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Fears over GWH job cuts
UNIONS and patient watchdogs have expressed their fears over potential job cuts at Swindon's flagship hospital following the release of a financial statement today.
Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust, which runs the Great Western Hospital, is expected to announce an £840,000 deficit for the last financial year and that has sparked concern over further cost-cutting UNIONS and patient watchdogs have expressed their fears over potential job cuts at Swindon's flagship hospital following the release of a financial statement today.
Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust, which runs the Great Western Hospital, is expected to announce an £840,000 deficit for the last financial year and that has sparked concern over further cost-cutting l from Page 1 measures being imposed.
In October, the trust said it would be imposing a raft of savings, including clamping down on staff training, introducing a freeze on hiring new staff and a ban on buying new furniture and fittings.
More than 3,000 hospital staff were told by letter yesterday of the implications of the trust's year-end deficit, and the Great Western Hospital Patient and Public Involvement Forum believes staff cuts could now be on the agenda.
Sue Pye, a spokeswoman for the forum, said: "This forum would be extremely concerned if the staffing cuts proposed at the Great Western Hospital affected in any way the standard of care experienced by patients and we will be vigilant in checking it does not deteriorate.
"We understand that there is an increasing emphasis on minor treatments and procedures now being carried out more locally."
And Kevin Brandstatter, the GMB organiser for Swindon, blamed the Government's Private Finance Initiative schemes for any cost-saving action.
"The Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust is the latest to suffer financial problems as a result of Government policy," he said.
"The essence of the PFI project is now clear private profit first, patient care second."
But Chris Birdsall, of Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust, said a formal statement on the challenges facing the trust would be issued later today.
He said: "Staff were being briefed today on the financial position and plans for the coming year.
"A full statement will be issued to the media tomorrow once we have had the opportunity to communicate with staff first."
The trust announced at its board meeting last month that it was predicting an £840,000 deficit after clawing back £231,000 between January and February.
It broke even last year, although at one point it had a £1.6m overspend.
But a strict recovery plan drawn up by the trust's chief executive Lyn Hill-Tout wiped out the deficit, a feat the hospital was confident of repeating this year.
THE threat of job cuts at the Great Western Hospital comes just a week after Health Minister Caroline Flint praised Swindon's health chiefs for balancing their books.
Her comments followed a heated debate in which Wiltshire Tory MPs claimed the county's NHS was in meltdown.
James Gray (North Wiltshire), Michael Ancram (Devizes) and Dr Andrew Murrison (Westbury) lambasted plans by Kennet and North Wiltshire Primary Care Trust and West Wiltshire PCT to close five out of seven community hospitals.
The move follows deficits of £18m on top of inherited debts of £28m. And during Prime Minister's Question Time yesterday Tony Blair was challenged by Dr Murrison over hospital closures to tackle deficits in the NHS. Mr Blair said he could not comment in detail on the specific issues raised but funding had increased by £31m.