Column in Ilford Recorder 22 March 2012

People in Ilford, Redbridge and nationally care passionately about their NHS. Patients who depend on it, and staff who have devoted their lives to it, don’t want our NHS to be cut.  Local people also want nurses’ jobs protected and the needs of patients to be put first.  Already there are 3,000 fewer nurses since the General Election, with 6,000 nursing posts set to be cut by 2015. For ten weeks running, hospitals in England have failed to meet the Government's own lowered target for Accident & Emergency, meaning that more patients are waiting longer than four hours in A&E.  At Barking, Havering and Redbridge Trust the situation is even worse with ambulances queueing up outside Queens Hospital. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s decision  to close maternity and Accident and Emergency services at King George Hospital over the next two years will have catastrophic consequences.  Despite repeated vocal opposition, the Tory-led government arrogantly continues with plans that will cost billions and do nothing to improve frontline patient care. This week as the Lords, on Monday, and the Commons, on Tuesday, considered the Health and Social Care Bill for the last time  the government  still refused  to publish the ‘risk register’, denying Parliament and the British public the chance to see for themselves exactly what the Department of Health believes to be the major risks associated with the biggest  reorganisation of the NHS since 1948. Lib Dem grassroots members overwhelmingly voted not to support the  Bill at their spring conference. Yet  Lib Dem MPs  and Peers votedto support this damaging, unnecessary and costly folly. The Government’s first priority should be to protect the frontline of the NHS not waste billions on this unnecessary NHS reorganisation. Instead our NHS is under threat.

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