'Close health services to tackle inequalities'

Closing health services can help tackle health inequalities, Alan Johnson has said.

Alan Johnson Credit: Peter Crane

Peter Bone, a Northamptonshire Conservative MP and a member of the health select committee, told the health secretary yesterday that outpatient services within his Wellingborough constituency were closing due to the introduction of GP-led healthcare centres.

'If you close something and don't replace it, how can that improve health inequalities in my area?' he asked.

But Mr Johnson replied that 'it depends'.

‘If they're closing something because they're setting up a state-of-the-art stroke unit elsewhere, and patients will have that additional [choice], that as everyone agrees is the best way to go forward,' he said.

He cited the reconfiguration of Manchester's maternity services, which involved the closure of five units, as ‘the best argument for why you do need to do these things sometimes'.

Mr Johnson added that ‘80% and rising' of the new health centres will provide services other than GP appointments.


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