Criticism over animal hospital proposal

IPSWICH Hospital's proposals to open its doors to dogs and cats to raise extra funds were today branded a “disaster waiting to happen”.AS revealed in Saturday's Evening Star the hospital trust is proposing to use its state-of-the-art radiotherapy equipment, which lies dormant at weekends, to treat family pets with cancer in special Saturday morning clinics.

IPSWICH Hospital's proposals to open its doors to dogs and cats to raise extra funds were today branded a “disaster waiting to happen”.

AS revealed in Saturday's Evening Star the hospital trust is proposing to use its state-of-the-art radiotherapy equipment, which lies dormant at weekends, to treat family pets with cancer in special Saturday morning clinics.

The proposal - believed to be the first of its kind in the country - is one of the measures included in the hospital's financial recovery plan, drawn up to help pay debts of more than £24 million.

Bosses have estimated it could earn the hospital around £50,000 a year.

However, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “These are the lengths the NHS is being driven to by the Government's financial mismanagement and the way deficits are impacting on hospitals.

“One would normally expect NHS equipment to be fully occupied providing services to NHS patients.”

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Patients' Association spokeswoman Katherine Murphy said she was horrified by the idea.

“Do we really have to resign ourselves to such desperate measures as to begin treating animals where people are treated?” she said. “Is this really the way forward?

“I hope this idea never gets off the ground. I think it is a disaster waiting to happen. There are so many issues surrounding this such as infection.

“Surely there are other ways of identifying areas where costs could be reduced?

“We have got vets and premises that are ideal for animals. Let's keep hospitals for humans.”

Hospital spokeswoman Jan Rowsell said that radiotherapy staff came up with the controversial idea to try and help solve the hospital's cash crisis.

She said: “We have no waiting lists for radiotherapy equipment at the moment and there would be absolutely no question of us doing this if we did.

“No patient will be disadvantaged by this. Our state-of-the-art equipment is used to deliver very high calibre treatment for patients. Our radiotherapy staff have a special interest in this field and wanted to explore whether the equipment could be used in this way on a Saturday morning when nobody is using it. The important thing to stress is that this is only a proposal at the moment.”

N What do you think of the proposal? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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