The Care Bill and Clause 119
Email Campaign

It is precisely because I share your concerns to ensure we have the best possible NHS that I strongly support the government’s proposals to make it easier to reorganise health care within a local area.

Indeed, I am disappointed to see, yet again, the emotive and one-sided approach adopted in particular by 38 Degrees to this issue which is both unhelpful and misleading. Yet again, I believe they are mounting a campaign based on a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts and the motives that underlie sensible and practical ideas. Indeed I believe that 38 Degrees are plain wrong to assert in their video that “Local Hospitals Save Lives”. The truth is often quite the opposite – bigger hospitals, further away with better facilities and more experienced clinicians save lives.

Delivering high quality health care is not about individual buildings or institutions but about the total system and resources in an area, and above all the talents and commitment of the people working in that system. Sometimes hospitals must close or departments be reorganised to enable high quality health care to be maintained. Imagine if we were trying to deliver twenty-first technology and medical care in exclusively nineteenth century hospitals.

Of course I would expect local MPs, councillors and the community to put up a robust defence of their own local hospital and the range of services it offers. I did this at Evesham some years ago. But we must eventually agree on outcomes that genuinely serve people’s needs and that is why, for example, I have supported the move of many services that were once delivered at Evesham to Worcester. I see nothing in what the government is doing that would have made it more difficult for me and the people of the town to speak up for Evesham Community Hospital as I did.

In Worcestershire we have just gone through a detailed review of the services provided by our three acute hospitals. The outcome will involve significant change in the patterns of service delivery – change that I support because it will ensure the quality and safety of those services. Changing technology and changing populations mean that hospitals must change too.

I emphasise that it is precisely because I share your admiration and enthusiasm for the NHS that I do not support the approach of the opponents of this proposal nor the amendment tabled by Paul Burstow MP, which would make it more difficult to build the modern, caring, effective NHS we all want to see.

The NHS is not about buildings but about health – and good health outcomes need the people, resources and procedures to make us well, and that will often mean significant change to individual hospitals. That is why I will be supporting the government in the lobbies this week.

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