Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden presented a petition containing almost 9,000 signatures to Parliament last Thursday calling for the Government and the St. Albans and Harpenden Primary Care Trust to keep the Harpenden Memorial Hospital open. Commenting on the petition Peter Lilley said, “The fact we have gathered so many signatures in such a short space of time just shows how much local people are against the planned closure of their hospital”.

    Peter Lilley added: “There is real and understandable anger over the proposal to close the Hospital. Last September we were assured by the PCT that shutting down the Harpenden Memorial Hospital was not on the cards. Now, less than a year later, we are faced with its closure.

    “At the time we were told that closing down the Hospital would be bad for quality of care. Now, because the Government is requiring huge cuts in the St. Albans and Harpenden Primary Care Trust budget, a hospital which the community wants to stay open is being forced to close – to make a very small contribution towards reducing this deficit.

    “I hope that the Government will listen to the people of Harpenden and ensure that the Harpenden Memorial Hospital is not forced to close due to short term budgetary pressures. Until it does I will continue to fight against the planned closure of the Hospital and urge local people to do the same. I ask all those who have not signed the petition so far to do so and help keep up the pressure on the Government.?



    (1) The petition can be obtained from Peter?s website at www.peterlilley.co.uk or from his constituency office (contact Geraldine on 01582 834344). Signed copies should be returned to Peter at Riverside House, 1 Place Farm, Wheathampstead, Herts, AL4 8SB as soon as possible.

    (2) The relevant text from Hansard is reproduced below:

    “Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): I present a petition signed by 8,713 local residents, including doctors, nurses and other employees who have worked at Harpenden memorial hospital and patients and relatives of patients who have been treated at the hospital, all of whom deplore the proposed closure of beds at the hospital. They say that the relatively small savings achieved by closing the ward are overshadowed by the huge impact on the care provided at the hospital for the most needy, frail, elderly and terminally ill people in the Harpenden area. They say that the closure is a breach of promises made at a public meeting in September 2005 when the people of Harpenden were told by the primary care trust that closing or running down the hospital would be bad for patient care and financially disadvantageous.
    The petition states:
    The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Secretary of State for Health to work with the St. Albans and Harpenden Primary Care Trust to ensure that the beds at Harpenden Memorial Hospital are not closed.
    And the Petitioners remain, etc.?