The Conservatives in H&F have been accused of downright lies by Labour for warning us repeatedly that Charing Cross Hospital is threatened with closure. On 9th March the Government insisted in Parliament again that there were no such plans and asked the Conservative MP Greg Hands to stop scaremongering among local residents. Although Mr Hands is not the MP for our part of Hammersmith & Fulham the warnings have obviously caused some concern here given its our largest and nearest hospital. He says he is campaigning against the hospitals' closure on his website here. But if there are no plans, what is he campaigning against?
Having just last week had cause to use the hospital (can you believe I managed to dislocate my finger in the gym?!) and found the staff and equipment more like a private hospital than a bog standard hospital of old, I was pleased to read the exchange in Parliament below, which appears to undermine the Tories' warnings:
Andy Slaughter, Ealing, Acton & Shepherds Bush: ‘After five years, my constituents are fed up with Tory smears that my local hospital will be closed or downgraded or that it will lose vital services. In fact, it is expanding and improving under Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. At the risk of trying my hon. Friend's patience, I ask her to confirm again that there are no plans to close the A and E at Charing Cross, Hammersmith or St. Mary's hospitals.’
Ann Keen, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health: ‘I can give that assurance to my hon. Friend. There is no case for that at all.’
Barry Gardiner, Brent North: ‘...While discussing major acute trusts, I must comment on the intervention by the hon. Member for Hammersmith and Fulham (Mr. Hands), who is no longer in his place. He suggested that five accident and emergency departments would close at the eight north-west London hospitals. The "Healthcare for London" report actually talked of creating three major acute trusts. He has interpreted that to mean that three hospitals would stay the same and five would lose their accident and emergency departments, whereas in fact the strategic health authority has confirmed that all five will keep their existing accident and emergency departments, but three are due to be upgraded into what will, in effect, be super-providers. I trust that Opposition Members will now stop portraying as a cut what is in fact a proposed upgrade.’
Andy Slaughter accuses the Conservatives of having an "unhealthy relationship with the truth" here - and on the face of it he seems to have a point, unless we are to believe that Government Ministers are themselves telling lies to Parliament.