Letter: Unfair to Straw the 'deceiver'

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was astonished to read your report (24 March) that the Labour Party is supposed to have a plan for a programme of hospital closures should we be elected on 1 May. We have no such plans. Indeed, specifically in relation to London, we have always said that we will put a moratorium on further hospital closures whilst we have a year-long independent review of the overall hospital needs of the capital city.

We have also recently outlined our proposals to insist in future - where a closure of a hospital or facility is suggested - that a public local hearing should be held, akin to a public inquiry, to give the local community the opportunity to cross-examine those putting forward any such proposal.

We have of course said that in government we will want to look at streamlining bureaucracy hierarchies in hospital trusts in order to release money that can be spent on patient care.

This does not however entail the closures of sites and facilities. Your reporter appears to have confused the two issues.

CHRIS SMITH MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Health

House of Commons

London SW1

The Editor writes: The Independent stands by its report.

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