Hinchingbrooke closure protest to travel to Westminster

PUBLISHED: 11:10 18 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:14 28 May 2010

A DEPUTATION may go from Fenland to Westminster to protest over the threatened closure of Hinchingbrooke Hospital which councillors claim could have a devastating effect on tens of thousands of people in the Fens . Fenland District Council last night (Th

A DEPUTATION may go from Fenland to Westminster to protest over the threatened closure of Hinchingbrooke Hospital which councillors claim could have a devastating effect on tens of thousands of people in the Fens .

Fenland District Council last night (Thu) passed an emergency motion rejecting the hospital's closure with council leader Geoff Harper calling the possible deputation "a reasonable suggestion."

The emergency debate was instigated by former council leader Alan Melton, a district and county councillor, who claimed Fenland faced a threat to its health service on two fronts.

Not only was Hinchingbrooke at risk, he said, which served the south of Fenland, but in the north of Fenland, around Wisbech and other villages, there had emerged a threat to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Kings Lynn.

"Let's make no mistake," he said. "The whole of Fenland is affected by these proposals."

He said it was ironic that the Government was insisting upon Fenland taking an extra 11,000 homes - which the council was happy with - yet it was vital to retain and develop a proper infrastructure, which included easy access to hospitals.

"It is important to realize that each and every one of us are stakeholders in this," he said.

Councillor Kit Owen said he wasn't sure what the council could effectively do about the closure threats.

And councillor Martin Curtis thought's Fenland's influence would be minimal because of central Government control over health spending.

Councillor Mac Cotterell welcomed Fenland's proposed initiative, telling councillors he "dreaded to think what might happen" if people from Wisbech were forced to make the difficult journey along the A47 to a hospital in Peterborough .

The deputation to Westminster was suggested by opposition Labour leader Steve Cawthorne who said that if there was deep rooted concern then "why not get the leader to take a deputation to London ."

Cllr Harper told him: "Let's do just that."

Cllr Melton added: "Fenland should tell the Government to do what they did with the proposed police reforms- bin them."

The fate of Hinchingbrooke, £24 million in debt, could be decided in a matter of weeks. It has already announced 200 job cuts

Meanwhile the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Kings Lynn is thought to be one of those being considered for possible cuts after the strategic health authority ordered a review of acute hospital services across East Anglia.

The hospital's chief executive Ruth May said the announcement had sent ripples through the hospital community.

But she expressed confidence that "our location, 40-50 miles away from the Norfolk and Norwich and Addenbrookes, means we will certainly keep our A and E.

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