London hospitals announce staff layoffs

Feb. 18, 2011 at 1:25 PM

LONDON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Two London hospitals plan to lay off almost 1,000 staff members despite U.K. government pledges to protect the country's National Health Service.

St. George's Hospital said it was laying off 500 personnel, including nurses and some senior doctors, and closing three wards with the loss of about 100 beds, The Guardian reported Thursday.

A hospital spokesman said the reductions were part of an attempt to save $89 million in 2011-12.

"St. George's Healthcare [trust] is not immune from the financial challenges currently facing the wider NHS," the spokesman said.

Kingston Hospital announced it would shed 486 staff members, almost 20 percent of its workforce, during the next five years.

Hospitals in England are struggling to meet a $32 million cost-saving drive and decisions by the U.K. government to restrict budget increases to 0.1 percent a year and to reduce fees hospitals receive for treating patients.

Health Minister Andrew Lansley and Prime Minister David Cameron have repeatedly said the NHS would escape the reductions on public spending, The Guardian said.

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