Health campaigners want MPs to block a new law they think could leave St Helier Hospital in ‘serious danger’.
The Carshalton and Wallington Labour party are petitioning MP Tom Brake to oppose and vote against clause 118 of the Care Bill, which they believe could see the beleaguered hospital downgraded with minimal public consultation.
MPs Paul Burstow and Tom Brake
The clause, which is currently going through Parliament, states that an administrator taking action in relation to a hospital trust in financial difficulties would be able to take action in relation to another NHS trust which is "necessary for and consequential on action taken in relation to that NHS trust".
Campaigners fear this would allow administrators to close hospitals near to failing trusts - similar to what was attempted with Lewisham Hospital in South London.
Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) would have just 40 days to consult on changes proposed by an administrator which campaigners fear would limit the power of any public consultation which could prevent hospital closures.
The views of CCGs could be overruled by NHS England which would result in local decision makers having no real power over key reconfigurations of their hospital services.
Prospective Labour party candidate for Carshalton and Wallington, Siobhan Tate, dubbed the Clause 118 the ‘hospital closure clause’.
She said: "Clause 118 would give the health secretary sweeping new powers to impose fast-track closures and downgrades on any hospital; regardless of how well performing it is, if there is a struggling hospital nearby."
However, Mr Brake said Clause 118 did not allow for the ‘fast track’ closure, backdoor privatisation or downgrading of any hospital and was not relevant to St Helier’s current situation.
He said: "The safety and well-being of patients should always come first. In the rare event of the failure of a health care provider, it is important to get on with resolving the problems whilst ensuring patients can continue to access the care they need."
The MP for Sutton and Cheam, Paul Burstow, agreed and said: "No hospital is an island, each is part of a complex web of services and relationships. When an administrator is appointed it is important they can look at that web and work out how best to safeguard local health care. That is what 118 does."
To sign the Carshalton and Wallington Labour party petition against Clause 118 visit change.org