- Labour in direct plea to Tory and Lib Dem MPs with local trusts in financial difficulty to ‘put constituency before party’ and block Health Secretary’s plans to cut local people out of decisions.
- Labour-led cross party campaign against Clause 119 that would give Jeremy Hunt the power to close or downgrade services without local people having their say builds ahead of crucial Commons vote today
- Lewisham case shows no community in England is safe from being cut out of decisions to close or downgrade hospitals if Hunt’s plans go through
The NHS trusts most at risk from the Health Secretary’s new “hospital closure clause” are today named for the first time. New analysis by Labour reveals there are 32 communities in England where NHS regulators have significant concerns over finances, which risk placing the trusts at the centre of area-wide reconfigurations that affect neighbouring hospitals.
If the Commons votes for the sweeping new powers today, Ministers will get the green light to impose downgrades on hospitals in neighbouring areas whilst local patients and clinicians would have little chance to object.
Ahead of the crucial vote, Labour has made a direct appeal to MPs in the areas most affected to join a growing cross-party campaign against the Health Secretary’s power-grab. Labour candidates in those communities are today writing to Tory and Lib Dem MPs urging them to stand up for worried patients and their local NHS.
Later today, Labour will vote to delete the new rules from the Bill and will join forces with MPs of other parties to hand power back to local communities.
Tuesday’s debate comes after Jeremy Hunt’s plan to balance the books in a neighbouring trust by downgrading Lewisham Hospital was thrown out by the High Court. His response to that defeat was to bring forward rushed amendments to the Care Bill to give himself the powers denied to him by the court.
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“This Government used to say it wanted to put patients and doctors in charge of the local NHS. Now Jeremy Hunt wants to ride roughshod over local communities and have carte blanche to break up the NHS without anyone else having a say. He must be stopped.
“With more and more hospitals in financial difficulty, this move could hit every community in the land and leave them voiceless in the face of changes to their services.
“Labour is clear: changes to hospitals should be driven by clinical, not financial, reasons with local people involved every step of the way. That is why we believe these plans are dangerous and wrong. It is time for Parliament to stop an arrogant Secretary of State from overstepping the mark.”
Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton & Reddish and a Shadow Health Minister added:
“The research highlights no fewer than 32 hospitals who could see unnecessary changes to services – or even closure – forced swiftly through the back door as a result of this law change.
“It would be unjustifiable and plain wrong to deprive the people of Tameside and Glossop any say over changes to our hospital services. For all the recent issues, local people value their hospital. It would be quite unacceptable for the Secretary of State to be given the power to close down services at a whim. That’s why this Clause must be opposed today.”
1. Trusts forecasting ending 2013/14 in deficit and where the NHS Trust Development Authority has required action:
Barking, Havering And Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust; George Eliot Hospitals NHS; Trust United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust; North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
2. Trusts forecasting ending year in deficit where NHS TDA has registered a material issue concern:
Barnet And Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust; Barts Health NHS Trust; Bedford Hospital NHS Trust; Croydon Health Services NHS Trust; Ealing Hospital NHS Trust; East Cheshire NHS Trust; East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust; Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust; Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust; Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust; Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust; Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust; University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust; Weston Area Health NHS Trust; Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust; Wye Valley NHS Trust
3. Trusts where Monitor is taking enforcement action and believes there is a significant or material risk over continuity of services:
Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust; Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Bolton NHS Foundation Trust; Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, NHS Foundation Trust; Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Medway NHS Foundation Trust; Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust