An MP is calling on health bosses to rethink their controversial plans to reduce the opening hours of the canteen at Russells Hall Hospital.
Ian Austin has written to chief executive Paula Clark about his concerns after it was announced the canteen would shut at weekends from next month. The moves form part of controversial cost-cutting proposals aimed at saving £15 million by 2015.
Under the plans, the canteen would only be open between 7am and 2.30pm Monday to Friday.
It is currently open between 7am and 8pm each day. The Costa Coffee branch would not be affected by the changes.
Up to 65 jobs could be affected by the move and staff are currently being consulted. Mr Austin said he was concerned the moves would leave visitors and staff reliant on vending machines.
“Under these proposals the canteen would be shut all afternoon and all evening and closed entirely at weekends,” he said.
“Where are staff, working flat out on twelve hour shifts supposed to eat? And where will visitors go to get a warm meal? The hospital can’t suggest that vending machines are an acceptable alternative,” he said. Hospital chief executive Paula Clark said the move would save the trust £110,000 a year.
She has defended the decision, saying: “This decision follows a comprehensive review of footfall through the restaurant, which concluded there was very little footfall after the lunch time service and the uptake at weekends has reduced considerably.”
Mr Austin’s plea come after it emerged that lawyers were investigating nine claims from patients saying they were the victims of poor care at the hospital.