Speech by Brenda Kerslake.

February 16, 2007 9:54 PM

Before we discuss my report can I congratulate the Council for their firm stance against the cuts to services at Rochdale Infirmary. The united stance by this Council is part of the reason why the Secretary of State for Health has called this in for further scrutiny. This is a victory of common sense for the people of Rochdale and Heywood. Of course, we are here discussing vital services at both Fairfield Hospital and Rochdale Infirmary. The fact that health bosses were willing to close these services in the whole of the North East Sector of the Acute Pennine Trust was a disgrace. I hope that the Independent Reconfiguration Panel whatever its make up will recognise the importance of Child Care and Maternity services to this Borough and vote to keep Child Care and Maternity at Rochdale Infirmary and Fairfield Hospital.

As Chair of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, can I thank the committee for a wonderful debate last week. This debate from all sides was a positive reflection of the hard campaign that most of us have had a part in. Can I thank Council Officers for their report and I hope that finally we have been listened to properly. When this campaign started it became quite clear that everyone in this Borough was behind us. Most of the time, the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee has done reflected the wishes of the people of the Borough during the campaign - It is quite right that we continue to do so. I thank Paul Rowen MP, whose Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Health prompted this announcement from the Government. Paul has worked solidly in Parliament and indeed Rochdale to keep this on the agenda. Despite attempts from several Labour MP's to give up the fight - he, Councillors Jean Ashworth, Ashley Dearnley, Father Arthur Nearey, Carole Ashworth-Lord and the rest of the Friends of our Hospital NEVER GAVE UP HOPE.

I also hope that the Labour Candidate for Rochdale regrets his comments to the Rochdale Observer that Paul Rowen and the literally thousands of campaigners had failed Rochdale. He should regret his comments and looks very foolish after this latest development.

Just to let you know the process that will now be followed - The Independent Reconfiguration Panel will now be set up. They will then receive the complaints from Rochdale, Bury and Salford Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee. There will then be a number of public meetings across Rochdale and Heywood and a recommendation will come before the Secretary of State for Health within 2 months. On behalf of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee I will recommending that the Panel come and hear from our Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and I will be also recommending that they also go to the Heywood, Pennines and Rochdale Townships so that most of us affected will get a chance to have our say.

I am happy to take questions….