Campaigners against cuts at the southwest London hospital have warned that St George’s Hospital, Tooting, could be taken over by a private company as it faces making ‘savings’ of £55m this year as a result of the government’s £20bn NHS cuts programme.
Public sector union Unison has warned that such ‘savings’ will mean the loss of 500 posts, nearly ten per cent of the workforce, including doctors and nurses, the closure of at least three wards, 100 beds being axed and a cap on the number of births.
Unison has also warned that a further 486 jobs are being slashed at nearby Kingston Hospital in Surrey.
The St George’s trust has confirmed that at least 200 posts will go, claiming that it is ‘planning to avoid compulsory redundancies’.
Mike Squires of the local Keep Our NHS Public group said the cuts will mean an unavoidable deterioration in services at ‘an already overstretched hospital’.
He warned at the weekend: ‘This is just the start.
‘Private companies want to take over the running of our NHS including hospitals like St George’s.’
Taking into account what happened to Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Cambrideshire, he added: ‘If St George’s gets into financial difficulty a private company may step in and take it over.’
St George’s has declined to comment on the risk of privatisation, but said in a statement that ‘St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust is not immune from the financial challenges currently facing the wider NHS’.
Trust chief executive David Astley has confirmed that he has ‘personally briefed clinical leaders, union representatives and staff across the trust to set out the scale of the challenges that we face.’
The decision to cut funding from primary care trusts for Kingston Hospital by £13.1m, has led to 486 posts being axed.
The hospital has said it also expects a 40 per cent reduction in accident and emergency attendances and a 38 per cent reduction in outpatient appointments.
Unison has claimed that a consortium of leading Kingston doctors were behind the funding cut but GPs have insisted this was not the case.