Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom BLenkinsop, today (January 19th 2012) slammed what he called the ‘utter indifference’ and ‘abdication of responsibility’ by Health Minister, Andrew Lansley over plans by the South Tees Hospitals Trust to close a ward at Guisborough Hospital.
The Truest plan to shut the Chaloner ward with a loss of a number of beds, a move that, according to Tom ‘could presage the total closure of the site over time’.
Tom said “I have vowed to try and halt the closure of this hospital ward which specialises in recuperation, respite care and care for the frail elderly, as I fear that the loss of the whole ward would raise costs and thereby give a reason for the total closure of the hospital at a later date.
Only a week or so ago I asked Mr Lansley how he valued such local hospital facilities and I got a honeyed reply saying that issues like local care and local recuperation were essential for a fully responsive health service. Given this, I then tackled him on why he could not put a block on the plans to shut the Chaloner Ward. He ducked an open answer, saying he would write to me.
I now have his letter, and it is clear that he is going to make no move whatsoever to take action on this local issue. He says that patients will not suffer and ‘he has been told that there are no current plans to shut the hospital’. Evasive language like that fools no-one. What does ‘current plans’ mean? It is the language of bureaucrats not wishing to make a full honest commitment to the maintenance of services on the site. It shows the utter indifference on the part of Andrew Lansley towards the patients and staff at Guisborough, and is an abdication of his ministerial responsibility to maintain a local NHS hospital presence in East Cleveland.”