Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has condemned the crisis facing the NHS in Hertfordshire ? a crisis of jobs, hospitals, trust and care caused by the Government?s mismanagement. Speaking in an emergency debate on the NHS in Hertfordshire called by fellow Tory MP, David Gauke, Peter condemned the worst situation he has seen Hertfordshire?s NHS face in over two decades as an MP.
At the debate Peter applauded the hard work and dedication of individual NHS staff before commenting: “The words “cuts? and “crisis? have been used fairly frequently over the past 20 years, but throughout that time they meant a reduction in the anticipated growth in spending or employment. This is the first time that we have known a real crisis.
“It is a crisis of jobs. The two hospital trusts that serve my constituency each plan to shed 500 jobs?a total of 1,000. It is a crisis of hospitals. Harpenden Memorial Hospital in my constituency is to lose all its hospital beds – effectively, it is to be closed as an in-patient hospital. It is a crisis of trust. At a public meeting that I chaired last September, my constituents expressed concern about rumours that the Harpenden Memorial Hospital might be closed. The PCT said at that meeting that it had considered all the options and that it had decided that it was an economic, efficient and caring way of providing health care for local people and that it wanted to build on that provision. Eight months later, it announced that every bed was to go.
“It is also a crisis of trust in the Secretary of State. I asked her the other day why the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust will have to cut a quarter of its spending??66 million out of a total of ?267 million over the next three years. She said that the Department did not require any cuts in hospital budgets, just that hospitals should live within their budget. Yet, the figures that I cite are from a press release from the NHS, so someone is not to be trusted. I fear that the Secretary of State must have been ill-informed. We therefore cannot trust what she says about our local health service.
“It is a crisis of care. The new model of care is designed to discourage and if possible prevent GPs referring patients to hospital.?
Commenting after the debate Peter said, “I do not feel that Ministers listening on this issue and, together with my fellow Hertfordshire MPs, I will continue to raise our concerns until the government does take notice. The shortfall in funding that Hertfordshire is facing is unprecedented in the history of our local NHS, and is occurring at a time when the Government is trumpeting record health expenditure. We must continue to push for the government to reverse these cuts before local services are decimated.?