Health group officer support withdrawn

PUBLISHED: 12:47 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 22:23 26 October 2009

A GROUP trying to get the best deal for the health of Times Territory residents has had a vital resource axed. The Tory administration on Welwyn Hatfield Council has withdrawn officer support for its health working group, much to the anger of political op

A GROUP trying to get the best deal for the health of Times Territory residents has had a vital resource axed.

The Tory administration on Welwyn Hatfield Council has withdrawn officer support for its health working group, much to the anger of political opponents.

It means councillors on the cross-party group will have to prepare and circulate their own agendas, minutes and reports, as well as organise their own meetings.

Lib Dem councillor Nigel Quinton said: "If we don't get the support, it won't be fit for purpose.

"We need the health working group now as much as we needed it last year.

"Going forward with the detailed decisions that need to be taken and the pressures that need to be put on the PCT, it's absolutely vital we have proper support for that."

Cllr Quinton said the council was not expecting the large settlement it received from central government, so should not have any excuses not to be able to fund a few hours of work from an officer.

"A half-day will suffice," he added. "We're talking peanuts in terms of cost."

Former Tory borough councillor and Hospital SOS Taskforce member Dr Dennis Lewis told the WHT the health working group had been "consigned to the dustbin by penny-pinching leadership".

"At the very time the council should be marshalling the community to express its health needs loud and clear, at a time of great change, the administration has abrogated its responsibilities.

"A great opportunity for the council to influence the shape, function and location of the health, social and welfare services in Welwyn Hatfield is about to be lost."

Council leader John Dean had attempted to justify the reasons for withdrawing officer support at the latest full meeting.

He said that since the county council had taken over health scrutiny matters, the group had been left with "no powers and little influence on health matters".

Cllr Dean added he hoped to use other bodies such as the Welwyn Hatfield Alliance to continue to press health bosses on behalf of the borough's residents.

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