LETTER: Debate in Parliament needed over Burnley General Hospital closures

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Regarding the article “This decision lets down children” on Friday, May 13th.

Much of the article focuses on the role played by Gordon Birtwistle and there is no mention of the claims made by Andrew Stephenson in June, 2010, that he had won the campaign to stop the closure of Burnley Children’s Ward. This claim is documented in his “Pendle Matters” broadsheet.

Obviously this claim was premature, as Andrew Lansley has now walked away from whatever Andrew Stephenson believed to be a commitment regarding the Children’s Ward.

At the beginning of April, I wrote to Mr Stephenson suggesting he called for an adjournment debate over both the failure to deliver on the Children’s Ward and the A&E Nomenclature Review.

Mr Stephenson replied: “Regarding an adjournment debate, I will keep it under review. As there is progress occurring behind the scenes, I do not believe an adjournment debate would be useful at this time.”

I decided to await the outcome of the “behind the scenes activity”, but was shocked to discover that on April 26th, Simon Burns, the Health Minister, effectively kicked the A&E Nomenclature Review into the long grass. He did this in the following written answer to Paul Flynn MP.

“Mr Simon Burns: Work is being carried out by NHS North West working with colleagues in NHS South West to look at the possibility of creating a common offer for England to ease navigation of the urgent and emergency care system for patients. No date has been set for publication of the findings.”

This is particularly disappointing, as the review of Burnley Urgent Care Centre carried by Professor Matthew Cooke and Dr Irvine Cobden in June, 2010 stated: “We believe there is an urgent need for clarification of the role of Burnley UCC to the public and NHS staff.”

Following this revelation, I again wrote to Mr Stephenson on May 1st, 2011, asking him what he was going to do that would inject urgency and a positive outcome of the Nomenclature Review.

I have not received a reply, but I remain hopeful he will reply to me, as I am one of his constituents.

It is obvious to me the statements made locally by Nick Clegg and Andrew Lansley to conjure the impression that A&E and the Children’s Ward would be positively resolved were without any tangible value.

This must be an embarrassment for both Gordon Birtwistle and Andrew Stephenson (assuming they believed Clegg and Lansley) but they can still redeem the position with a concerted effort.

I still believe the start of this effort should be Mr Stephenson calling for an adjournment debate on behalf of the people of Pendle, similar to the excellent debate he organised to express concerns about the treatment of Christians in Pakistan.

JOHN BOARDMAN

Chatsworth Close, Barrowford