Interests of all at heart

Our Health, Our Hospital. Your reporter seems to have missed the point about the debate on health held by the council in Stevenage last week. Stevenage Borough Council believes that issues relating to the health of our community and our hospital are too

Our Health, Our Hospital.

Your reporter seems to have missed the point about the debate on health held by the council in Stevenage last week.

Stevenage Borough Council believes that issues relating to the health of our community and our hospital are too important to be restricted to the narrow interests of party politics. Decisions on our health care must be made with the interest of all our community at heart and to ensure that we are all provided with the highest standards of clinical excellence, easily accessible to the maximum number of people and in locations which provide space and facilities to meet the needs of future medical advances.

The reason the coverage given by The Comet to date came under some criticism was because you have caused great concern to Stevenage residents by indicating that either QEII or Lister will close, which is not the case. Both hospitals will remain open. Neither is this a cost-cutting exercise, in fact there will be considerable additional investment in health care in Hertfordshire, some £100m.


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I, too, was sorry that two members of the public had to leave before they had a chance to speak. Our meeting started with presentations from the chief executive of the Health Trust, Nick Carver and the chief executive of the Primary Care Trust, Ann Walker - I am sure you would agree that it was essential for them to set out the facts about the restructuring process before we began our debate. The motion was then moved by Cllr Mike Downing, seconded by myself and the Deputy Mayor then invited our Member of Parliament, Barbara Follett to address the meeting. The member of the public concerned left during the address by our MP. However members of the public did speak during the debate to address the concerns of people in the north of the county regarding access to QEII and in praise of the staff at both hospitals. In fact the dedication and commitment of staff at our hospitals became a theme throughout the debate and it is a shame you did not choose to comment on that in your report.

The member of the public who had the last word in our debate spoke powerfully, a resident who has returned to Stevenage to live having been out of the country for a period of time, he reminded us what a tremendous asset we have in our health service. As we take these next steps to provide health care for the future needs of our community I hope that in Stevenage we will continue to have a mature debate about how this can best be provided. Of course, we all hope that Lister will be the site chosen to have the highest level accident and emergency provisions. We believe that the evidence of accessibility and scope for future provision speak for themselves and we will continue to argue our case strongly. We must trust our doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals to consider the question of medical excellence.

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The council has a role to ensure that we provide a forum where Stevenage people can discuss such important matters and we will continue to do so. Our councillors are elected representatives of those people and as such have a duty to involve themselves in that discussion. I am not sure who The Comet represents but you must have a responsibility not to leave people worrying that the doors are about to be locked on their hospital.

It is not helpful to oversimplify this discussion or portray it like a game in which either Stevenage or Welwyn Garden City will win. It might be the best way to sell newspapers but it is not the best way to discuss the future health of our community.

SHARON TAYLOR, Leader Stevenage Borough Council

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