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The London Health Sciences Centre announced Tuesday that staff hours will need to be drastically slashed as part of a plan to deal with a $24-million budget deficit.

President and CEO Dr. Paul Woods says, "We've come to a bit of a tipping point where we've had to start considering the configuration of our workforce."

LHSC says they will be reducing enough hours that it will equate to a loss of 165 full-time positions.

The hospital network is one of London’s biggest employers, from front-line health care workers, to support staff and researchers.

The hospital says they want to mitigate the effect on staff through temporary hiring freezes of non-clinical staff, natural attrition and non-union voluntary exits.

It was not immediately clear how many jobs may be eliminated through these means.

The hospital says it needs to find $28-million in savings going into the next fiscal year.

All departments have been asked to identify saving strategies equal to upwards of 2.5 per cent of thehospital's $1.2-billion budget.

Officials say this isn't the result of any singular funding cut, but rather chronic underfunding over many years that has left them unable to keep up with either inflation or demand.

"It's been very tough to operate in this environment. To operate a business where expenses are inflationary and revenue is flat and there's nothing we can do on the revenue side so it's very tough to run a business especilly as large as this one where the mandate we have is to provide care," Woods says.

At Queen's Park, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott pointed to local decisions as being behind the needed cuts.

"Hospitals are independent corporations that are run by their own boards of directors and as such they're making their own decisions with respect to how they're going to deal with their operational pressures."

Still Woods insists patient care will not be affected, with quality and safety continuing to be the priority at LHSC.