News Date: Friday 15th December 2006
Health Minister's debate hijacked by Sussex's Tory MPs
At a crucial health debate in the House of Commons yesterday, seven Conservative Members of Parliament from Sussex called on Andy Burnham, the Minister of State at the Department of Health, to halt the proposed cuts to local health services.
During the debate on Medical and Clinical Practice, the attacks on the health policies of the current Government were led by East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton who has been heading the KWASH campaign to save Worthing and Southlands hospitals from closure.
Tim challenged the Minister to respond to the concerns of the consultants at Worthing hospital who have made it absolutely clear that they believe the current proposals will cost lives and in particular, that the closure of acute services at Worthing hospital will result in patient deaths due to inter-hospital transfer of sick patients.
There were no Labour MPs from Sussex present at the debate even though if the reconfiguration proposals go ahead hospitals in their constituencies will be affected by large increases in patient numbers and there were also no Liberal Democrat Back Bench MPs in attendance at the debate.
Sussex's Tory MP's accused the Government of being in denial and out of touch with the public on health matters. They called on the Health Minister to answer the letters from their constituents, to visit the hospitals where changes are proposed, to acknowledge the petitions and marches and listen to the people who will be in fear for their lives if the hospital changes go ahead.
During the debate Tim commented:
"Worthing is the largest town in Sussex, with a population of more than 100,000. It will have many more people in the next few years because of the house building targets imposed on us by central Government. Ten years ago, the last Conservative Government greatly expanded Worthing hospital; it is ironic that this Labour Government threaten to be the one to downsize our hospital in the largest town in Sussex, and possibly close Southlands hospital altogether.
"The hospital in Brighton will not be able to cope...if these crazy proposals go ahead."
At the end of the debate Tim commented:
"He (the Health Minister) was completely in denial about the extra costs associated with older people, which is the very reason we have such a problem with deficits in our part of the world.
"We are not against change, but we are against change that is based on a false premise, not on evidence, and that is clearly driven by financial expediency caused by the complete mess of the NHS's finances that the Government have brought about at a time of record investment in the NHS."
Note to Editor:
1) To read the full transcript of yesterday's health debate please visit http://pubs1.tso.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm061214/hallindx/61214-x.htm
2) The seven Conservative MPs from Sussex who were present at yesterday's debate were Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham), Peter Bottomley (West Worthing), Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis), Andrew Tyrie (Chichester), Nick Herbert (Arundel & South Downs), Nigel Waterson (Eastbourne) and Gregory Baker (Bexhill & Battle)
3) For further information on the KWASH campaign please visit www.kwash.org.uk or contact Ruth Farrer - Langton in the office of Tim Loughton MP on 020 7219 1622.
Tim Loughton MP , 2006