Surrey MPs have accused the government of reducing their local NHS to a Third World service. In an adjournment debate in the Commons last week, the Conservative MP for Guildford, Nick St Aubyn, led the challenge to funding cutbacks, which ministers claim are necessary to redress a historic overspend in the county. If we are the healthiest and wealthiest, why do we have a health authority with the most people waiting up to 18 months? asked Mr St Aubyn. Former Conservative health secretary Virginia Bottomley, MP for Surrey South West, said cancer patients were facing lengthy waits and cancellations.

Professionals are in despair. Things have gone far enough. Junior health minister Gisela Stuart denied that Surrey was being unfairly treated, but accepted Mr St Aubyns invitation to visit west Surrey to see for herself.