Job fears as Royal Free cuts �40m

THE Royal Free Hospital is to axe �40million from its budget next year under a programme of government cuts.

The news comes as a top health official warned NHS bosses that, as a result of the cuts, hospitals are facing huge job losses, a reduction in frontline services, increased waiting times and organisational ‘failure’.

In a letter leaked this week, Sue Slipman, director of the Foundation Trust Network – which represents hospitals with foundation status and those, like the Royal Free, that are applying for it – told NHS deputy chief executive David Flory that the cuts under the government’s Cost Improvement Plan were much deeper than expected.

She said: “For many organisations, this means serious financial stress that will lead to the loss of many thousands of jobs and will seriously endanger waiting times and services for vulnerable patients, as well as threatening organisation survival.”

But Neil Woodnick, of patients’ group Camden LINk, said it would be keeping a close eye on matters to ensure frontline services were not affected.

“As far as the Royal Free directors are concerned, it is manageable,” he said.

“We would only be concerned if it impacted on frontline services. Considering that the government has said that any cuts will not impact frontline services, we will be monitoring the situation to see if that’s true.”

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A hospital spokeswoman said: “Like many NHS trusts, the Royal Free has been looking at ways to make large efficiency savings while continuing to provide excellent care for our patients and value for taxpayers’ money.

“Examples of our savings initiatives include merging back office functions with other organisations. The trust is in a strong financial position and is on track to achieve its savings plans for the current financial year while ending the year with a predicted budget surplus of �6.5 million.”