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Warrington Hospital denies discussions to move unit have taken place
11:30am Thursday 20th September 2012 in News
HOSPITAL union officials have expressed fears a merger with St Helens could lead to the end of babies being born in the town.
Warrington Hospital has denied discussions with St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have taken place regarding a takeover after a report found St Helens need to find £20 million to gain foundation status.
But Anthony Lockhart, Unison branch secretary for St Helens and Knowsley, has warned any proposals to solve the funding crisis by merging Whiston and St Helens hospitals with Warrington would be ‘fiercely opposed’.
He added: “If Whiston and St Helens were to be taken over by Warrington then this could have a big impact on the residents of the town.
“Would they need two marternity units?
“One option could be to move that service to Whiston where we have a new high-tech unit and could result in no more Warringtonians.
“We also have a top class A&E department so would they move this service to Whiston too?
“They’re not going to close us down when Warrington is in need of repair and you have got a new hospital with state-of-the-art facilities.
“Lots of services could be merged on all three hospital sites resulting in the public travelling further for medical treatment and the loss of jobs.”
The Government is holding out supplying cash from a bail out fund after St Helens and Knowsley Trust was saddled with £42 million yearly bills to repay a £350 million private finance initiative that funded the construction of two hospitals.
Mr Lockhart believes the only options for St Helens is merging with another trust or being taken over by a private company.
Warrington North MP Helen Jones added: “The local MPs, myself, Dave Watts and Derek Twigg, have written asking for an urgent meeting with the secretary of state.
“It is clearly worrying that these discussions are still going on.
“The Government should fund St Helens and Knowsley properly instead of trying to pay for Whiston buildings through a merger with Warrington and Halton and the removal of services from Warrington.
“This is not about improving services it results from the Government’s under funding of the NHS.”
Mel Pickup, chief executive of Warrington Hospitals, said: “Warrington and Halton Hospitals is performing well and there is currently a lot of new investment into our facilities.
“Our A&E services now see more than 100,000 patients a year and we’ve invested £1.4 million to redesign the department this year.
“We see more than 3,000 births each year and, with changes to maternity services in Greater Manchester, we expect that to grow as more mums-to-be choose us.
“These recent reports are solely based around issues at their trust, not ours, and our focus is very much on sensible investment and to create more capacity for the services that our patients need.”