Westminster protest plan
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 has passed an em
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 has passed an emergency motion rejecting the hospital's closure with council leader, Councillor Geoff Harper, calling the possible deputation "a reasonable suggestion".
The emergency debate was instigated by former council leader Councillor Alan Melton, a district and county councillor, who claimed Fenland faced a threat to its health service on two fronts.
Not only was Hinchingbrooke, which served the south of Fenland, at risk, he said, but in the north of Fenland, around Wisbech and other villages, there had emerged a threat to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King's Lynn.
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"The whole of Fenland is affected by these proposals," he said.
He added it was ironic that the Government was insisting on 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.
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"It is important to realise that each and every one of us are stakeholders in this," he said.
Councillor Kit Owen said he was not sure what the council could do about the closure threats and councillor Martin Curtis thought Fenland's influence would be minimal because of central Government control over health spending.
However, 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, Councillor 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 Hospital, £24million in debt, could be decided in a matter of weeks.
Meanwhile the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King's 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 expressed confidence that "our location, 40-50 miles away from the Norfolk and Norwich and Addenbrooke's, means we will certainly keep our A and E.