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Posted on 10 January 2013 at 15:31 GMT

Protest outside Rotherham hospital, 9.1.13, photo by Alistair Tice

Protest outside Rotherham hospital, 9.1.13, photo by Alistair Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Hundreds of jobs at risk at Rotherham hospital

Alistair Tice

Last night, 9th January, 20 trade unionists and socialists (TUSC* supporters) protested at Rotherham hospital before presenting a 3,000 signature petition to the Foundation Trust governors, opposing the drastic cuts they are proposing to local NHS services.

In October, Brian James, then the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust chief executive, proposed a "smaller hospital, with substantially fewer beds" and a smaller workforce to save 50 million over the next four years.

TUSC made fighting these cuts the main policy of our campaign in the Rotherham parliamentary byelection held in November.

We have continued the petition since and last night's protest was the next step in our campaign. TUSC received widespread media coverage with two local papers, three radio stations and BBC North news reporting on the protest and petition.

Brian James then retired, no doubt on a fat cat pension, leaving 3,500 staff not knowing whether they would even have a job after Xmas.

Hundreds of nurses, therapists, clerical and technical staff and some managers were then issued with "at risk of redundancy notices" in the week before Xmas. 500 jobs are at risk with possibly around 200 compulsory redundancies, including frontline nurses, health visitors and community staff.

Many staff remaining will face "down-banding" ie pay cuts for the same job, and possibly privatisation of some departments.

Three wards are earmarked for closure including A6 ward for the elderly, losing 33 beds.

And the management want a 20% cut in non-elective surgery and treatments.

Ralph Dyson, our TUSC candidate in the recent byelection said:

"If these cuts go ahead, Rotherham will be reduced to not much more than a glorified cottage hospital.

"Why should the NHS staff and people of Rotherham have to pay this price when Tory cuts and privatisation, and Trust mismanagement are to blame.

"The failed electronic patient records system cost millions and still it doesn't work! They spent 5 million alone on a new frontage nobody needed.

"They shift staff to new buildings while other perfectly good buildings are being bulldozed".

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