Campaign group "bitterly disappointed" with MP over Care Bill

REDDITCH MP Karen Lumley has been attacked for helping to push through a controversial measure that allows local hospitals to be closed or downgraded if a neighbouring trust is struggling financially.

Clause 119, dubbed the Hospital Closure Clause by opponents, gives England's health secretary Jeremy Hunt powers to close hospitals, even if they are performing well.

At a tense vote on Tuesday night a total of 297 MPs, including the Redditch MP, voted in favour of a new Care Bill, which includes clause 119, while 239 voted against it.

Campaigners fear that the move could have severe consequences for the town's Alexandra Hospital, run by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, which is expected to be £12 million in debt by the end of this year.

Neal Stote, chairman of Save The Alex Campaign, said he was "shocked and angry" with Mrs Lumley who recently appreared on BBC Hereford and Worcester Radio saying that she would have voted for MP Paul Burstow's amendment NC16 if it had been taken to the vote.

The amendment seeked to add a further clause which would have changed the effect of clause 119 hoping to address the widespread concerns.

It would have aimed to ensure that where a trust special administrator (TSA) is appointed, the TSA will treat all commissioners of NHS services equally.

The clause would have removed the unfair preferential position of the commissioners of NHS services of the trust which is in administration.

Mr Stote said: "The amendment was taken to the vote by Jamie Reed MP, Karen voted
against it.

"Karen needs to explain why she did not vote in favour of this amendment."

He added: "I am bitterly disappointed that our Redditch MP did not vote against Clause 119.

"Save The Alex hope to continue to work with our MP to get the best possible deal for the Alex Hospital.

"However given the state of the trust's finances and the real risk of it going into administration meaning clause 119 comes into effect, the public, Save The Alex, our councillors and even our MP would have no say on the final outcome."

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