July 26, 2006
If you had the chance to ask in public one question of the Prime Minister, what would it be?
If you had the chance to ask in public one question of the Prime Minister, what would it be? “When are you going to get the message and quit?” seems to be rising up the chart as the people’s choice, but each of you will have your own priorities. I had that chance at Prime Ministers Questions last week. To be honest, the choice was not difficult.
As regular readers of this column will know, I am most concerned about the future of our two specialist hospitals, Mount Vernon and Harefield. Both face great uncertainty about their long term future. In the case of Harefield, a strong local campaign, led by Heart of Harefield, has seen off the folly of moving the hospital to Paddington. I am pleased to have played a part in seeing those responsible being held to account in Parliament.
However that victory did not answer the question, “what is the future of Harefield?” The staff and patients want to stay on the current site. The Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust, under the clearheaded leadership of Bob Bell, recognise the value of Harefield and want to get on with the investment required to bring the facilities into the modern age. They are supported in that view by a recent, independent report which urges the system to get on with settling the future of the hospital in the interests of patients. The problem is getting a decision out of the NHS in its current state of disarray. It was against this background that I asked the Prime Minister to join me in calling for the future of the hospital to be resolved quickly. He did so. So now they have heard it from the top. Harefield is a world leader in its field. Let’s get and fix what needs fixing so that it can save even more lives."