Delays at Lister are ‘crazy’ council leader says

A COUNCIL leader has demanded an MP puts pressure on the government to agree the final stage of redevelopment at Lister Hospital.

Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council said a delay in signing stage four of the planned redevelopment at the hospital is costing the health service �600,000 a month in lost efficiencies.

Cllr Taylor called on the town’s MP, Stephen McPartland, to “step up to the plate”.

“He should be banging on the Health Minister’s door to show his support for the health needs of Stevenage people. It’s time for some long overdue action from Mr McPartland,” Cllr Taylor said.

“This vital next stage of the Lister’s development must be signed off now. The health trust can’t proceed with the new radiotherapy unit, which local people have long campaigned for.

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“This delay is also costing the local health service, and therefore taxpayers, a massive �600,000 a month. Huge amounts of money are being wasted because of government indecision, at a time when the National Health Service is having to make swingeing cuts. It’s just downright crazy! “

But Mr McPartland said Cllr Taylor’s criticisms were a personal attack “based on nonsense and bitterness.”

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“The only delay to the Lister redevelopment was by the previous government’s refusal to sign the outline business case,” he said. “Once elected, I organised a summit meeting in the Department of Health with myself, the minister, the chief executives of the trust, the primary care trust and NHS East of England and a variety of special advisors and civil servants.

“Myself and the chief executive of the trust were successful and, once the outline business case had been tested in detail, it was agreed by the minister and reported on the front page of The Comet.

“I have continued working closely with the trust and the minister to have the final business case signed off after it has been through the Department of Health’s processes.

“We expect this to be completed any day now and we can continue with the massive new government investment programme of over �250m in Stevenage.

“It is a pity that instead of supporting me to get a good deal for Stevenage, the Borough Council continues to play petty politics.”

The question of a delay and its cost was raised at a Herts County Council health scrutiny committee meeting with the East and North Herts NHS Trust last month, which Cllr Taylor attended.

Chairman of the trust, Nick Carver, told The Comet: “Assuming that the Trust’s outline business case is approved quickly, there will be minimal risk of a significant delay to the final consolidation of all remaining inpatient and emergency services at the Lister, planned currently for early 2014.

“Should this happen, then the associated risk in securing the Trust’s future projected savings should also be minimised.”

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