Brake: Aghast as Health Secretary Passes the Buck

April 20, 2007 9:51 AM

Tom Brake MP, MP for Carshalton and Wallington has condemned the Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt MP, Secretary of State for Health, for washing her hands of St Helier Hospital's financial crisis.

Tom Brake wrote to the Health Secretary on the 21st March 2007 to urge her to show more flexibility and understanding about the need for the Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust to be given more time to balance the books.

The Carshalton and Wallington MP's demand was prompted by disturbing reports of patients and staff shivering for lack of heating, lightbulbs being unscrewed to cut electricity bills, insectocuters being switched off and most importantly large scale staff lay-offs and bed reductions, all in a bid to meet crippling 'efficiency saving' targets.

Not only did Patricia Hewitt fail to deliver an adequate answer to Tom's inquiry and request, she casually passed the buck to the hospital's managers and denied it was her responsibility, claiming her Department provides "strategic leadership to the NHS and social care organisations in England, it is for local NHS organisations to plan, develop and improve services for local people."

Commenting on Patricia Hewitt's inadequate response to a deteriorating financial situation in the local hospitals, Tom said, "She will not be allowed to pass the buck!

"The Government fund the NHS and could show more flexibility. When I first raised this issue with her on the 21st of March, the Trust had to find efficiency savings of over £20 million over two years, now it is over £40 million. How much worse will things have to get before she sticks up for Sutton's residents?"


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