Ian Austin

Independent for Dudley North

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Russells Hall Chief: Cuts threaten patient care

Dudley North MP Ian Austin today demanded Government ministers sort out the financial crisis at Russells Hall Hospital in his constituency.

He spoke out at Health Question in the House of Commons after the hospital’s chief executive warned that budget reductions are putting “care at risk” and that plans for a new urgent care centre are being put in danger.

Russells Hall has already announced that one in ten of the hospital’s 4,200 staff will lose their jobs as a result of government rules that cut spending by £12 million every year.

In a letter sent to Dudley MP Ian Austin this week hospital boss Paula Clark says that “excessive efficiency requirements place care at risk” with Russells Hall forced to cut spending by up to £18 million next year.

She says that “the scale of the financial challenge has reached unprecedented and unviable levels” and that “under these circumstances, [NHS providers] can no longer guarantee safe and sustainable care”.

She adds that the spending cuts would mean the hospital “could not guarantee our ability to maintain quality or invest in improvements to patient care and services … these include the permanent purpose built urgent care centre, upgrading ward and clinic areas, and new hybrid theatre for vascular surgery.”

The letter also criticises rules that mean hospitals like Russells Hall get paid a fraction of the costs of treatment for rare conditions and that reallocate £5 million in locally made savings to areas that have overspent.

Dudley MP Ian Austin has said that local patients will rightly be concerned about the future of their local hospital, and has written to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt urging him to address the concerns laid out in Paula Clark’s letter.

Ian Austin said:

“Like any other local family, we queue up at Russells Hall when we’re ill. Everyone knows the pressure the hospital is under.

“Local people are really worried about what will happen if the hospital has to lose one in ten staff, and now we have it in black and white – these cuts threaten patient care.

“It could even mean that the urgent care centre that is supposed to replace the Holly Hall Walk-in Centre never gets built.

“We desperately need a government that takes this NHS crisis seriously and takes action to support frontline staff in places like Dudley.”

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