Send us news by text, start your message Star News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Unions meet MPs over fears Whiston and St Helens Hospital could eb forced into merger with Warrington
2:00pm Thursday 11th October 2012 in News
UNION officials have voiced fears over a potential merger of services and loss of staff if a funding crisis leads to Whiston and St Helens hospitals being taken over.
Fresh disclosures have underlined the threat of the cash strapped hospitals being put under control of Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Officials from the Staffside union – which represents hundreds of local hospital workers - were due to hold talks with Labour MPs from the region to discuss how to fight the proposals.
Whiston chiefs have still to receive guarantees that they will receive a Government bail out to plug a £20m budget black hole in the £42m annual repayment bill.
St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is tied to a mortgage following the private finance initiative that funded the £350m construction of two new hospitals.
Independent reports presented at an open board meeting of the Trust, which have been seen by the Star, detailed that talks had taken place over a potential merger of services with Warrington.
Hospital chiefs at Warrington have attempted to rubbish those statements.
However, a Conservative MP’s confirmation that talks have taken place has only served to reinforce the anxiety of hospital, workers, unions and St Helens politicians.
Anna Soubry MP, Parliamentary-under-Secretary of State in the Department of Health, answered a written Parliamentary question from Warrington MP Helen Jones which stated the Government was “aware” a partnership had been discussed.
Chiefs at Whiston have previously voiced concerns that the uncertainty is placing immense strain on NHS staff who fear a merger would threaten jobs.
Anthony Lockhart, a Unison official based at Whiston Hospital, warned about the impact a takeover by Warrington and Halton would impact on services.
“Lots of services could be merged on all three hospital sites, resulting in members of the public having to travel further for medical treatment and will also mean losses of jobs.
“Would they need two maternity units? One option could be to move that service to Whiston where we have a brand new high-tech maternity unit “Would they need two A&E departments?
“The uncertainty of not knowing what is happening is difficult for staff. Already morale is bad enough in the NHS because of all the cuts we are facing.”
If the crisis is not resolved it would make it impossible for local hospital chiefs to confidently draw up budgets to balance the books.
It severely jeopardises St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust’s plans to achieve foundation status, which the Government has said all trusts must achieve by 2014.