Hospital closure clause passes through Parliament

The contentious Clause 119 of the Care Bill, which introduces powers for the Secretary of State to close or downgrade a hospital if a neighbouring trust is struggling financially, has been passed through Parliament. A total of 297 MPs voted in favour of Clause 119, while 239 voted against it.

As stated earlier this week on PSI, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has been vehemently opposed to the clause, and told MPs yesterday: “It subverts the established process in the NHS which requires that any changes to hospitals should first and foremost be about saving lives, rather than saving money, and it puts management consultants, not medical consultants or GPs, in the driving seat.” For his part, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has stated that the powers would only be used in “exceptional circumstances”.