Controversy over hospital closure clause

General Health tile
General Health tile

Claims that a new government policy could see Tameside and Macclesfield hospitals closed with little public consultation have been rubbished by the area’s MP.

Leading Labour councillor Caitlin Bisknell said Clause 119 of the government’s Care Bill would give health secretary Jeremy Hunt the power to close hospitals in financial difficulty with minimal consultation.

Trust special administrators would be appointed at failing trusts and could recommend whatever changes they felt necessary.

She said: “The NHS trusts which run both Macclesfield and Tameside hospitals have been identified as being in financial difficulty and risk being closed with minimal consultation if the government’s latest plans are voted through.

“I urge Mr Bingham to stand up for worried patients and the NHS and to vote to protect local NHS hospitals and services.”

But High Peak MP Andrew Bingham said the clause will actually extend the public consultation period, and ensure trusts also work with neighbouring organisations before any decision is made.

“There is a lot of misinformation about the Care Bill,” he said. “The trust special administrator (TSA) regime is nothing new. It was set up by the last government but has only been used twice in the last five years with neither time resulting in hospital closures.

“What Clause 119 does is make some changes to the TSA role to make it more effective. It extends the public consultation period from six weeks to eight weeks.

“Any single hospital trust is not an island, it has got to interact with neighbouring areas and neighbouring trusts to give a more holistic view.

“There will be more consultation with public and patients and they’ve got to have at least one public meeting.

“It is sensible to speak to neighbouring trusts and organisations because they are all inextricably linked. They are not just stand alone islands and we know that all too well in the High Peak.”

On Tuesday, MPs voted in favour of the change.