Welwyn Hatfield politicians fight to stop partial closure of Welwyn Garden City's urgent care centre
PUBLISHED: 10:56 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:08 21 June 2019
Welwyn Hatfield politicians - from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives - have all pledged to fight the partial closure of Welwyn Garden City's urgent care centre.
In a letter addressed to the East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is currently seeking views on closing the QEII at night, Welwyn Hatfield Conservative MP Grant Shapps said "it flies in the face of the original commitment."
READ MORE: NHS proposes partial closure of Welwyn Garden City's urgent care centre
"You will no doubt be aware that just over a decade ago the people of Welwyn Hatfield were promised a super hospital," Mr Shapps said in the letter (online here).
"I appreciate this was before your time, but all of us in Welwyn Hatfield were repeatedly given pledges by health bosses that the QEII, and local A&E services in particular, would be protected."
He said that Welwyn Hatfield residents have not forgotten these pledges.
"Moreover, in more recent discussions, the CCG and hospital trust agreed to look at encouraging patients who use Lister A&E at night for emergency cases, to better utilise the Urgent Care Centre," he said.
Labour is taking more of a people power approach and has set up an online petition on its website.
"The people of Welwyn Hatfield deserve much better and I urge everyone to sign the petition I have started," said Labour's parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Rosie Newbigging.
"Together we can show those in power that we cannot accept these cuts to our NHS.
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"The urgent care centre has never been a substitute for a fully functioning hospital with a 24-hour A&E.
"This proposed reduction in opening hours is another nail in the coffin of local provision.
She is also trying to find a date to discuss the plans further with the CEO of East and North Herts CCG, which Mr Shapps has also done.
Conservative Cllr Tony Kingsbury, and leader of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, has responded to the proposals for QEII by filing a motion to discuss it in the next full council meeting in July.
"My concern is that plans are being made based on current usage when we know that the demand on all our services is only going to increase - something we are working hard with our partners to plan for," Cllr Kingsbury said in a letter (that will appear in print in WHT on Wednesday).
Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrats said in a statement that they have reacted "angrily" to the news.
Lib Dem Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council group leader Malcolm Cowan, said: "Having people like me sent up to Stevenage is one of the reasons it is overwhelmed.
"We need a publicity effort to tell people they can be treated locally at QEII."
The WHBC meeting will be on 22 July in the WGC council offices at 7.30 pm.
To give feedback and find local meetings about the QEII proposals please go online here: qeiiucc.enhertsccg.nhs.uk.