Hospital cuts must not hit frontline staff

STOWMARKET/IPSWICH: Today The Evening Star is re-energising a campaign to protect the vital frontline staff at Ipswich Hospital.

With hospital finances in their own “intensive care unit” a total of 250 redundancies is in the offing at Heath Road.

Cuts are expected in many areas, but some specialist nurses feel they are particularly vulnerable.

Cancer patient Claire Blair is today relieved after her fears of losing the specialist breast cancer nurse, who she dubs her “guardian angel”, were allayed despite a review by the hospital to look at all departments for cuts.

Though this is good news for breast cancer patients, there are fears that other key frontline jobs could be under threat.

In a widespread cost-cutting programme, all staff at Ipswich Hospital have been offered voluntary redundancy and every department faces having to make savings.

Mrs Blair, 38, from Stowmarket, has survived for five years after being given just two weeks to live in 2006.

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She attributes her ongoing survival to the fantastic support she has been receiving from her breast specialist nurse.

Mrs Blair says the trust that runs the hospital MUST keep all its specialist nurses amid growing fears that some may be axed.

Although there are believed to be fears among some staff about job losses, hospital bosses are keen to assure people that no decisions have been made yet.

A spokesman said no decisions had been made on how the cuts would be implemented across the departments but that the breast cancer team would not be cut.

Mrs Blair, a mother of three, said the trust had to safeguard its specialists and has even been to Westminster this week to discuss the issue with Paul Burstow, Minister of State for the Department of Health.

She said: “They do a fantastic job and the services they provide are second-to-none. As I’m sure the whole of Suffolk is aware, Ipswich Hospital is struggling with funding.

“They can’t take it away from people who are dying, surely?”

Mrs Blair, who lives with husband Mark and children Abbi, eight, Lolli, six, and Micki, five, still receives treatment every three weeks and is able to contact her breast specialist nurse around the clock.

She said: “I live with the disease and have lots of problems. [The breast specialist nurse] is my source of contact and helps me with whatever problems I have. Let’s save all these important people – they are unsung heroes.

“Obviously my situation is a life-threatening illness and is close to my heart. Every department within the hospital is important.

“They need to stop having accountants try to run our hospital and try having some real people who know what illnesses are all about.

“Decisions [about cuts] should be made by people with an understanding of what the illnesses actually are – not by some pen-pushers who probably have private healthcare anyway.”

The Evening Star Editor Nigel Pickover said: “Save Our Angels has been successful in the past and we will hold Ipswich Hospital to account on each and every decision it makes over frontline staff, including specialist nurses.”

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