Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, urged Health Ministers in Parliament to halt plans to downgrade or merge most of the A & E units in Hertfordshire hospitals unless and until they can publish research into previous mergers which proves that more centralised units result in better health care.
Peter Lilley said:
“I am strongly in favour of a new teaching hospital and cancer centre in Hertfordshire. But I am alarmed that the preferred option in the Beds & Herts Health Authority?s latest proposals seems to use that as an excuse for downgrading most of the existing Accident and Emergency units in our local hospitals. Either Hemel Hempstead and Lister or Watford and the QEII at Welwyn would lose their Emergency surgery and acute medicine. St Albans hospital would be closed completely under the favoured option.
“What particularly concerns me is that the planned reorganisation of Hertfordshire?s hospitals does not involve any extra acute beds. It just centralises more of them in one place. Yet if the new hospital is a genuine teaching hospital many Hertfordshire residents who currently go to London teaching hospitals will be treated there. So we will end up with more patients waiting longer to be treated in the same number of beds.
“It is clear that there is no intention of restoring the Special Care Baby Unit and full maternity services to Hemel Hempstead and even the proposed low-risk birthing unit, (which in any case would only cope with one sixth of the number of births previously handled at Hemel), is not guaranteed.
“I have repeatedly urged ministers to do research on whether or not previous hospital mergers have improved health outcomes before allowing any more mergers ? but they refuse. I repeated my request for this evidence in Parliament on Tuesday. But once again the Health Minister refused to answer. The government should not go ahead with any more mergers and closures until they can provide clear evidence that bigger, less accessible, units do result in improved health outcomes.