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Angry hospital staff protest in Southport

Revol | 18.07.2006 16:55 | Health | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | Liverpool

Workers facing redundancy staged a protest at plans to cut 83 jobs from Southport and Ormskirk hospitals. More than 50 members of Amicus and Unison unions staged a protest against the cuts outside the Southport site from noon until 2pm yesterday.

As previously reported on Liverpool Indymedia, many people will be sacked and many unnamed patients will die, because Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust have been ordered to claw back fourteen million pounds over two years.

A trust spokesman said a vacancy freeze and voluntary redundancy scheme had helped save £750,000. But he said the compulsory redundancies were necessary to achieve the trust's overall staff savings target of £2.5m.

Amicus yesterday said the trust had failed to say what savings the job cuts will make or give assurances on the effect on patient provision.

Union official Debbie Brannan announced a second protest would take place at Ormskirk, at the same time on Friday.

Brannan - who failed in her bid to be Labour candidate for Burnley at the last general election - said: "The protests are the beginning of our campaign to try and reverse these decisions. Our message to the trust is clear - we won't stand for these job cuts.

"Our members and patients shouldn't be left in the dark about such vital decisions which unions say will have a devastating blow on staff and patients in both hospitals."

In March, it was revealed the trust was considering a series of proposals by London consultants McKinsey, including one to move Southport's casualty department to Ormskirk. The move would leave the resort with only a walk-in medical centre for emergencies.

It follows the transfer of Southport's children's A&E department to Ormskirk, which caused outrage among parents three years ago.

However, the bigger question remains: why do hospital trusts have to pay all this money back? Nationwide, the deficit stands at £500 million, which is just 1.5% of the government's annual defence budget.

Protests are fine, and they help to raise awareness of the issues, but a massive strike is needed within the NHS, which would force the government to backtrack on its privatisation and cuts agenda. Working class members of the public also need to support health workers in any way we can, or we face the loss of services we rely on to survive.

The next protest is at Ormskirk & District General Hospital on Friday, 21st July, between 12 and 2. Why not go along and show your support?