MP Protests at Party Political Cabal on Hemel Closure

- Tuesday, 29th January 2002

 

Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, protested at the decision of Labour Health Minister, Lord Hunt, to brief only local Labour MPs on the stalled report into the closure of Hemel?s maternity and children?s services.

He said: "I was incensed on behalf of my constituents that I was deliberately excluded from this meeting. I have worked ? on an all party basis - with neighbouring Labour MPs to defend local hospital services and have taken the lead in Parliament on this issue. Local NHS officials have told me that they have been warned ?their careers will come to an end? if they brief me on what is going on.

"It is unprecedented for Ministers to brief on a party political basis instead of putting their duty to the NHS and the general public first. Following my protests, he has agreed to meet me on Wednesday, the 30th January.

"Together with the delay in the report, one can only deduce from the episode that the panel?s initial conclusions are unacceptable either to the government or to the public. So the Minister is trying to keep Labour MPs on side by concocting some kind of fudge. I have heard that work on a ?low risk birthing unit? is being speeded up as part of this. But according to the Acute Services Review, these may be unsuitable for up to 75% of mothers who would still have to go to Watford or Luton & Dunstable.

"Last week, the Prime Minister said that we must not raise problems faced by our constituents in relation to the NHS. Now it appears that Health Ministers are refusing to inform other MPs about developments that directly affect their constituents. I am sure local MPs were not responsible for this but it is contemptible that a Labour Minister insists on using the NHS for party political benefit.

 

 

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