Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, has issued a very strong condemnation of the "false choice" facing the Wye Valley Trust, and vowed to fight to save Hereford Hospital. He has called a public meeting to discuss the issue for Saturday March 16th at 10.30 am at the Starlite Room, Hereford United. In a strongly worded statement, he said:
"The Wye Valley Trust is being pushed into a false choice by NHS chiefs who have been unwilling to grasp the real source of Hereford Hospital's financial deficit, which is the ruinously costly PFI contract, and the unfair NHS funding formula. There must be no talk of cutting or merging services in Herefordshire until both these issues are properly addressed.
"I have been fighting for the Hospital for three years now: ever since I first identified the PFI contract as the real reason for the high car parking charges at the Hospital. In 2010 I commissioned an independent study of underfunding of public services in Herefordshire, which showed a £9 million annual shortfall for the Hospital alone. Since then I have taken this issue to doctors, to the Trust board, to NHS regional and local heads, and to the Secretary of State for Health.
"Last year I launched the Save Hereford Hospital website http://www.saveherefordhospital.com/ with my colleague Bill Wiggin MP, in order to highlight the issue and build local support. I would encourage all concerned local people to visit the website and register their support.
"My national PFI campaign has so far recovered £2-2.5 billion for the taxpayer. But ironically until now very little has been done within the NHS to recover excess PFI costs at Hereford Hospital.
"However, I am very pleased to report that thanks in part to my pressure, the Wye Valley Trust is at last starting to tackle the PFI issue. It has now withheld some £2 million in PFI payments because of the contractors' failure to ensure adequate fireproofing when the Hospital was first built. There may well be additional withholdings as further investigation of the contract is undertaken.
"This shows the potential savings to be made. Now what is needed is fairer funding from the NHS itself."
Jesse has also called a public meeting for Saturday March 16th at 10.30 am at the Starlite Room, Hereford United. All are welcome to attend.