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MP in call for talks over Russells Hall Hospital cuts

Dudley | News | Published:

Dudley North MP Ian Austin is calling for talks with NHS bosses at Russells Hall Hospital over its cost-cutting plans which include the axing of the staff uniform laundry service.

Health chiefs are also reducing the opening hours of the canteen and putting up car park charges in a bid to save £15million by 2015.

Mr Austin said he was concerned by the measures, in particular the plans to ask staff to wash their uniforms at home.

"Everyone know the hospital is having to make cuts because the government has spent £20m of its budget on bureaucratic reorganisation instead of front-line care, but the trust was recently threatening to discipline staff who wore their uniforms whilst travelling to work, and now they're asking them to wash their uniforms at home.

"It's also unfair to ask staff to pick up the cost of a tumble dryer. Many will have had their pay frozen, do not have a tumble dryer, and cannot afford to get one," said Mr Austin.

He added he had has written to chief executive Paula Clark to "seek assurances that the laundry service is being closed for clinical reasons, and not just to make savings."

Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the site, said stopping the staff uniform service would save £63,000 a year. Jobs are at risk as part of the move and bosses are currently consulting staff.

Chief executive Paula Clark said staff were given thorough advice on how to wash their uniforms at home.

She added: "We have been working hard with their PFI partner Summit Healthcare (Dudley) Ltd and support services provider Interserve to see where they can make savings from non clinical services. Any decisions to reduce services or facilities that we provide are very difficult to make, but we feel it is better to make savings from non clinical services."

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Meanwhile changes to the canteen opening hours which will see it shut on weekends will save £110,000 a year.

Under the plans, it be open between 7am and 2.30pm Monday to Friday. It is currently open between 7pm and 8pm each day.

Bosses have also decided to put up car park charges from next month to help bring in £300,000 a year. But they have been criticised by councillors and one of the trust's governors, Bill Etheridge, has resigned in protest.

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