Luke's family to meet Tory leader

ON the day that health becomes the election's biggest political hot-potato, Luke Day's family are today hoping to arrange a meeting with Conservative party leader Michael Howard.

ON the day that health becomes the election's biggest political hot-potato, Luke Day's family are today hoping to arrange a meeting with Conservative party leader Michael Howard.

Mr Howard has written to the family in response to the letter they hand-delivered to the House of Commons and told them his office will be in touch to arrange a meeting.

Meanwhile, he has come under fire from NHS bosses and the Labour party who claim he has exaggerated MRSA statistics for political gain.

In his letter Mr Howard writes: "Words cannot express my heartfelt sorrow for what happened to Luke.


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"I know from my own family how terrible the effects of a death from MRSA can be, and I can only imagine just how awful it must be to have your son and grandson die in this way."

Mr Howard, who lost his mother-in-law to MRSA, wrote after receiving a copy of the heartfelt letter that the family also sent to Tony Blair and Charles Kennedy.

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The Evening Star took the family to the House of Commons earlier this month to deliver the letters but they have yet to receive replies from Mr Blair or Mr Kennedy.

Mr Howard's letter also briefly outlines the Conservatives' plans to reinstate matrons and improve hospital cleanliness.

Julie Fenton, Luke's paternal grandmother, said: "I'm really pleased to have got a response so soon and encouraged by the fact he wants to arrange a meeting.

"I don't know if it will happen but I would like to have the chance to sit down and talk to him.

"MRSA never seems to be out of the news at the moment and you read so many different reports it's hard to know what can be done, but as long as people are making a real effort to try and tackle it, that's the main thing."

Mr Howard's handling of the MRSA issue during the campaign came under fire from NHS bosses over the weekend. They accused him of deliberately exaggerating statistics in newspaper adverts and whipping up public fears.

Rosie Winterton, Labour health minister, said: "The last official figures show that MRSA rates are coming down.

"The only reason we know anything about the figures is because the Labour government made the decision to make them public.

"We have already introduced 3,000 modern matrons and a chief nursing officer to bring infection control issues to the fore, as well as investing substantial amounts of money on research."

The NHS will be at the centre of Labour's campaigning today as they announce plans to slash waiting times for breast cancer patients.

Meanwhile Ipswich Primary Care Trust has released new figures which show it is still £9.6m in the red, numbers of bed-blockers have risen and A&E waiting time targets are not being met.

What do you think should be done to tackle our region's growing health crisis? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

See pages 4 and 5 for more election news.

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