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Labour and Tories pledge reconfiguration plan block

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Senior Labour and Conservative health figures have committed to blocking reconfiguration plans if their party wins the general election.

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At a Labour campaign meeting in west London on Saturday, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said he would block a review into the future of services at Charing Cross Hospital. He said the plan to downgrade services was “drawn up in different circumstances” to the current landscape.

Imperial College Healthcare Trust, which runs Charing Cross, has proposed to sell more than half of the hospital’s site as part of a wider review of services in north west London called Shaping a Healthier Future. The trust is awaiting guidance from NHS England’s urgent and emergency care review before it makes a decision on the hospital’s accident and emergency department.

Mr Burnham said: “There is a new reality in the NHS and that reality is A&E is under intolerable pressure; hospitals are at their limits.

“We will call an immediate halt to this review. It’s never right that politicians say, ‘We will decide purely for political reasons where services should go’. There has to be a new clinical review of what’s been happening here.”

He added that the plans would “still have to be subjected to a clinical review” but added: “My view is the evidence is saying it would be unsafe to proceed with those changes and the programme should be stopped at this point.”

Last month, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he opposed leaked plans to replace two hospitals run by Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust with a single facility.  

He told the Epsom Guardian: “The Conservative Party doesn’t support these plans and wouldn’t implement them in government.”

Mr Hunt added that smaller local hospitals have a “vital role to play in the future of our NHS”.

Both Mr Hunt and Mr Burnham have also pledged to bring back a 24 hour A&E to County Hospital, previously called Stafford Hospital. Mr Burnham told BBC Radio Stoke that the hospital should have a “full range of services”.

Overnight services at the A&E were closed in December 2011 due to safety concerns caused by staff shortages.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Politicians need to commit to the rules they set for reorganisations which can include giving more emphasis to general community and patients' interests.

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