Specialist cancer nurses future in doubt

SPECIALIST nurses helping families care for terminally ill children with cancer are among the staff who could be axed from Ipswich Hospital, it emerged today.

SPECIALIST nurses helping families care for terminally ill children with cancer are among the staff who could be axed from Ipswich Hospital, it emerged today.

The nurses are trained to help children remain at home in the final days and weeks of their lives rather than be admitted to a hospital environment.

But as part of a range of cost-cutting measures, designed to help slash nearly £17m of debt, the number of nurses could be cut.

There are currently two full-time nurses and one part-time nurse, but the hospital is looking at reducing this to one full-time and one part-time nurse.

Tracy Gill, of Laurelhayes in Stoke Park, Ipswich, whose daughter Shona was cared for by a nurse until dying of cancer in 2004, said: "It's all very well for these people to sit in their offices and make these decisions but they are putting so much stress on these nurses, who already have a very stressful job anyway."

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said: “They (the nurses) provide a very sensitive and very comprehensive service which means that children who are at the end of their lives are able to have the treatment and the support they need.

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“If families decide they don't wish to bring their child in hospital and for them to be treated at home, that's the service these nurses provide.

“We know these are difficult times and difficult, decisions but we have had to look at the roles of all specialist nurses within the hospital.

“We have more five times more nurse specialists than any other hospital of the same size.”

Ms Rowsell stressed that no definite decisions have been made and that the hospital are looking at ways the services could continue to be provided.

She said: “At the moment this is just a proposal. Detailed consultation is taking place with staff and our commissioners, the PCT, before any concrete decisions are made."

Andrew Reed, the hospital's chief executive, said; "Our expectation is that the service will continue, perhaps not in exactly the same way, but we would want the services to remain.

"That's the basis on which we are working at the moment."

The moves are part of a package of controversial proposals being implemented to try to bring the debt-ridden hospital back into balance.

Other measures including cutting 357 jobs, closing 71 beds and shutting up to four operating theatres.

Has your family benefited from the help of these nurses? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk>

WEBLINKS:

www.ipswichhospital.nhs.uk

www.eveningstar.co.uk/news

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