A cash-strapped NHS Trust has told surgeons and theatre staff to bring their own MUGS and drinks to work – in a bid to cut costs.
Health chiefs have even withdrawn polystyrene cups from water dispensers which has sparked outrage from workers claiming even patients are going thirsty.
The move comes as Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust aims to cut £5.5 million from its £29 million deficit.
Theatre staff at Alexandra Hospital, Kidderminster Hospital, and Worcestershire Royal Hospital, have now been told to “supply their own mugs and drinks from now on”.
Despite the Trust insisting water is available for patients, one worker claims some are waking up from surgery to be told they now have “no cups from which we could offer them anything to drink”.
The whistleblower, who works at Alexandra Hospital, said: “This is heartbreaking.
“We cannot even take a drink of water during our typical ten-hour day.
“How can this be right in any way?”
Relatives of patients have reacted with fury to the withdrawal of drinking cups for staff, branding it “ridiculous”.
Edward Taylor, 45, whose father is being treated for a heart condition, said: “The idea that surgeons and medical staff are being told to bring in their own mugs is insane.
“What happens if, while preparing for a day saving lives, a surgeon forgets to take their mug to work? Do they go thirsty for their entire shift? It’s ridiculous.
“Surely the people who need to stay hydrated are those people operating on patients.
Has it got so bad in the NHS that staff aren’t even allowed a cup from which to drink?”
Another woman, who did not want to be named, added: “It’s yet another kick in the teeth for medical staff at a time when their morale must be on the floor.
“This government has cut so much from the NHS budget, hospitals are worse than third world.
“Staff should be receiving more help, not having stupid rules piled on them.
“How much does a mug really cost? I don’t know anyone who relies on the NHS who would deprive surgeons of a cuppa.”
Financial pressures have been heightened after it was found to be “at risk of not delivering its agreed control total”.
A spokesman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Like all NHS organisations we are expected to demonstrate tight control over our finances, show that we are delivering value for money, and commit to delivering year-on-year efficiency improvements.
“For the current financial year, our agreed control total is £42.7 million, which requires us to deliver more than £20 million of efficiency savings.
“As well as the detailed financial recovery and cost improvement plans in place we have across the Trust, we have also recently asked all our staff to look at ways in which they can play a part in stopping unnecessary spending, improving efficiency and eliminating waste in order to help us collectively meet this challenging target.
“As part of this, and in line with all other staff across our three hospital sites, theatre staff have been asked to supply their own mugs and drinks from now on.
“Cups will still be provided for patient use.
“The Trust is still providing the specialist footwear required by theatre staff, although the choice has been restricted to ensure that we are getting the best possible value for money.”