Opposition challenge to hospital closures

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Indy Politics
THE LABOUR Party will harden its opposition to the reorganisation of London's health services today with a report challenging the assumptions on which the Government is going to close some world-famous teaching hospitals, writes Colin Brown.

The report will enable Labour to campaign against the closures which are expected to be proposed next week in a statement to the Commons by Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health.

John Major requested a revision of planned closures, leading to speculation that he had intervened to preserve part of Bart's.

It is now expected that Bart's will remain on its site, but Brian Mawhinney, the Minister of State for Health, last week met local GPs to discuss plans for boosting local primary care facilities if part of Bart's was closed.

Mrs Bottomley will face criticism for compromising on Professor Bernard Tomlinson's report on the reorganisation. But Sir Rhodes Boyson, a former minister with a London constituency, said he would oppose the closures.

'I cannot accept that there are 2,500 more hospitals beds in London than there should be when I am battling every week to get people into hospitals for normal operations. There is a shortage of beds in London. They should come and talk to my constituents,' Sir Rhodes said.

Dr Mawhinney and Mrs Bott omley have accepted the central recommendation in the Tomlinson report that primary care should be improved before the hospital closures commence. Professor Tomlinson called for a minimum of about pounds 140m to be invested in improved primary care.

Labour wants more than pounds 400m to be invested in primary care before hospitals close.