Nick Herbert says PCT 'choice' campaign must be April Fool joke
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has branded a new campaign launched by the West Sussex Primary Care Trust "an April Fool joke".
The Campaign, 'more choice for patients in West Sussex', says that from 1 April patients will be able to choose any hospital in England.
A campaign poster depicts a mother and child, with the caption "I want a clinic that's close to my family."
The adverts have run in local papers and on local radio, commissioned by the Department of Health.
Nick Herbert said: "I really did wonder if this campaign was an April Fool's Day joke. I find it astonishing that the PCT can promote hospital choice when it has been seeking to take choice away from West Sussex patients by downgrading hospitals and centralising services.
"Mothers who want their local maternity units to be retained at the Princess Royal, Worthing or St Richard's hospitals will read these adverts telling them that they've got a choice, only to discover that the service has been closed and they have to travel miles to a single consultant-led maternity unit in the county.
"Perhaps West Sussex residents are meant to be relieved that they can choose any hospital in England, since hospital services in their own county might no longer be available?"
The MP added: "I'm a strong supporter of patient choice, but this requires meaningful information and real choice to be available. I suggest that taxpayers' money would be better spent on securing high quality local facilities and not on this kind of propaganda."