Campaigning MP wins upgrade for his local hospital

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Indy Lifestyle Online

An Independent MP who caused one of the biggest upsets of the June election by campaigning for improvements to the health service has welcomed a proposed upgrade to his local hospital.

Dr Richard Taylor, the MP for Wyre Forest who defeated the Labour incumbent, David Lock, a minister, said plans to increase beds at Kidderminster General Hospital represented the "biggest U-turn".

The report into Kidderminster hospital was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Milburn, in June and written by Professor Ara Darzi, of Imperial College, London. It recommends a new £14m unit at the hospital be expanded to include up to 20 more beds.

Dr Taylor, a retired consultant, said yesterday: "This is the biggest U-turn because it recognises that there aren't enough beds in Worcestershire. It comes on the day when they have admitted that they will be 80 beds short across the county even with the new PFI [private finance initiative] hospital being built in Worcester. What they are offering us is, in fact, very welcome. It's far, far less than we would want and need but it's very welcome."

Dr Taylor said he and his supporters would still be pushing for full accident and emergency services to be restored to the town.

The report found that the range of surgery provided, especially for common operations, should be increased, waiting times reduced and access improved. Other measures include installing an extra operating theatre and forging better links between Kidderminster and other county hospitals.

Dr Taylor warned that the scheme would only be successful if Kidderminster was used as a county-wide facility to free beds in places such as Redditch and Worcester.

The Health minister John Hutton agreed with the report that the concept of dedicated service provision was "fundamentally sound" but the range of services and capacity needed to be increased.

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