Rochdale MP jubilant over Government Health rethink!

February 16, 2007 9:44 PM

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen is jubilant after the Secretary of State for Health confirmed that she will review the decision to close Child-Care and Maternity Services in several hospitals across Greater Manchester. The decision was given after a question from the Rochdale MP, who has fought an 18 month battle alongside residents in Rochdale with Health Bosses to reverse the decision to slash vital hospital services.

Paul said, "This is absolutely brilliant news for Rochdale and we are a step closer to maintaining the health services that Rochdale needs and deserves. I would like to pay tribute to the hard work of the Friends of our Hospital led superbly by Father Arthur Nearey and the 50,000 plus people who took part in the consultations. We never gave up despite all the supposed odds and we now move on to the next stage of the campaign to convince Patricia Hewitt MP to acknowledge that losing Child Care and Maternity Services in Rochdale would be disastrous. This is a victory for Rochdale and there is now light at the end of the tunnel - the fight has reached a new stage and we are now extremely hopeful."

The surprise decision was revealed in House of Commons - Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt MP left her colleague - Health Minister Rosie Winterton MP to announce the news that will give hope across Greater Manchester. This is how it happened:

Paul Rowen MP (Rochdale): What requests has she has received from Overview and Scrutiny Committees in Greater Manchester to review the Making It Better and Healthy Futures consultations?

Rosie Winterton MP - The Independent Configuration Panel will undertake a review of the issues raised in relation to the reconfiguration of inpatient services for women, babies, children and young people in Greater Manchester.

Paul Rowen MP - Can I welcome that annoucnement from the Minister. I am sure that she is aware of the very strong feeling that exists within Rochdale about the Rochdale Infimary, ably led by Father Arthur Nearey from the Friends of Our Hospital. Could the Minister tell us what the timeframe is for that inquiry is and if they will be consulting with the Friends of Our Hospital on the actual proposals?

Rosie Winterton MP: There will certainly be full consultation on these proposals. We will announce the timetable in due course. It is obviously a quite large area to be covered so that I would expect it to be at least three months before any consultation will be concluded.

Paul Rowen MP continued, "I will now be meeting with Father Arthur Nearey, Councillor Jean Ashworth and all the other campaigners from the Friends of our Hospital to plan the next part of the campaign. It is quite obvious that whilst we should celebrate this Government U-Turn, it was done because we refused to give up. The decision will now be reviewed by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) I welcome the fact that I received an assurance that the Friends of our Hospital would be involved and I would expect them to extend that courtesy to campaign groups across Greater Manchester."

The news was welcomed with delight by Father Arthur Nearey from the Friends of our Hospital who said, "This is a brilliant decision, if unexpected - this could really be the turning point in the campaign to save Maternity and Childcare services in hospitals across Greater Manchester. I always hoped that common sense would prevail and I think that this may herald a better and healthier future for Rochdalians."

Councillor Jean Ashworth, a nurse at Rochdale Infirmary said, "The staff at the Infirmary are overjoyed, especially the midwives. We dug in and now have a second chance, across Greater Manchester communities now feel that they have been listened to. It just goes to show that with a strong campaign and a never say die attitude we can get the Government to listen. Paul Rowen MP has worked extremely hard on this campaign and I am delighted for him that it was his question in Parliament that has now given hope to so many."


For further information please call Paul Rowen MP on 07976 295 205 or Dave Hennigan (Rochdale Lib Dem Press Office) on 01706 712 186 or 07955 427 453.