Nick Herbert urges public to reject all three hospital options proposed by PCT
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has urged the public to reject all three hospital reconfiguration options proposed by the West Sussex Primary Care Trust and instead to indicate their support for keeping acute services at all three hospitals in the county.
The MP warned against falling into the PCT's trap of allowing one hospital to be pitched against another, saying that to back any of options A, B or C was "a tremendous risk".
Option A would see St Richard's downgraded with no A&E, options B and C would see Worthing downgraded, and all three options would see the Princess Royal Hospital downgraded.
Mr Herbert said: "Supporting one or more of the options proposed by the Trust might seem like the best way to keep a local hospital. But it isn't. It will simply be counted by the PCT as a vote for downgrading our hospitals. This is a trap, and we mustn't fall into it.
"Backing any of the options is also a tremendous risk, because the PCT might well say, ‘Ok, so now you agree that hospitals should be downgraded - bad luck, we've decided that the one we're going to knock on the head is yours.' We really can't afford to play Russian roulette with the future of our local hospitals.
"The right option is ‘none of the above' - adding that we want the Trust to consider a new option of keeping our acute hospital services. That's the united message we should send, that's the way to get the PCT to consider alternative options, and that's the best chance of keeping full A&E services at your local hospital."
Hospital campaigners have been encouraged by indications that the PCT is now considering a new option which would allow consultant-led emergency services to be retained at Worthing, St Richards and the Princess Royal Hospitals.
However, there remain concerns that the PCT still envisages a single maternity unit for the whole of West Sussex.
Mr Herbert, whose constituents use all three hospitals affected, added: "It's because we have all stood together and rejected the PCT's entire approach that a new option is being considered.
"I welcome any change of heart by the PCT, and I urge local communities to remain united, to reject options A, B and C, and to keep the pressure up for ‘option D', which would see A&E services being retained at all of our hospitals."
Nick Herbert will be speaking at meetings organised to discuss the proposed hospital changes in Pulborough on Monday 29 October and in Henfield on Thursday 1 November.
He will also be attending the rally being organised by the Support St Richard's campaign on Saturday 27 October.
Notes for Editors
1. West Sussex PCT's formal consultation on Fit for the Future closes at 9.00 am on Wednesday 14 November 2007.
2. Pulborough's public meeting on Fit for the Future is at 7.00 pm on Monday 29 October at Pulborough Village Hall.
3. Henfield's public meeting on Fit for the Future is at 7.00 pm on Thursday 1 November at Henfield Hall.