A&E consultation put on hold

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:43 06 May 2010

HOSPITAL bosses preparing to announce if Lister s A&E department will be downgraded have been stopped in their tracks by the Government. At the 11th hour, the Department of Health has told chiefs behind the plans to centralise A&E and acute services at ei

HOSPITAL bosses preparing to announce if Lister's A&E department will be downgraded have been stopped in their tracks by the Government.

At the 11th hour, the Department of Health has told chiefs behind the plans to centralise A&E and acute services at either Lister or the QEII Hospital in Welwyn GC that they must formally follow a new national process.

The previously imminent three-month public consultation will now not be launched until May as the East of England Strategic Health Authority must review it first.

Chief executive of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, Nick Carver, said: "While there will be many - including our staff and patients - who will be concerned by this additional hurdle, I would urge them to see this as helping to ensure that the consultation proposals have the full backing of the Department of Health and not just the health service in our part of the world."

Anne Walker, chief executive of the Hertfordshire primary care trusts, said: "We just now need to satisfy the Department of Health's review process to ensure that the information is ready for public consultation."

Hertfordshire County Council's health scrutiny committee, whose membership includes county councillors, district council representatives and the patient and public involvement forums, will take a central role in monitoring the effectiveness of the consultation, once it is under way.

At this stage, the committee has powers to refer matters to the Secretary of State for Health if it considers the consultation has not been properly carried out or if it feels the final decisions are not the right ones.

MP for Stevenage Barbara Follett said: "I am very sorry indeed that there has been yet another delay. We do not need this type of uncertainty in our Health Service.

"But, sadly, in today's litigious world, the fear of judicial review is a very real, paralysing, factor in decision making. So, because the consultation and its recommendations have to be trawled over yet again to make them as lawyer proof as possible we face another costly and frustrating delay."

You can still sign the petition to save Lister's A&E by:

* Visiting The Comet office at Bank House, Primett Road, Stevenage, SG1 3EE, and signing a form in our reception area.

* If any business or individual would like to help collect signatures, please contact The Comet on 01438 866200 for a supply of petition forms.


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