Maybe there was a rational reason why the Tory Liberal Minister could not attend the debate and vote on the NHS and local hospitals.
However, it is good that attention was paid to Central Middlesex Hospital in the debate.
Barry Gardiner MP for Brent North said,
Barry Gardiner: Thank you, Sir. I shall try to respect your advice.
In November 2011, the following announcement appeared on the Central Middlesex hospital website:
“A and E at Central Middx Hospital is temporarily closing overnight between 7 pm and 8 am starting from Monday 14 November 2011.
The urgent care centre next to A and E will remain open 24 hrs a day 7 days a week to treat patients with minor injuries and illness.
We are making this temporary change to ensure we continue to provide a safe service to patients during the winter months.”
In those three paragraphs, we hear twice over that that overnight closure is temporary, which gave minimal comfort to my constituents in Brent who used the facility. The overnight closure is indeed temporary. On 2 July, a consultation entitled “Shaping a healthier future” was launched in north-west London, and residents can submit their views until 8 October this year. The consultation, promoted by a transitional body called NHS North West London, aims to centralise and rationalise hospital services in the area. Each proposal outlined in the consultation includes the closure of the A and E at Central Middlesex—not overnight provision, but the 24-hour facility—for good.
The motion speaks of
“the growing gap between Ministers’ statements and what is happening in the NHS”.
I may have trouble agreeing with that, because it depends on which Minister and which statements. The Minister of State, Department for Education, the hon. Member for Brent Central (Sarah Teather), received an e-mail from me today advising her that, if called to speak, I would quote her in this evening’s debate. I wanted to do so, because she made the following three statements. First:
“The Tories would be a disaster for the NHS, they plan a part privatised service”.
The second quotation:
“These cuts will hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest”.
The third quotation:
“The government must take urgent steps to safeguard our local NHS”.
Those three quotes date respectively from 2003, 2007 and 2007, when the hon. Lady was campaigning to keep open the accident and emergency centre at Central Middlesex hospital—campaigning for something which she, in her government, is now closing. No wonder her latest comment is:
“This flawed consultation, which does not allow residents to say that they want to save the A and E, is a kick in the teeth for all local people.”
I do not speak Parseltongue—I do not understand it—but I deplore the pretence of opposing a policy that you are pushing through in government. That is really disgraceful.
Even Tory MP for Ealing, Angie Bray MP spoke out against what is happening. She said,
Angie Bray: As my right hon. Friend is aware, the proposal is to downgrade four accident and emergency departments across London that are all right beside my constituency. Does he agree with my constituents that losing four accident and emergency departments is disproportionate and will mean a significant loss of service for them locally?