Letter: London's hospitals: saving here, spending there

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Sir: In December 1988 Kenneth Clarke, as Health Secretary, announced the closure of Westminster's hospitals and the reprovision of services at a rebuilt St Stephen's Hospital in Fulham, to be known as the Westminster & Chelsea. Now, in October 1992, his successor, Virginia Bottomley, is likely to announce Tomlinson closures of probably an additional four London teaching hospitals, with a loss of 3,000 to 5,000 beds. However, while all this is happening, the Westminster & Chelsea, with 665 new beds, is due to open next year at an estimated cost of approximately pounds 250m. Much of this comes about as the consequence of the strategy of the new internal market.

Surely the time has come to question the role of the Treasury and health service managers and advisers, since any business run on such lines would have long since gone into liquidation. Yet in the public service those who are responsible for the long-term planning do not appear ever to be accountable for their mistakes and misjudgements.

Maybe the time has arrived for these upper-echelon advisers and planners to be replaced.

Yours faithfully,

ALAN MEYER

Chairman

The Westminster Hospitals Development Fund

London, SW1

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