Hospitals jobs blow to be softened: Clearing house to help find new posts

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HELP for doctors, nurses and other medical staff to find jobs after being made redundant in the changes to the NHS in London is to be announced today, writes Colin Brown.

Brian Mawhinney, the Minister of State for Health, will announce the establishment of a helpline and computer-linked clearing house to offer priority to those facing redundancy as a result of the closure of some of London's teaching hospitals.

Ministers hope the scheme will help to defuse the row over the proposed closures and mergers of hospitals, which are likely to be confirmed later this year, following the review of the NHS in the capital by Professor Sir Bernard Tomlinson.

Dr Mawhinney will make it clear the Government believes the scheme should become the model for dealing with cuts in staffing in other areas. It is not yet known how many hospital staff could lose their jobs in London and ministers are unable to give guarantees, although they insist it should be used only as a last resort.

Staff at a clearing house in Paddington will run two computer databases, matching the names and details of staff under notice of redundancy with NHS vacancies across the country.

Ian McCartney, a Labour spokesman on health, yesterday protested in the Commons that nurses' jobs were being cut while the Government had wasted money by failing to provide a proper computer system for GPs, as reported in the Independent yesterday.

Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health, accused Labour of 'always trying to find a cloud over every silver lining'. She said the Government had almost fulfilled its election pledge to ensure no patients waited more than 18 months for hip, knee and cataract operations. Health authority returns for 31 March showed eight patients waiting for knee operations.