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Pet Peeves: Conservatives Howl at Proposal to Share NHS Hosp by Pets and People

A bid to utilize a debt ridden NHS hospital's radiotherapy department to dogs and cats ailing from cancer drew criticism from the union and the conservatives//.

To effectively manage the £24m debt at Ipswich hospital in Suffolk, suggestions came in from the staff that a pets’ clinic could be instituted on Saturdays to put the under utilized equipments to good use and also deal with the huge debt. According to the calculations made by the managers, the earnings from the Saturday pet clinic would at least help pay the salaries of the nursing staff.

Assuring no disadvantage to patients, hospital spokeswoman, Jane Rowsell said, "More than 700 ideas were generated by staff to find ways of increasing the money that we have or to find better ways of saving money. No patient will be disadvantaged by this. Our radiotherapy staff have a special interest in this field and wanted to explore whether the equipment could be used in this way on a Saturday morning, when nobody is using it. I am told that radiotherapy has proved to be very effective in treating dogs and cats with cancer." The lady also confirmed that anti allergy drapes would be used and no stone would be left unturned to keep the hospital spick and span.

A spokeswoman for Unison, which speaks out for the multitiude of hospital workers, said "There must be other places where people are waiting for treatment or treatment could be speeded up. That would be a much better, proper use of the facilities, and £50,000 is neither here or there in terms of debt. Why not use the hospital for humans as it is intended - not for dogs and cats?"

The shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley, did not bat an eyelid as he shot down the proposal, saying, "These are the lengths the NHS is being driven to by the government's financial mismanagement and the way deficits are impacting on hospitals. One would normally expect NHS equipment to be fully occupied providing services to NHS patients ."

Katherine Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Patients' Association, said "Do we really have to resign ourselves to such desperate measures as to begin treating animals where people are treated? Is this really the way forward? I hope this idea never gets off the ground. I think it is a disaster waiting to happen. Surely there are other ways of identifying areas where costs could be reduced? Let's keep hospitals for humans.

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