THE GMB general union this Wednesday staged a protest over plans by South London Healthcare NHS Trust to close the maternity and accident-and-emergency departments at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup.
The trust said it had to make the closures over the winter as it could not guarantee to keep the services running because of severe staffing problems.
The protest took place at the South London Healthcare NHS Trust Board meeting held on the 29th September at in Woolwich. The Board meeting will take place at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich in the dining room conference centre.
GMB called on trust staff and members of the public attend this meeting to tell the Trust just what these services mean to the local area.
Frank Macklin GMB officer said: “GMB members are very angry and disappointed with the Trust’s recent announcement to close the departments that provide an essential service to the surrounding areas.
“GMB believe that the decision to close these services is purely a financial one. GMB also has major concerns that the existing A&E department in the Queen Elizabeth hospital will not be able to cope as it is already operating at maximum capacity thereby increasing the risks of attacks on staff from the patients using this department on a daily basis.
“The Trust management has stated that they intend to close the departments temporarily, but GMB believe that these closures will be permanent.
“The news has come as no surprise to the neighbouring trusts which have been waiting for this day to come for a long time. Darrent Valley Hospital has said that as a result of the Queen Mary’s closure it expects to see another 7,000 patients in its A&E department and also it expects to deliver another 1,000 babies.
“It has also said that it has been actively recruiting midwives, consultants and nurses to meet this additional demand.
“Since the new Trust has been formed the emphasis has been on saving as much money as quickly as possible. Nearly every member of staff has seen their terms and conditions attacked as part of the Trust’s drive to make savings. There are currently over a 1,000 admin and clerical posts at risk of redundancy as well.”