Hundreds of jobs will be terminated and hospital wards will close even as the trust which runs the Lister Hospital is struggling with financial pressures.
Changes to the local NHS, including a decision made by primary care center to refer fewer patients to the Trust, left them with little option other than to reduce the number of beds and jobs at Lister, QEII and Hertford County Hospital.
Unison's Geoff Reason, describing the news as a "devastating blow" to both the patients and the staff said: "Cuts on this scale will have a major impact on patient care and fewer patients will be treated as a result."
Chairman of the Staff side Trade Union, Anne Wells, said: "We are extremely disappointed it has come to this. We are working with the management to explore other options. The Government have to take some of the blame for this."