Unison attacks heartless Herts hospital cuts proposal

Written By: Tribune web editor
Published: October 5, 2007 Last modified: October 5, 2007

by René Lavanchy

MOVES to downsize two of Hertfordshire’s four general hospitals have been dismissed as “cost-driven” and medically unproven by Unison in a report this week.
The union argues that plans to take acute services away from Hemel Hempstead and Welwyn Garden City hospitals amount to a closure, since they will lose all their in-patient beds.

And it says the real reason for the cuts – in contrast to plans to build a new hospital four years ago – are that the National Health Service severely underfunds Hertfordshire.

Tracey Lambert, Unison eastern region’s head of health, said: “We think the proposals are cost driven”, saying the east of England received £800 million less than the NHS national average.

East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust’s consultation says: “Doctors and nurses… are convinced that they will be able to deliver better, safer and more effective care from a single acute site.”

But Unison says the cuts will reduce the number of beds by 20 per cent in a county where bed occupancy is at 95 per cent.