Closing time?

PUBLISHED: 17:25 19 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:03 06 May 2010

Lister Hospital

Lister Hospital

LISTER Hospital could be forced to close. That is the fear of local MPs as they anxiously await the results of an acute services review by the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA). The multi-million pound plan to build a super-hospital in Hatf

LISTER Hospital could be forced to close.

That is the fear of local MPs as they anxiously await the results of an acute services review by the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA).

The multi-million pound plan to build a super-hospital in Hatfield could also be scrapped.

North East Herts Conservative MP Oliver Heald said: "The future of the QEII and Lister is not safe and not at all clear. All that is clear is that we are having cutbacks made.

"We have accepted some cutbacks in recent years because we knew the new hospital in Hatfield was being proposed. But now it looks as if they are going to scrap it.

"We have spent three years asking what is the best way forward with the research conducted in the Investing in Your Health programme but at the drop of a hat they are having this review.

"It's extremely worrying and every time I take it up with ministers they refuse to engage. I'm beginning to think of them as the 'not me Gov' brigade."

Conservative MP for Hertford and Stortford Mark Prisk clashed with Patricia Hewitt during a heated debate at the House of Commons last week, when the future of our hospitals was broached.

He told The Comet: "The Government seems to have no real care for our health service anymore."

The objective of the review is to agree a new pattern of hospital services that will meet the demands of 21st century healthcare and be financially sustainable.

But the SHA has refused to rule out closing any of the region's 19 hospitals.

Dr Paul Watson, director of commissioning for the SHA, said: "Modern clinical standards demand that some services need a much larger caseload than exist in most district general hospitals (DGH) in order to guarantee the best possible clinical outcome.

"These clinical services need to be centralised in a hospital which would serve the catchment area of several of the current DGHs."

Hitchin Conservative MP Peter Lilley said: "It's extraordinary that we are likely to lose some of our general hospitals.

"I'm very worried and will again try to raise the issue with Patricia Hewitt next week.

"As I understand it, it looks likely that at least the A&E and acute services at Lister will stay open, but patients needing planned surgery will have to travel.

"The prospect of the new hospital in Hatfield is also receding into the distance."

Stevenage Labour MP Barbara Follett said: "I want an end to the paralysis which has left the county with an outdated and extremely expensive hospital system. "Hospital provision in Hertfordshire desperately needs updating.

"But, and this is a big but, by duplicating too many of our services, we have lived well beyond our means and may not now be able to afford to fund the new hospital in Hatfield."

She added: "I just don't know if there is any truth in the rumours [that hospitals in the region could close]. It's a question of cost."

A spokesman for the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust said: "We cannot give reassurance one way or another. We don't hold the purse strings."

The first stage of the review is due to be completed by the end of October.

A more detailed review and public consultation will follow, before a final decision is made in the New Year.


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