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Discussion on hospital's future

7 November 09 11:39 GMT

Supporters of Dorset County Hospital have met to discuss possible impacts to services if 200 jobs are cut to fill a £7m financial black hole.

Patients met with politicians in Dorchester on Friday to discuss the future of the hospital.

Oliver Letwin, MP for West Dorset, said there was "concern" from people about how they would be affected.

Jobs and other services are being reviewed after the trust said it faced a predicted deficit of £7.4m by 2010.

Mr Letwin told the BBC: "What we need to make sure is that the pressure from the top, from the NHS, doesn't force them into taking steps which would compromise quality of patient care or put the staff in an impossible position."

Jim Knight, MP for South Dorset and Minister for the South West, added that if some specialists were moved from the hospital, then transport links needed to be improved for patients.

Chairman resigned

He added: "I feel very optimistic that we can continue to provide good quality services here at the hospital and the hospital has a good future and those that people hold very dear, like maternity services, like the special baby care unit, will continue."

Supporters of the hospital raised questions of potential implications if front line staff are reduced.

Jackie Allen said: "We often hear that when people are thinking of slashing the budget that they would cut so many nurses, porters or cleaners and that's one thing I feel very strongly about, how this will impact on patient care."

Last week, the chairman of the health trust resigned saying its long-term progress should be led by someone new.

Robin SeQueira CBE served as chairman of the hospital for 12 years and will be replaced in November.

He said the hospital should expect a "period of considerable change" as the review of services took place.

A decision on possible cuts will be finalised by mid-January, a trust spokeswoman said.

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