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LONDON, Ont. - The London Health Sciences Centre has confirmed that it will be closing 11 surgical beds in the Burns and Plastics Unit as part of a cost savings measure.

The hospital says the closure of the beds at the Victoria Hospital campus is part of a three-year financial recovery strategy.

In June LHSC revealed that they would be ending the year with a $24-million budget deficit.

Shortly after that announcement the hospital revealed it would need to drastically slash staff hours as part of a plan to deal with the deficit.

The closing of the beds is the latest in the efforts to get back into the black moving forward.

In a statement released to CTV News, Julie Trpkovski, vice president of Clinical Services says, “We are confident our surgical volumes including burns and plastics can be managed effectively by reducing the number of beds across the surgical units without impact to safe patient care. We anticipate minimal impact to staff as a result of this change.”

At the time of the budget revelations all departments were asked to identify saving strategies equal to upwards of 2.5 per cent of the hospital's $1.2-billion budget.

The hospital says the deficit is not the result of any one funding cut but rather the result of chronic underfunding over many years.

Strong reaction to closure

Reaction to news of 11 surgical beds closing in the Burns and Plastics Unit at LHSC’s Victoria Hospital is one of outrage.

“Tragic would be an understatement, this is bad.”

Peter Bergmanis is the chair of the London Health Coalition, and says no matter how it’s framed, cuts inside hospitals affect patient care.

“When they say they close the bed what they are really saying is they are getting rid of staff, whether it be temporary or not, so they don’t have to pay the wages to look after those patients.”

LHSC had 139 surgical beds at Victoria Hospital, but these cuts will reduce that number to 128 beds.

“This is not an improvement, this is not a good news story to say we are cutting 11 more beds, wherever they may be, in this case a burn unit...it’s never a good news story and it will have patient impact,” Bergmanisadds.

The hospital says the 11 beds will be closed in a staged approach based on occupancy.

- With files from CTV London's Celine Zadorsky