Department of Health does not know the number of hospitals currently under threat of closure
Shailesh Vara has slammed the Department of Health for not knowing how many hospitals around the country are under threat of cutbacks or closure.
Shailesh Vara, Conservative MP for North West Cambridgeshire, has slammed the Department of Health for not knowing how many hospitals around the country are under threat of cutbacks or closure. In a reply to a written question from Mr Vara, Andy Burnham MP, Minister of State at the Department of Health (DoH), said that the Department does not hold data on which hospitals are currently being reviewed by Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) around the country.
Mr Vara asked the Secretary of State for Health how many reviews were being undertaken by SHAs into the level of services provided by hospitals in England and Wales, which hospitals were the subject of those reviews and if the DoH had issued any guidance for the conduct of those reviews. The reply received said: 'It is for strategic health authorities to determine which schemes should be reviewed and the Department does not currently hold validated information. The Department has recently begun a piece of work with SHAs to understand which services might be subject to review and the Department can support the SHAs in this task.'
Mr Vara said:
"There are dozens of hospitals around the country, including Hinchingbrooke Hospital in my own area, currently under review. The outcome of these reviews could be cutbacks to services or even closure. Recommendations to reduce services have already been made in some instances. The fact that the Department of Health does not know the hospitals under review is a severe abdication of responsibility. The fact they are only now starting to do some work on this area is an insult.
"Given that the Secretary of State for Health has to negotiate the NHS's budget each year with the Treasury, it is unbelievable that her department does not hold data on the current round of hospital reviews. This is symptomatic of the Department and another reason why there are so many financial difficulties affecting the National Health Service.