Labour squabbling is damaging local health

Dear Editor

So, the home secretary, Labour Party chairman and Labour chief whip are all campaigning against implementation of NHS policy in their constituencies. Hazel Blears will be able to give the threatened maternity unit in Salford meaningful and persuasive support, in due course, through Patricia Hewitt.

Surely there can be nothing wrong in representing constituents on local issues.

The problem comes when the  Overview and Scrutiny Committee refer the matter to the health secretary who is a cabinet colleague of the local MP. This is where democracy ends and bias could start.

One can contrast this with our Saxmundham Health One Stop Shop in Suffolk that actually won unanimous PCT approval but has been halted with the cuts. John Hutton (while health minister) wrote  ‘I hope this project can be progressed as soon as possible’.

The significance and value of this is that his comment came as an objective minister commenting on a principle — since he had no local involvement whatsoever.

Our MP is John Gummer, who has been a long-term supporter but is playing for the wrong political team. How easy would our task be if we had a Labour minister who could simply support the original local PCT decision?

The real folly for this government is that the divisive cuts are to save the £93m NHS deficit. This amount is less than 1 per cent of the amount (£12bn) that is being invested in the NHS computer system — they are fighting internally and publicly about pennies while pounds burn in the grate.

Dr John Havard


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