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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 April 2006, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Patients angry over hospital cuts
Worcestershire Royal Hospital
Patients in Kidderminster have to travel to Worcester for A&E
Staff, patients and campaigners have said 720 job losses at three hospitals will affect the quality of care.

The Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has said it needs to make the job cuts to help tackle 30m debts.

Health chiefs have said patient care at the Worcestershire Royal in Worcester, the Alexandra in Redditch, and the Kidderminster Hospital will not be hit.

But one campaigner said people were scared of getting ill for fear that they will not get the right treatment.

'A sad day'

Pat Rubery is from the Save the Alex campaign which has fought to keep A&E and maternity services in Redditch

She told BBC Hereford and Worcester TV: "I am very concerned. I worked at the Alex on the first day it opened and to see it in this sort of mess is absolutely awful.

Janie Thomas
It is inevitable, there has to be some level of service cuts that affect people
Janie Thomas

"People in Redditch are afraid to be ill because we don't know what services we are going to get. It is a very sad day."

Kidderminster Hospital has already lost its A&E unit and was the subject of a political campaign that got Dr Richard Taylor elected as Wyre Forest MP.

Christine Parker, a health worker at the hospital, said: "I think people are worried for their jobs and they cannot cut back here anymore. There is nothing much more to cut back on."

Janie Thomas, from Wyre Forest Patients Forum, said she believed waiting times would be affected by the cuts.

"That is going to be the real problem. For procedures, for scans, for those sorts of things. It is inevitable, there has to be some level of service cuts that affect people."

Urgent meeting

In recent weeks, hospitals across England have announced large job cuts in a bid to balance the books.

Worcester MP Michael Foster said he was seeking an urgent meeting with hospital bosses to clarify assurances given to county MPs about patient care and waiting times.

"Patients and the public at large need reassuring that job losses on this scale will not affect the care they receive," he said.

John Rostill, hospital chief executive
John Rostill said he would not step down over the job cuts

Peter Luff, MP for Mid Worcestershire, said he had written to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt inviting her to come and speak to staff whose jobs are at risk.

The cuts mean one-in-seven staff at the hospitals will lose their jobs.

John Rostill, chief executive of the hospital trust, said he intended to oversee the plans to reduce the 30m deficit.

"I am one of the most experienced chief executives in the country. It would be inappropriate for me to jump ship at this particular time.

"One of things that I am sure people are concerned about - as I am - is the uncertainty, we need to get past this period of uncertainty."

The job losses proposal is subject to consultation with staff and is expected to save the trust about 8m this financial year and 16m in the next one, starting April 2007.

The trust now employs 4,500 staff and has frozen more than 100 posts, which will count towards the 720 jobs to go.

See the reaction to 720 job losses at three hospitals


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