Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, is joining with neighbouring campaigners, Oliver Heald, MP for Hertfordshire North East, and Mike Penning, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hemel Hempstead, to fight for a Patients‘ Option for their local hospitals – The Lister and Hemel Hempstead. They challenge the artificially narrow choice between Options 1 and 2 presented by the government‘s review of local hospitals.
“Hertfordshire is one of the wealthiest areas in the country yet has amongst the poorest NHS services in the country. Instead of dealing with the root cause of this problem, the government has decided to re-organise NHS services in Hertfordshire – improving services for the few but making them even worse for the many. This is not acceptable. All Hertfordshire patients must be given a fair deal.”
Peter Lilley said: “The future of the main hospitals serving my constituents is under threat. My concern is not about the location of the Cancer Centre which I would strongly welcome as an addition to Hertfordshire‘s health care whichever site it goes to. But both options affect existing services:
“Option 2 would downgrade both the Lister and Hemel Hempstead to second class hospitals. They would lose all surgical Accident & Emergency facilities, most maternity services and children‘s services. I fear from what I saw happen to St Albans that this would pave the way for a further rundown of services. Indeed under this option St Albans City Hospital would now lose elective surgery as well.
“Option 1, though at first sight keeping more key services at The Lister and Hemel, would still mean more centralisation. Emergency patients needing surgery would be brought in from the rest of Hertfordshire to be treated in these hospitals, but local people in Hitchin and Harpenden would have to go further afield for basic hospital services.
“These are the bureaucrats‘ options.
“The Patient Option would put patients‘ priorities first. Patients want:
– shorter waits: which means more beds, doctors and nurses but both options cut the number of beds.
– local care: not centralisation. Of course some tertiary services can only be provided in specialist hospitals and I would have welcomed a teaching hospital in Hertfordshire but that prospect seems to have receded.
– better care: the government admits centralisation rarely produces the hoped for improvements in quality nor the cost savings.”
Oliver Heald said: “This process should be about a new cancer centre and better treatment for all, but the reality seems to involve cuts in services. This is not what patients want. I know that many employers, GPs and schools are particularly concerned about the proposal that emergency operations will no longer be available at one or other of our hospitals‘ A&E Departments.”
Commenting on the government‘s botched plans, Mike Penning said: “The government has launched a ‘consultation document‘ which gives people two options to choose from – but each of these options would result in the downgrading of services at our hospitals in Hertfordshire.
“Of course I welcome the investment that will come with the opening of the new cancer unit in Hemel, but I cannot support cuts in other services at the hospital. The hospital was built for the residents of Hemel – and I will fight the bureaucrats that want to undermine its future.”
They will launch a petition urging the government to think again and come back with a Patients‘ Option.