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A&E AXE AT THE HOSPITAL WHERE NHS WAS BORN; Casualty may shut at night to save pounds 19m.

Byline: NICK OWENS

SAVAGE Tory cutbacks have finally sliced into the very birthplace of the NHS.

The first hospital to offer free health care in 1948 is set to lose its 24-hour A&E ward.

Now 999 patients calling between midnight and 8am will be rushed past historic Trafford General to other units in Manchester to save up to pounds 19million a year.

Its casualty department is one of six in the UK facing cuts by a Government hacking pounds 20billion from the NHS budget by 2015.

Trafford's night-time closure is being sanctioned by trust bosses even though A&E doctors there have to treat patients in corridors because it is so overstretched.

Campaigners yesterday warned the plan would "sound the death knell" for the hospital where nurses formed a guard of honour for Health Minister Aneurin Bevan at the NHS launch in July 1948.

Matthew Finnegan, of Save Traf-ford General, warned: "Patients lives are being put on the line. Ambulances will have to drive past Trafford General to get to Manchester Royal Infirmary or another hospital. We must save this service."

The closure plan is part of the government's review of A&E services which means trusts merging casualty wards between neighbouring hospitals to save money. Bosses at Trafford General claim its unit is too small to operate around the clock.

PETITION So patients will have to be taken to Salford Royal, Manchester Royal Infirmary or Wythenshawe hospitals.

The plan will be put out to public consultation and thousands have signed a petition against it.

Elsewhere, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust wants to downgrade A&E services at Worcestershire Royal Hospital or Alexandra Hospital.

And in London health chiefs want to close units at Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Central Middlesex and Ealing Hospitals. A spokesman for the Patients Association said: "It is unacceptable that wards should be earmarked for closure when patients are facing longer delays on A&E."

Geoff Martin, from pressure group London Health Emergency, added: "It's sad the hospital where the NHS was born should be dragged into these shameful cuts."

The closure plans come just days after a poll revealed more than a third of hospitals treat A&E patients on trolleys in corridors because wards are so full.

The Nursing Standard survey also found thousands wait more than six hours to see a doctor.

Others are being sent to inappropriate wards for treatments putting their safety at risk and placing pressure on staff not trained to cope with casualty patients.

Defending the Trafford plan, Dr Simon Musgrave of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Most people will not notice any difference.

"Seventy five per cent of what we currently do at the hospital will continue to be done there."

CAPTION(S):

Sylvia Beckingham, first ever patient at the hospital, with Aneurin Bevan at the NHS launch in 1948
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 26, 2012
Words:475
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