Former health minister attacks hospital plans

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A Lib Dem former health minister has attacked what he described as a costly reconfiguration of health services in his local area.

Paul Burstow, MP for Sutton and Cheam, criticised plans to close the emergency and maternity units at St Helier Hospital in his constituency.

The scheme, dubbed Better Services, Better Value (BSBV) by South West London Primary Care Trusts cluster, was set up to improve care, he said.

Mr Burstow told MPs: "They have discounted actual quality...and assume quality will improve with no explanation or evidence to justify this assumption that those not good now will necessarily become good in the future."

Mr Burstow said his constituents would have to travel longer and further because of a "dogma" that greater specialisation saved lives - but said evidence did not always support this.

Health Minister Anna Soubry said Mr Burstow was right to stand up for health services in his constituency.

But the minister continued: "This is not about cuts and if anybody makes that case then they are not doing anybody, and they are not doing this debate, any service, because this is not about brutal cuts.

"It's about trying to deliver the very best service for people throughout the whole of the area, seven days a week, 24 hours a day."

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