Local MP Alex Cunningham told the Commons it was time to end the uncertainty over the future of the NHS, scrap the proposed changes to the way it works and help deliver a new hospital for Teesside.
Alex spoke up in the debate about the way in which the NHS on Teesside has suffered since the Coalition Government came to power, highlighting the withdrawal of funds for the planned North Tees & Hartlepool Hospital, the rejection of plans for a community health centre in Billingham and the job losses that are expected to happen across the NHS in the North East region.
But he said there was still hope for a new hospital if there was greater clarity about the future of the NHS.
“I know that the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust took the Government at their word when they said the trust had powers to raise the funding itself and it prepared a new business plan on that basis. To make it move from new business plan to new hospital, we need to remove the uncertainty in the NHS, particularly about privatisation and competition, and we need the Government to provide a loan guarantee to help keep borrowing costs down. Without that, some of our communities with the greatest health needs will have to make do at a time when budgets are under pressure.”
Last night MPs rejected a Labour call for the proposals to be abandoned, but the coalition’s parliamentary majority was cut by more than a third as MPs debated the controversial plans.
The Debate was held as the Government announced a ‘pause’ in its plans for the NHS following criticism from the BMA, Royal College of GPs, Commons Health Select Committee and Royal College of Nursing. Following dismal local election results last week Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has also threatened to block NHS reforms unless changes are made to the plans.
During the debate Alex also said:
“The British Medical Association says that the plans are too extreme and too rushed, and will negatively impact on patient care. Nurses voted overwhelmingly for a vote of no confidence in the Health Secretary, and even the Tory-led Health Committee criticised the plans, saying that they were unlikely to improve patient care.”
“My message today is simple. The Government must take on board the criticisms that have been made and come back to the House with significant changes.”