Sutton and Cheam MP promises to keep fighting for St Helier Hospital
SUTTON and Cheam MP Paul Burstow has rejected calls for his resignation as a government minister, as St Helier Hospital fights to keep its key services.
Mr Burstow has reiterated his determination to fight the "flawed" plans to close the A&E and maternity departments at St Helier.
And he has rejected criticism that he is in an untenable situation by appearing to oppose recommendations from NHS officials charged with reviewing services, while continuing as a health minister in David Cameron's Government
A 60-strong panel of GPs, NHS representatives and councillors in south west London last week recommended the Carshalton hospital should lose its A&E and maternity departments before hospitals in Croydon and Kingston, whose services were also under-threat.
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But Mr Burstow has not just called into doubt the St Helier decision, but the whole concept of reducing such key services.
He said: "We know that all maternity units across south west London are very busy.
"So too are the emergency departments, and it makes no sense in terms of quality or safety to close them."
Mr Burstow has pointed out that the panel's recommendations were not binding and simply marked the beginning of a process which will include a public consultation, expected to be held in the early autumn
He said: "A cloud has gathered over St Helier, but I believe we can mount a successful challenge to the assumptions that have led the panel to this conclusion."
Rejecting suggestions he had a conflict of interest, Mr Burstow, who is the care services minister, added: "It is important to say that these are plans drawn up by the local NHS.
"It is not ministers who made these proposals or led the decision-making process.
"It is therefore entirely right as a local MP that I stand up for what is best for my constituents by making sure that good, vital services are kept nearby."
St Helier bosses have promised to put pressure on health chiefs in the coming months, to ensure the panel's recommendations are not upheld.
Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of the trust running St Helier, said: "While we accept there is a case for changing the way NHS services are provided in south west London, we are disappointed that the panel has made this recommendation.
"The key criteria we expected the panel to use in making its recommendation were clinical outcomes, safety and patient experience.
"We know we do well in these areas, especially when compared to our local hospitals, so it is regrettable the panel have come to this conclusion."