Michael Fabricant and nine councillors and charity workers from Lichfield
and Burntwood met with Lord Hunt of Kings Heath at 4pm today (6th November)
at the Department of Health in Whitehall to discuss plans to reduce hospital
services in Lichfield and Burntwood. "Everyone attending was able to put
their point of view across to the Minister and he realised that people in
Lichfield and Burntwood are united in opposition to the cut in services that
are being proposed" says Michael Fabricant. "This opposition cuts across
any Party divides. For example, Councillor Peter Barrett, the Leader of
the Labour Group on Lichfield City Council, pointed out that the Health
Authority had made no reference to area structure plans which show a 30%
increase in population over the coming years. I added that with such a
population increase, we should not be considering any cuts in services".
The Minister and civil servants were present and Michael Fabricant was
promised that the Minister of Health, John Hutton, will write with the
Governments conclusions in a few weeks time.
As well as Michael Fabricant who lead the delegation, representing
Burntwood Town Council was Cllr Joe Brown; representing Lichfield City
Cllr Tony Thompson, Cllr Mrs Fiona Royle, and Cllr Peter Barrett;
representing Lichfield District Council was Cllr Jill Dunsmore;
representing Hammerwich Hospital League of Friends were Ron Jones –
Chairman, John Wright – Treasurer; and representing Lichfield Hospital
Comforts Fund Committee were
Mrs Paddy Land, and Mrs Dorothy Godfrey.
Cllr Jill Dunsmore and Cllr Joe Brown both expressed concern over the amount
of money that has been earmarked for the new hospital. Given that this
includes the cost of demolition of existing buildings, there is
considerable concern that there is insufficient money being made available.
There is also concern that the sale of land on the existing hospital sites
in Lichfield and Burntwood would be seized by the Treasury and not be
reinvested for health care in the area. The Minister was unable to answer
this point. Meanwhile, the three Burntwood representatives were deeply
concerned that no in-patient nor out-patient services are to be kept in
Burntwood. It was pointed out that public transport between Burntwood and
the proposed hospital at St Michael’s in Lichfield is inadequate.
Other matters discussed in the 40 minute meeting included: (1) the number
of beds available in Lichfield and Burntwood (it was pointed out that the
amount "up to 52" is meaningless. There are 52 beds already); (2) the
proposal to move Day Surgery away from Lichfield is unacceptable; (3)
the long-term future of the Maternity Unit is still in doubt and that too is
unacceptable to the people of Lichfield; and (4) there is doubt as to
whether there is sufficient room for future hospital expansion and car
parking at the proposed Lichfield site (St Michael’s) and whether
sufficient funds have been allocated for the necessary road widening that
will also be necessary.
Finally, Michael Fabricant pointed out that the Prime Minister had stated
his desire to achieve ‘local agreement’ over health provision in Lichfield
and Burntwood. "This has not been achieved" Michael Fabricant told the
Lord Hunt. "You can see this by the strength of feeling of this delegation
and by the Health Authority’s own report which confirms that the majority of
people responding oppose these plans to reduce hospital services in
Lichfield and Tamworth."
Michael Fabricant says "The Minister listened to all these points with
courtesy and asked penetrating questions. However, we await John
Hutton’s letter with great interest. I hope he will respond with action
and funds not just tea and sympathy. I believe that the Health Authority
has moved a long way over the last year or so. For example, plans to
close the dialysis unit in Lichfield have now been shelved after a fight.
We are 80% there. I hope the Government will provide the funds to enable
us to have the hospital services in an expanding area that we are all