Published: 03/02/2005, Volume II4, No. 5941 Page 9
Health secretary John Reid is to be asked to call in plans to site a critical care hospital at Sutton in southwest London.
Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh - who hoped St Helier Hospital in her constituency would be chosen for the critical care hospital - is seeking legal advice and plans to ask for the decision to be referred to the secretary of state, possibly with the advice of the government's independent reconfiguration panel.
Ms McDonagh, who says she is supported by other local MPs, launched a fierce attack on local decision-makers in the NHS who she said were 'highly-paid bureaucrats' acting with 'arrogance'.
The decision to build the hospital on land next to the Royal Marsden Hospital was approved last week by the boards of Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals trust, Sutton and Merton primary care trust and East Elmbridge and MidSurrey PCT.
The critical care hospital would provide accident and emergency services, intensive care and many maternity services. Ten local care hospitals would provide an expanded range of services closer to people's homes, including much outpatient and day case work.
Both St Helier and Epsom Hospitals would lose some services, although they would be retained as local care hospitals.
The project aimed to create four minor injury units which would only be open during the day. But programme director Keith Ford said that following the consultation, it had instead been decided to develop two 24-hour urgent care centres.
Ms McDonagh claimed the needs of many of her constituents had been ignored by NHS managers. 'These highly paid bureaucrats are completely unaccountable and behave with utter arrogance, ' she said.
'I do not think they have the first clue on how to engage with people.
They have taken the high-handed approach that if people want to have a hospital next to them they should not be listened to.' Mr Ford said: 'I very much regret that we have not been able to convince her that the local care hospitals are the vehicles for tackling health inequality.' Chris Grayling, Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell, said the plans were unaffordable and would lead to a loss of beds for the area.