Consultants at a hard-up NHS hospital have been asked to dust their own shelves and empty their bins as part of an economy drive.
Heart surgeons and gynaecologists at Milton Keynes General Hospital are among staff who have been issued with dusters and bin bags and told they will have to roll up their sleeves if they want to maintain the standard of cleanliness to which they have been accustomed.
But they have been spared the job of scrubbing the lavatories. That task will continue to be done by the cleaners. "At first we thought it was a hoax," said a consultant at the hospital. "I never thought I would see the day when a consultant was asked to empty dustbins." A memo sent to all staff by managers says the move is necessary as part of the hospital's "financial recovery plan". The trust was £7m overspent on a budget of £80m last year and it was awarded zero stars in the performance tables last month after failing to achieve its targets.
The hospital imposed a recruitment freeze on non-essential posts, including cleaning staff, this month.
A trust spokesman said yesterday: "Like every other trust we have to balance our books ...Our overwhelming priority is to ensure patient care does not suffer." He added: "We are asking staff to help us out in this small way."
A spokesman for the British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said: "At least it will ensure the job is well done."
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