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£90,000 a year post at Trust that is £125million in DEBT

PUBLISHED: 17:53 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:43 25 August 2010

A PUBLIC relations worker is set to be hired for up to £90,000 a year to oversee the closure of a hospital s emergency units.

A PUBLIC relations worker is set to be hired for up to £90,000 a year to oversee the closure of a hospital's emergency units.

South London Healthcare NHS Trust has advertised for its director of communications to be based at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS), where the A&E unit, children's services and doctor-led maternity services are due to be axed.

The high-paid posting comes as the Trust, which is £125 million in the red, prepares to save up to £30 million a year by closing hundreds of beds to create focused teams providing "safer, high quality" care.

The advert for a new PR boss was entitled "Challenge your creativity", with responsibilities including "acting swiftly to limit any reputational risks".

The candidate will need to "hit the ground running" and create a "whole new brand" for the 6,000-strong Trust.

Formed on April 1, the merged Trust represents hospitals in Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich, and is due to set about a two-year centralisation programme.

The scheme is hoped to make the QMS site into a 'cutting edge' centre of excellence for planned surgery by moving all emergency services except a midwife unit to surrounding hospitals.

Doctors expect 80 per cent of its patients to continue being treated there.

Health chiefs have argued for services to become concentrated onto fewer sites with fewer beds, on the basis that current hospital cover is stretched.

This week the Times received a letter in which some 16 of the Trust's senior clinicians came out in support of the plans.

Chief executive Dr Chris Streather, told the Times in March that the new Trust can have fewer beds through increased efficiency, and must do so to avoid "racking up debt".

Today he added: "The merger and the introduction of the A Picture of Health changes give us the opportunity to re-examine the ways in which we work to ensure that patients who come to any of our sites have the best possible treatment and experience.

"This will include looking at more ways of treating patients without them needing to be admitted into hospital."

However, the Trust has still not released the controversial figures that will reveal the full extent of closures at Queen Mary's and the part-expansion of surrounding hospitals.

After a public consultation on the plans last year, A Picture of Health planners predicted that 491 medical, maternity, paediatric and surgical beds would be closed across south-east London.

QMS would lose 86 per cent of its acute beds, whilst Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich would lose 15 per cent.

One in four acute beds in Bromley hospitals would be closed, not including 66 beds at Orpington Hospital, whilst University Hospital Lewisham would lose a fifth.

Health campaigner Sue Sulis said: "It is clear that Primary Care Trusts are threatening that, unless beds are cut, they will not help by writing off their debts.

"We have seen this before in Bromley and the effect on patient care was catastrophic.

"They never mentioned once in their consultation that all these hundreds of beds would be closed.

"I hope their new communications advisor will help them come clean with all of their intentions."

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

Consultants and senior clinicians at South London Healthcare NHS Trust who wrote to the Times stating their support for the changes:

- David Sulch, Transitional Medical Director

- Ali Bokhari, Consultant Paediatrician, DME & Associate Medical Director

- Liz Sawicka, Director Clinical Health Informatics, Medical Director

- Astrid Osbourne, Head of Midwifery & Supervisor of Midwives

- Margaret Dalziel, Associate Director & Head Nurse, Children & Young People Care Group

- Sudhir Rao, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Lead Clinician in Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgery

- Anil Lakhani, Consultant Haematologist

- Ian Stell, Emergency Medicine Consultant

- Andrew Hobart, Emergency Medicine Consultant

- Anthony Jenkins, Consultant in Gastroenterology

- Bob Richards, Consultant Physician

- Nigel Perks, Consultant Obstetrician

- Jennifer Wicking, Consultant Biochemist, Clinical Director of Pathology

- Kislaya Thakur , Consultant General Surgeon, Clinical Director Surgery

- William Scott, Interim Medical DirectorAli Bokhari, Consultant Paediatrician, DME & Associate Medical Director

- Liz Sawicka, Director Clinical Health Informatics, Medical Director

- Astrid Osbourne, Head of Midwifery & Supervisor of Midwives

- Margaret Dalziel, Associate Director & Head Nurse, Children & Young People Care Group

- Sudhir Rao, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Lead Clinician in Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgery

- Anil Lakhani, Consultant Haematologist

- Ian Stell, Emergency Medicine Consultant

- Andrew Hobart, Emergency Medicine Consultant

- Anthony Jenkins, Consultant in Gastroenterology

- Bob Richards, Consultant Physician

- Nigel Perks, Consultant Obstetrician

- Jennifer Wicking, Consultant Biochemist, Clinical Director of Pathology

- Kislaya Thakur , Consultant General Surgeon, Clinical Director Surgery

- William Scott, Interim Medical Director

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