Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Hitchin and Harpenden’s MP, Peter Lilley, joined a team of Councillors, Doctors, former patients and staff and local residents to launch a petition in support of the ?Red House? – as the Harpenden Memorial Hospital is known. They were greeted with overwhelming support from a public angered by the decision of the Primary Care Trust managers to renege on assurances about the future of the Hospital given only last September.

    Peter Lilley said: “It is vital that we demonstrate the depth and strength of feeling on this issue. People feel betrayed; they deeply value the quality of care the dedicated staff at the Red House provide; and they do not understand how cuts like this can be necessary when we are told massive extra resources have been provided for the NHS.

    “It is clear that the management are determined to steamroller this through if they can before the public fully realise what is happening. They are allowing only 30 days consultation which is ludicrously short. The only information on which the proposal is based is embedded in a consultation document 43 [DQ check this with Geraldine] pages long yet it provides only a fraction of the information the public need to evaluate the case for such a drastic cut in local provision. Either the management are making decisions on the basis of skimpy information or they are trying to conceal the facts from us. Either way they should not be allowed to force this through in such a cynical fashion.

    “We will be challenging them on several fronts:

    ? Bad faith: what has changed since last September to justify breaking the public assurances they then gave that the Memorial Hospital was safe in their hands?

    ? Bad alternative provision: They are talking of making provision available at St Albans City hospital. But they are not geared to provide the palliative care offered by Harpenden Memorial Hospital. Moreover, Harpenden has been taking patients from St Albans suggesting that hey do not have spare or suitable capacity.

    ? Bad financial case: The PCT previously acknowledged that Care at the Red House was relatively low cost. By closing those beds patients will need to be treated in higher cost environment. Moreover, since most of the cost is the cost of staff and no one is being made redundant it is hard to see where the savings would come from ? unless they simply intend to sell off the hospital site. If that is the basis of the financial case they should come clean about it.?