News Date: Tuesday 19th December 2006
Father Christmases deliver 1000 KWASH Christmas cards to Health Secretary
Earlier this morning East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton and West Worthing MP Peter Bottomley donned Father Christmas suits and delivered sacks full of Christmas cards to the Department of Health from constituents angry at the prospect of Worthing and Southlands hospitals being hit by NHS cuts.
Pictures of Tim and Peter dressed up as Father Christmas outside the Department of Health and being interviewed by the BBC and Meridian television are attached to this press release. The two MPs walked up Whitehall to the sounds of the Nurse Sunshine rap and wished passer-bys a Merry Christmas.
The pair had requested that the Secretary of State for Health Patricia Hewitt come out and accept the Christmas cards but she delegated the task to the Minister for State for Public Health Caroline Flint who in turn refused to meet Tim and Peter and sent her Assistant Private Secretary Simon Metcalf to accept the Christmas cards.
Tim and Peter worked with local artist Mike Payne to develop the KWASH (Keep Worthing and Southlands Hospital) cards which feature the KWASH campaign logo Nurse Sunshine and they encouraged local residents to send Patricia Hewitt a Christmas card urging her to save local hospitals under threat of closure.
"This is yet another snub to the patients of Worthing and Southlands hospitals. Not content with the Prime Minister re-directing a letter from the Mayor of Worthing about the hospitals to the Department of Transport - now we are told no health ministers are available to meet the town's two MPs to receive our Christmas cards.
"One thousand people took the trouble to purchase Nurse Sunshine Christmas cards and send their greetings to the Secretary of State for Health to show their concerns about threats to downgrade our hospitals - surely it was not too much to expect one of her ministerial team to spend five minutes meeting us and acknowledging the strength of feeling amongst local people. The Minister of State for Health Lord Warner even walked past us when we were outside the Department of Health - but he refused to stop."
Note to Editor:
1) For further information on the KWASH campaign (www.kwash.org.uk) or for more photos of Tim and Peter outside the Department of Health please contact Ruth Farrer - Langton in the office of Tim Loughton MP on 020 7219 1622.