A UNION has warned the West London Mental Health Trust, which runs St Bernard's Hospital, may be forced to axe more than 500 jobs.
UNITE believes the trust may have to lose 180 staff a year within the next three years, including a total of 110 qualified nursing staff and 120 administration and clerical posts.
But the West London Mental Health Trust (WLMHT), whose headquarters are in St Bernard's in Uxbridge Road, Southall, and which also runs other services in the borough and beyond, including Broadmoor secure unit in Berkshire, says the figures have been overblown.
Ruth Lewis, executive director of organisation development and workforce, explained their budgets, along with other mental health trusts across the country, are dependant on their commissioners, such as councils and primary care trusts, who buy their services.
WLMH will not know how much money it has until those commissioners set their budgets. Commissioners are mainly funded by the government, and their budgets are being cut in part of the government's drive to reduce the nation's deficit.
Ms Lewis said: "Unfortunately, we anticipate that budgets will be cut and that as we strive to create efficiencies in our services at the same time as preserving high standards of patient care, some jobs will be affected.
"While staff are aware that job cuts may be a consequence, it would be entirely wrong to use your quoted figures, as they are at best provisional estimates and extrapolations and have no official status. No decisions relating to positions have been made, and we will prioritise the preservation of clinical roles so quality of care in our frontline services is maintained."
But UNITE stands by its figures, and along with other members of campaign group Ealing Alliance for Public Services (EAPS) is calling upon those outraged by government cuts to attend a rally outside Ealing Town Hall tomorrow.
Nick Grant, convenor of EAPS, said: “Every day of the week thousands of selfless workers care for the mental health and well-being of the whole west London area. That service will disappear, and drag many families into penury because they will have to stop working to do the caring instead.”
The Ealing rally will be held between 9am and 10am tomorrow, before a protest in Hyde Park, central London, called March for the Alternative, organised by the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
Visit www.marchforthealternative.org.uk to find out more.