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Pickets fight to save unit

PUBLISHED: 17:15 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:21 25 August 2010

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

DOZENS of people 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: "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."

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.

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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