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Campaigners rally to save surgical unit from the axe

PUBLISHED: 17:03 17 September 2008 | UPDATED: 09:30 12 August 2010

Bromley
22-07-08
Orpington Hospital protest

Bromley 22-07-08 Orpington Hospital protest

DOZENS of protestors rallied against the closure of a hospital surgical unit refurbished just five years ago at a cost of £9 million. Residents, patients and John Horam MP picketed at the planned surgical unit at Orpington Hospital last Friday. It on

DOZENS of protestors rallied against the closure of a hospital surgical unit refurbished just five years ago at a cost of £9 million.

Residents, patients and John Horam MP picketed at the planned surgical unit at Orpington Hospital last Friday.

It only opened in 2003 yet it is to be axed because health bosses say it isn't needed and the move will save £1 million a year.

The extra patients will be referred to Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH), Farnborough, which is crippled by £99 million debt.

Retired Peter Young, 64, of Vincent Close, Orpington, said: "My wife comes here because she suffers from a number of illnesses. If she has to go to Farnborough it's going to be an ordeal for her, especially if something happens to me.

"The staff are excellent here, the wards are clean and the waiting times aren't too bad. "Whenever we go to Farnborough, it's appalling. We wait for two or three hours."

Asked whether the PRUH would be able to cope with the extra patients, Mr Young said: "No. It's crowded as it is. I really hope we can save this unit. It wasn't long ago that they refurbished it. It doesn't make sense."

Dozens of people who had planned to attend the protest couldn't because of the bus driver strike.

The crowd unanimously shouted 'yes' when it was suggested that Bromley NHS Trust chief executive Mike Marchment, who is currently on a salary of £1,200 per day should take a pay cut to make savings.

Sue Sulis, from the Community Care Protection Group, which campaigns on healthcare issues in Bromley borough, agreed that the PRUH wouldn't cope.

She said: "I am absolutely dismayed by the incompetence shown in planning here. Why are they closing a perfectly good unit which only opened five years ago and sending people to a hospital which is already way behind in their targets?

"The worrying thing about the 209 cancelled operations at the surgical unit is that they have all been cancelled by the hospital, not patients.

"Bromley Hospitals Trust say the unit is over capacity and that it is not needed, then why are they cancelling so many operations? It is a contradiction. It is the patients and their families which will suffer and that is unforgivable."

A spokesman for Bromley Hospitals said: "Changes that we have made to accident and emergency mean that we do now have the capability to provide surgical beds at the PRUH.

"These are changes that we have made since January and we hope to be on target by December for orthopaedic surgery waiting lists.

"We have to make savings. We have brought staff in house to make them and to redirect money at patient care.

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