POLITICIANS have accused the Government of failing NHS staff and their patients by axing hundreds of jobs at a London hospital.
The Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London, is to shed 480 posts under plans to save £25m in the next year, it was announced last night.
Hospital bosses said they would do everything to ensure forced redundancies were kept to a minimum, but they could not be ruled out.
More than 2,000 job cuts have now been announced at hospitals across the UK in the past week.
The Conservatives accused the Government of abandoning the NHS, saying Chancellor Gordon Brown had ignored it in yesterday's Budget. And campaigners accused hospital chiefs of "smuggling" out the announcement under the cover of the Budget.
Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said last night: "One year ago, ministers were heralding NHS staff as the heroes who were delivering on waiting-list targets.
"Today they are silent as the same NHS staff are threatened with redundancy. Gordon Brown said nothing of the NHS in his Budget.
"Faced with the failure of his billions to deliver corresponding improvements for patients, Gordon Brown and the Treasury have abandoned the NHS."
London Health Emergency head of campaigns Geoff Martin said:
"Sacking nurses never looks good for the Government. This hospital has already closed 100 beds. These staff cuts will have a devastating impact and make a mockery of emergency planning in London."