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LOCAL PEOPLE SHOULD BE MORE INVOLVED IN THE FUTURE OF HOSPITAL SERVICES, NOT LESS

I’ve spoken to local people and many have told me they’re concerned about the future of health services in Wyre Forest.
David Cameron promised he’d protect the NHS, but under him A&Es are in crisis, thousands of nurses have been lost and more people are waiting longer for vital care. And now he wants to give his Secretary of State for Health sweeping powers to make changes to successful hospitals.

Clause 119 of the Care Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, would extend the powers of the Trust Special Administrator to make recommendations on hospitals that fall outside the trust to which it was appointed. This means that the government in Westminster would be able to go over the heads of local communities and have the power to close Kidderminster hospital. It just goes to show you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS.

The government recently attempted to close down Lewisham Hospital in London, despite it being highly successful. This closure was stopped by the High Court but Clause 119 would effectively give the government the power to do this to other hospitals in the future.   I think this clause is wrong and potentially dangerous as successful hospitals in our area could face cuts or be forced to close. Yet local Tory Mark Garnier MP voted for the clause, showing that once again he’d rather keep his Tory friends in Westminster happy than look after the interests of local people.

People have told me how frustrated they are when decisions on local facilities like Kidderminster Hospital are taken without properly consulting them. Those that rely on local hospitals like Kidderminster should be involved in shaping its future.   That’s why the next Labour government will take measures to empower local people. We’ll make sure that they have a formal role in drawing up and deciding on proposals for changes to maternity wards, A&E units or any other health service before they get to the consultation stage.   Sometimes there is a need to make changes to local services but the government’s plans are the wrong way to do this as they will be centrally-imposed. Labour’s plans will give local people more of a say, build confidence in any proposals and help people understand the available options, as well as the clinical case for any change. The challenges facing health services are too complex to impose solutions from Westminster. Communities need to be actively involved in any decisions taken on the future of local health facilities and these decisions should be driven by the best interests of patients.  Clause 119 would be a major obstacle to achieving this which is why Labour will continue to fight it.

Dr Matt Lamb, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Wyre Forest.

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