Unions organise public meeting in King’s Lynn to discuss fears over health reforms

A blood testing laboratory could be moved from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, it emerged last night - as unions claimed the government's NHS reforms would damage patient care.

King's Lynn and District Trades Council, health union Unison and the Coalition for Resistance are organising a protest meeting.

They fear 'important services' could be moved from the hospital to Norwich.

In a statement issued on Friday Barbara Cummings, director of performance at the King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, said: 'No cuts have been made at the QEH as a result of the government's NHS reorganisation and we are not planning to move services to Norwich.'

Mark Weston, head of acute commissioning (west) for NHS Norfolk, said: 'Far from removing services to Norwich we are investing substantial sums of money and increasing services for people in the west of Norfolk.'

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But yesterday, hospital spokesman Steve Spray said there was a 'very early discussion' under way about part of the pathology lab, which carries out blood tests for GP surgeries.

Unions also claim nurses in maternity and some other areas face changes to shift patterns.

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When asked about the changes, Mr Spray said: 'There's been some work done about changing shift patterns for those two groups, but it hasn't got anything to do with anything the government's doing.'

Jacqueline Mulhallen from the Coalition of Resistance, said: 'They are planning to move important services from the QEH to Norwich. They also want to break up the NHS and open up the whole of the health service to private companies.'

Jo Rust, secretary of the trades council, said: 'While the Prime Minister has been forced to backtrack on parts of his health bill, this won't be enough to safeguard the NHS.'

Ministers want doctors to have more responsibility for allocating budgets. But they also want to encourage greater competition with the private sector.

The plans were put on hold after they were criticised by MPs and health unions.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb threatened to resign as special advisor to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg Norman, saying the changes were being rushed through.

The government has now agreed to make changes after an independent review called for parts of the plans to be re-written.

The public meeting takes place at St Nicholas Chapel in St Ann's Street, King's Lynn, on Tuesday, July 12 (7.30pm).

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