Following a meeting between the Mount Vernon Review Steering Group and local MPs, Peter Lilley said:
“The final report of the Mount Vernon Cancer Review is a completely
inadequate basis for discussion of how cancer services should be provided.
I would be attracted by the idea of creating a Hertfordshire Teaching
Hospital – first advocated by the St Albans Conservative Group – as long as
it means extra capacity, resources moved from London to cope with patients
no longer going there and does not undermine our four General Accident and
Emergency hospitals. But I am very suspicious if the proposal simply
involves centralising much of Hertfordshire‘s existing hospital resources on
a new site, downgrading four hospitals, adding little or no extra capacity
and transferring no resources from London.
“The report is flawed in three ways:
1. It fails to say what resources will have to be moved from existing
hospitals to a new Centre, nor what effect that will have on their
viability. But it emerged at the meeting that this will happen.
2. No indication of whether services will provide additional capacity
or merely centralise existing capacity.
3. No indication of whether resources will be transferred from central
London to treat Hertfordshire patients who no longer go to London for
“I have three priorities – improved quality, increased capacity and improved
access. I accept that people may have to travel for specialist care – but,
if so, this should not be concealed. Moreover, if changes will undermine
other services we must be told.
“This report is far too political with a small ‘p‘ – not party political,
because it will cause some Labour MPs most problems. The bureaucrats seem to
be playing politics in the belief they can get difficult changes through by
concealing some of their implications. This is an insult to the public‘s
intelligence. It is also likely to prove self-defeating. The public and
their elected representatives are intelligent enough to be trusted with the
full facts. But when they discover they have been told half-truths they
will lose trust in the whole process.
“Only after repeated questioning did officials admit that some of their
options would siphon off resources from existing hospitals. When MPs asked
where that appeared in the report they were told ‘it could be inferred‘!
Subsequent close reading suggests that the plan could mean closing over 100
beds and five theatres in existing Hertfordshire hospitals. But no
indication of whether this is the full impact or which hospitals would lose
out is given.”