Calls for hospital chiefs' pay cut to keep G5 ward open

MPs will discuss cystic fibrosis drug during debate on Monday

A LEADING Tory councillor has called for Portsmouth Hospital Trust's top earners to take a pay cut to keep QA Hospital's G5 ward open.

The hospital has claimed its plans to shut the ward, which provided care for terminally ill patients, were made because too few people had access to it.

But it has since admitted financial pressures also played a part in their decision.

Councillor Alistair Thompson, deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council's Tory group, said: 'We must make sure if we try to get the trust to change its decision that it doesn't just close down other wards, or remove mobile end-of-life care to other wards in the hospital

'We must tell the trust we won't accept cuts anywhere in the field of end-of-life care. Instead, I think we should take money from the highest paid people in the trust and use that to provide this vital service to the public.

'That may not be the most Conservative or capitalist thing to suggest, but people in this city need palliative care, mobile and at G5, and we must be able to keep both.'

Cllr Thompson's comments came in a full council debate on G5, called by Lib Dem Councillor Les Stevens, who spoke emotionally about his own experiences with the ward.

He said: 'My partner took ill a couple of years ago. The staff on G5 cared for him until he passed away, and looked after my mother, who was heartbroken. It was second-to-none. They did a wonderful job.

'I would rather have had my partner at home, but he was too ill to be out of hospital. G5 was a good place to be able to go, and the staff there did an excellent job. So I know how important the ward can be when people are at their lowest ebb.'

Since the trust's proposals were announced, a number of protests have been made by members of the public and councillors.

Councillor Mike Hancock paid tribute to them.

He said: 'People have been telling the health authority it had made a mistake and was wrong. They were joined by councillors and The News, and they were right to do so. They made up petitions, stood in the streets in all weathers, campaigning to keep the ward open. But they were ignored by the Trust.'

The council voted unanimously in favour of continued work to keep G5 open.

The hospital's trust said it could not comment on Cllr Thompson's proposal, unless it was made as an official request.