yesterday who said no-one had listened to her for 10 days because they did not have the time.

"I felt so sorry for her."

She added: "Even spending two minutes with patients is difficult because we are so overstretched."

Last month some 27,000 people took part in a march protesting against a decision to cut health services and jobs in Cornwall.

Thousands march against NHS cuts
09 Sep 06 |  Lincolnshire
Hospital plan to cut 31m deficit
10 Aug 06 |  Cornwall

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