Eastern Health is cutting back hours of operation for some of its rural hospital cafeterias beginning Nov. 19.

The province's largest health authority is making the changes as part of its overall plan to save $43 million in operating costs by eliminating 550 full-time positions.

Included in the cuts are the cafeterias at Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre, Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville, and the Carbonear General Hospital.

"Implementing initiatives such as this will allow us to become more effective in how we operate without having any negative impact on the level, quality and safety of the programs and services that we offer or laying off any permanent employee," said George Butt, vice president with responsibility for support services, in a written statement.

Butt said the cafeterias will still offer a wide range of menu offerings as well as 24-hour vending machine services.

The new hours will be nine a.m. to 1:30 p.m. during the week, while the cafeterias will close on weekends and holidays. Patient food services aren't affected, and the workers involved have been assigned to other jobs.