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NHS considers pet hospital

30th October 2006

28092006_kitten1.jpgStaff at a debt-ridden hospital have suggested opening up cancer treatment for cats and dogs to help clear some of its £24 million overspend.

The novel proposal was one of more than 700 ideas from staff at Ipswich hospital in Suffolk to claw back some of their overspend, and would involve using radiotherapy equipment at the weekends when it would usually be sitting idle.

NHS managers across the UK are being asked to come up with cash-saving measures to following last year’s half-a-billion health service deficit.

The hospital estimates that a Saturday clinic treating pets for cancer could earn up to £50,000 a year - enough to pay for two nurses' salaries.

The idea has already drawn fierce criticism from a union and the Conservatives' health spokesman, but has been welcomed by the RSPCA.

A hospital spokeswoman said no patients would be affected by the clinic, and that they would protect against infection by using anti-allergy drapes and by thorough cleaning.

But it has horrified patient groups. Healthworkers union, Unison, said hospitals should stick to treating sick humans, while shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley, condemned the plan. The RSPCA supported the plan, as long as strict hygiene was observed to protect human patients.

The hospital has reiterated that the pet clinic is just a proposal.

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