Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Call for hospital bed-closure plan to be suspended

Calls have been made for plans to close 200 beds at two Gloucestershire hospitals to be suspended immediately.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has said it needs to remove the beds to save money.

But county council leader Barry Dare said: "We will not take their proposals lying down."

The local authority called for the Trust to consult with local councils, MPs and the public before taking further action.

The way these costs have been announced is a disgrace
Councillor Barry Dare

The first phase of bed closures is due to start in April and involves 95 beds in four wards at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

Beds at Cheltenham General Hospital will also be lost.

Councillors voted unanimously on a motion urging the Trust to suspend the planned cuts.

The motion also called on the Trust to respond "fully and frankly" to an investigation into the proposals by the Conservative-led council's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Councillor Dare said there had been no public consultation on the plans.

"The way these costs have been announced is a disgrace," he said.

"I proposed this motion to send a strong message to the Hospitals Trust."

The Trust has said it must save between £27m and £30m in the 2010/11 financial year because of reductions in public sector spending for the foreseeable future.

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

Trust chief executive Dr Frank Harsent said: "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."

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