MP support for save our services battle

A FIGHT for Suffolk's health services launched by The Evening Star has today been backed by MPs from the far reaches of our region.while the government announces extra resources are available.

A FIGHT for Suffolk's health services launched by The Evening Star has today been backed by MPs from the far reaches of our region.

The Star is battling for a crunch meeting with health secretary Alan Johnson to ask why local hospitals and other health services are forced to make cut backs while the government announces extra resources are available.

It was revealed Ipswich Hospital had to take out a £23.4million loan from the government this year - adding to its £17.3m of historic debt - while the Department of Health announced the NHS nationally would make £1.8billion this year.

On behalf of counties across the UK, the Star wants answers from Mr Johnson about how he is going to help struggling local health services, why the government is making things harder for hospitals by forcing them to pay interest on NHS loans and why the £1.8b cannot be used to help clear local debts

Ipswich Hospital's loan is part of a massive £777.9m loan to trusts across the UK.

Sir Michael Lord, MP for central Suffolk and north Ipswich, said: “I entirely support the Evening Star's campaign in support of local health services for local people.

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“Having encouraged the NHS and hospitals like Ipswich to spend much more money in recent years, the government is now slashing spending in a desperate attempt to balance the books.

“The sensible approach would be to allow hospitals like Ipswich to balance their books over a longer period of time so that the effects are not so catastrophic.”

Douglas Carswell, MP for Harwich and Clacton, said: “I applaud the Evening Star's effort to get the minister come to Ipswich and explain why he is doing so much damage to Ipswich Hospital.

“It is time for some proper local accountability over our local NHS.”

David Howarth, MP for Cambridge, said it was his Parliamentary question to the Department of Health which was instrumental in unmasking the full extent of NHS surpluses.

He said: “I asked why Brookfields Hospital in Cambridge had to close when vast amounts of public money was lying unspent elsewhere in the accounts of strategic health authorities.

“We have witnesses some truly tragic cuts to services in Cambridge and now we discover that nationally the health service is in surplus. It is not acceptable to lurch from bust one year to boom the next.”

John Whittingdale, MP for Maldon and East Chelmsford, said: “I share your concern about the financial pressure on the National Health Service which is leading to cuts which are now severely impacting on patient care.

“I very much support the Star campaign and will be pressing the government to write off the debt which my own local trust, Mid Essex Hospitals' Trust, still has outstanding.”

Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst, deputy speaker of the House of Commons, said he agreed with the thrust of the Star's campaign and would be saying much the same thing in respect of primary care facilities which serve his constituents.

Chris Mole, MP for Ipswich, said: “The national NHS surplus is an accounting figure, as was the national deficit, because it is the net of surpluses and deficits across all the trusts in the country.

“Sadly it is not available to trusts other than in the form of a loan, like the £23m loan Ipswich Hospital already has received.”

N Should the £1.8billion NHS underspend be used to ease the pressure on troubled hospitals like Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

OUR attempts to question health secretary Alan Johnson and force him to stand accountable to local health services have so far been met with silence.

We have telephoned, e-mailed and written to the Department of Health in the past ten daysto ask for a meeting with Mr Johnson but have had no response.

Today we have contacted Mr Johnson's staff again, but have not heard back.

We will not let Mr Johnson fade into the shadows after this issue and Suffolk MP Sir Michael Lord has vowed to raise the issue with his fellow Parliamentarian.

Sir Michael Lord, MP for central Suffolk and north Ipswich, said he fully supports the campaign to ease the financial pressure on Ipswich Hospital and other health services.

He said: “I plan to meet the secretary of state for health within the near future and will certainly draw his attention to the Evening Star's campaign and the problems now being faced by my constituents.”

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