Labour appeals over Care Bill ‘at risk’ services

Labour is appealing for Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs to help block measures it says will give ministers sweeping powers to close hospitals.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said clause 119 of the Care Bill – due to be debated in the Commons today – would allow Jeremy Hunt to “ride roughshod” over local residents’ concerns.

The Opposition has highlighted more than 30 cash-strapped trusts they argue would be “at risk” if it was made easier to rationalise services.

The Government has brought forward amendments to the Bill after a court threw out plans to downgrade Lewisham Hospital in the face of fierce local objections.

Mr Burnham said: “This Government used to say it wanted to put patients and doctors in charge of the local NHS. Now Jeremy Hunt wants to ride roughshod over local communities and have carte blanche to break up the NHS without anyone else having a say. He must be stopped.

“With more and more hospitals in financial difficulty, this move could hit every community in the land and leave them voiceless in the face of changes to their services.

“Labour is clear: changes to hospitals should be driven by clinical, not financial, reasons with local people involved every step of the way. That is why we believe these plans are dangerous and wrong. It is time for Parliament to stop an arrogant Secretary of State from overstepping the mark.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “These claims from Andy Burnham are irresponsible scaremongering of the worst kind – changes to the special administrator regime will simply ensure that patients get safe care, and these powers have only ever been used in extremis twice since 2009, when Labour introduced them in the first place.

“This Government is determined to turn round failing hospitals, unlike the Opposition, which didn’t confront the sort of under performance and failure we tragically saw at Mid Staffs.

“If anything, our proposals extend the requirement to consult and engage with local people and local doctors, and it’s nothing but an act of political opportunism to suggest otherwise.”

Here are the NHS Trusts Labour claims would be “at risk”:

  • Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust;
  • United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • Barts Health NHS Trust;
  • Bedford Hospital NHS Trust;
  • Croydon Health Services NHS Trust;
  • Ealing Hospital NHS Trust;
  • East Cheshire NHS Trust;
  • East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust;
  • Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust;
  • Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust;
  • Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust;
  • Weston Area Health NHS Trust;
  • Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • Wye Valley NHS Trust;
  • Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust;
  • University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Bolton NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust;
  • The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Medway NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust