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NHS Workforce and Service Development

Part of Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 3:27 pm on 11th October 2006.

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Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice Labour, Pendle 3:27 pm, 11th October 2006

My friend has abused the generosity that I demonstrated when I allowed him to intervene. There are plenty of opportunities for balanced discussion at the meetings of the parliamentary Labour party. I am trying to save my local accident and emergency department, as the decision will be made tomorrow.

The overview and scrutiny committee reports to my friend the Secretary of State, who has the power to refer the proposal to the independent reconfiguration panel, which consists of independent clinicians from across the United Kingdom who do not know east Lancashire. If they say that the department has to be closed—I say this to my friend Mr. Turner, who takes great delight in interrupting me all the time—we can live with that, because independent clinicians will have made that recommendation, not the director of accident and emergency services, who will speak at the overview and scrutiny committee minutes before the councillors are invited to make a decision.

There have been 13 recommendations from overview and scrutiny committees to the Secretary of State but she has passed only two of them on to the independent reconfiguration panel; that is not good enough. I had a meeting yesterday with Dr. Peter Barrett, who chairs the independent reconfiguration panel, and I told him that I hoped that there would be a reference through the overview and scrutiny committee to the Secretary of State, and that she would not throw it in the wastepaper basket, but that she would pass it on to that panel, which we on the Labour Benches set up to make recommendations that would carry public confidence—in this case in my constituency and the neighbouring constituency of my friend the Member for Burnley.