Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, condemned the decision by the newly formed West Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust to close the Harpenden Memorial Hospital. The PCT made the decision despite failing to tackle any of the issues previously raised by the local PCT, issues which had led to the Hospital being reprieved from closure this summer.
Peter told the meeting, “I remain strongly opposed to the closure of the Harpenden Memorial Hospital. After the previous consultation, the St. Albans and Harpenden PCT gave four reasons why the proposed closure should not go ahead. Not one of them has been addressed by the new West Hertfordshire PCT.
“They said: first, ‘further work is required in relation to palliative care‘. Yet they have produced no new proposals in this area.
“Second, ‘the Trust believes that it is imperative that any intended service change should command support from local clinicians.‘ Yet local GP’s are totally opposed to this closure.
“Third, ‘agree a joint vision for the future of the Memorial Hospital with Hertfordshire County Council Adult Care Services.‘ Yet the County still oppose the closure.
“Finally, ‘the proposals must be re-considered within the context of the Hertfordshire-wide review of Investing in Your Health”. Yet Investing in Your Health is now unravelling. The proposed super-hospital at Hatfield has been cancelled. Two general hospitals are to be downgraded. There are just 264 beds for every 100,000 inhabitants in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire against the national average of 363. It is totally absurd to close more beds in these circumstances.
“I am seeking legal advice as to whether a judicial review of the decision to close the Hospital is possible. Failing that I would support any plans by our local GP’s to commission palliative care at the Hospital if this is a practical option.”
PRESS RELEASE ENDS
NOTES TO EDITORS
1) The meeting to close the decision took place on Wednesday afternoon, 29th November, at Harpenden Public Halls, Southdown Road, Harpenden.
2) The PCT comments quoted above are taken from the introduction to the document:
The Future of Intermediate Care Services – PCT Response to the Public Consultation.
The Chief Executive at the time (Jacqueline Clark) stated in the Introduction that:
“It is clear from the feedback received during the consultation exercise that further work is required before any final decision can be made. This work falls into four key areas, as follows:
1. Further work is required in relation to palliative care, to address the concerns raised by local clinicians and members of the local community.
2. The Trust believes that it is imperative that any intended service change should command support from local clinicians. It regards the local Practice Based Commissioning Group as being the effective clinical voice of the locality. Further dialogue is required in order to ensure appropriate clinical engagement and support for the future service model and way forward.
3. Further dialogue with Adult Care Services is required, to address the concerns raised by colleagues in Hertfordshire County Council, and to agree a joint vision for the future of Harpenden Memorial Hospital.
4. The proposals need to be re-considered within the context of the Hertfordshire-wide review of Investing in Your Health, which has been commissioned and will report its findings in the early autumn of 2006.”