Health cuts putting patients at risk

SWINGEING cuts and overstretched staff are putting safety standards at Ipswich Hospital at risk, senior union officials have claimed today.Their stark warning comes on the day it has been revealed that the Heath Road hospital has been on black alert for the last two days - meaning that there are less than eight beds available.

SWINGEING cuts and overstretched staff are putting safety standards at Ipswich Hospital at risk, senior union officials have claimed today.

Their stark warning comes on the day it has been revealed that the Heath Road hospital has been on black alert for the last two days - meaning that there are less than eight beds available.

Concerned staff, patients and union members were out in force at a meeting last night calling to Keep The NHS public, organised by the Ipswich and District Trade Unions' Council.

And, just days after Ipswich MP Chris Mole denied that there was any crisis in the NHS, Bob Cousins, the hospital's union representative insisted that things can only get worse.


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He said: “Staff are overstretched at the moment and that can only get worse.

“Quality can only get worse, safety can only get worse and more mistakes are going to be made.”

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Beds have already been closed at the hospital as a result of the burdgeoning financial crisis in the county.

Pauline Entwistle, a steward for the Royal College of Nursing, said: “They have only closed 38 beds so far and already the cracks are beginning to show.”

Around 20 concerned members of the public heard talks from a number of union representatives as well as Dr John Lister, a key player in the national Keep Our NHS Public campaign.

In a rallying speech, Dr Lister said: “Things in Ipswich are about as bad as you will find anywhere.

“These are very worrying times and we need to find ways in which we raise awareness of what is happening to our NHS.

“We only have to lose it once and it's going to be very hard to get it back.”

Union representatives from across Suffolk spoke of the devastating impact that cuts are already having in their areas.

Cheryl Godber, a Unison representative, said: “Staff are incredibly upset that they are not able to deliver the service they want to deliver because of cuts and closures. Things are already at breaking point and something needs to be done.”

Members of the trade unions' council said they were disappointed with the turnout at the meeting but were determined to do everything possible to stop the cuts.

Teresa Mackay, secretary for the council, said: “It can be done and that's the message we've got to get out to people by standing together.”

Jan Rowsell, Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman, said the hospital had been busier because it was half-term but denied that patient safety was being compromised by the changes.

She said: “We always find that it is busier in holiday periods but we plan for this and make sure we are able to cope with the increase in demand.

“We believe that we do not need as many beds because we will be using the ones that we have got in a better way.

“It is understandable that people have concerns but patient safety will always come first.”

The hospital is currently on red alert, meaning there are less than 16 beds available.

Are you worried by the changes at Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk>

A group of trade union members and concerned members of the public will be travelling to London on November 1 to lobby parliament as part of the national Keep Our NHS Public campaign.

WEBLINK: For more information see www.keepournhspublic.com

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