Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    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
    treatment.

    “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.”

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