Warning over challenge to Lister choice

CAMPAIGNERS considering court action over the decision to centralise acute and emergency services at Lister Hospital and not the QEII could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds. This is according to chief executive of the East and North Hertford

CAMPAIGNERS considering court action over the decision to centralise acute and emergency services at Lister Hospital and not the QEII could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds.

This is according to chief executive of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, Nick Carver, who runs both Lister and the QEII hospitals.

Members of the Hospital SOS Taskforce - the group campaigning to centralise acute and emergency services at the QEII - have agreed to get expert advice as to whether there are sufficient grounds to launch a judicial review.

Mr Carver said: "Such a move could seriously jeopardise the many millions of pounds of investment planned for our local health services and adversely affect the quality of care we can provide.

"We are very confident the consultation process and decisions reached will withstand such scrutiny, should it happen, but I would urge those considering such a path to talk first with our senior doctors and nurses. They are desperate to get on with making the changes agreed by the health service.

"The delay will cost many hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' money.

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"We have a great opportunity to build something really special, but that will only happen if we seek now to move forward together."

Grant Shapps, Welwyn Hatfield's Tory MP, said: "Now the flawed consultation has decided to axe the QEII they don't plan to leave us with so much as a midwife-led maternity unit.

"They want Welwyn Hatfield to take tens of thousands more residents, but manage without a major hospital and that's a political scandal.

"That is why we're now actively considering a judicial review into the whole sorry state of our hospital healthcare provision."

But former chairman of Welwyn Hatfield Council Dennis Lewis said: "A judicial review will achieve nothing but undesirable delay which will feed the uncertainty which has bedevilled our health planning for the past decade."

Anne Wells, staff side chairman of the hospital trade union, said: "We fail to see what a judicial review would achieve, apart from delaying the process and upsetting the staff even more.

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