A Red Card For Health Minister From Local Politician

Stephen  Alambritis calls 'foul'

Merton's Leader Stephen Alambritis says he's showing Health Minister Jeremy Hunt a red card for the timing of the consultation on the closure of the A&E and maternity units at St Helier Hospital. He said:

"As a qualified football referee I can spot foul play a mile away. And I believe the consultation on closing St. Helier Hospital’s accident and emergency (A&E), maternity and other services is not fair play.

The plan is to consult over the summer on the proposal to close these vital services. But I know many people will be away at this time. It just doesn’t make sense to consult on something so important, that will have such a huge impact on thousands of Merton residents, when so many people will be on holiday or busy looking after their kids.

So I’m showing the Health Minister – Jeremy Hunt - a red card. 

The final decision on downgrading St Helier will be taken by Jeremy Hunt but the people who make the decision on the consultation are an unelected committee called the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

I am asking them to play fair and to delay the consultation until the autumn. That will give everyone a chance to respond and to make their views clear. 

I believe the consultation is flawed but I also think the proposals themselves are not in the interests of local people. Official figures show that waiting times in A&E have spiralled under this government. Closing St Helier’s A&E will only make the queues in other local hospitals longer.

But it’s even worse than that. The proposals would not only mean the closure of A&E and maternity services, they would also see St. Helier hospital’s intensive care units, children’s wards, renal services and hundreds of hospital beds close.

The council has already agreed that we will refer the proposals to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, who makes the final decision on the future of St. Helier. We will be telling Jeremy Hunt that the consultation is flawed and we do not believe these proposals are in the interests of local people. It’s time for him to let us know if he will stand up for St Helier or not."

June 13, 2013

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Stephen Alambritis