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Patrica Hewitt snubs local Health Committee

February 8, 2006 2:44 PM
Patricia Hewitt

Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt MP, Secretary of State for Health

Following the shock intervention by Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health, changing the venue for the new critical care hospital to St Helier, instead of the Sutton hospital site next to the Royal Marsden, the joint health scrutiny committee formed by Surrey, Sutton and Merton to monitor the implementation of The Epsom - St Helier NHS trust's plans for "better health-care closer to home" called a meeting for Monday 13th February to hear from the various parties concerned. The Secretary of State was invited to attend and clarify how the siting of the critical care hospital at St Helier will best address the health needs of all residents in the relevant areas. However she has refused to attend or send any representative.

On Monday her secretary advised that " ... The Secretary of State will not be able to attend the meeting on Monday 13th of February ... " and today, in answer to a question, added " .. The Secretary of State for Health will not be sending a representative or submitting written evidence to the meeting ... ".

County Councillor Colin Taylor, who is one of the representatives from Surrey on the committee, said "We know that their Labour MP has rightly pointed out that Merton is an area of 'health inequality' and needs more GP's and clinics. However the Better Healthcare Closer to Home scheme anyway included extra Local Care centres in Merton, providing the much-needed clinics and facilities for GP's."

"What is puzzling us is how any additional benefit to Merton from moving the new Critical Care Hospital nearer to them, when they already have three alternative major hospitals nearby at St Georges, Mayday and Kingston, can justify the severe dis-benefit to the people in this part of Surrey, whose only alternative major hospitals are miles away in Redhill, Chertsey or Guildford."

It seems that Patricia Hewitt is unable to answer this question either.