MPs row over future of A&E department

Royal Lancaster Infirmary
Royal Lancaster Infirmary
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TORY MP David Morris has accused Labour of ‘making up lies’ by suggesting Royal Lancaster Infirmary’s A&E department could close.

Speculation the department was under threat mounted after it was reported options forming part of a review of hospital services across the Morecambe Bay area included the emergency unit being replaced by a GP-led minor injuries clinic, the closure of intensive care and a reduction in maternity services and surgical procedures.

David Morris

David Morris

Labour Party members from Lancaster and Morecambe have launched a campaign to protect the A&E and other services at the hospital.

But the Morecambe and Lunesdale MP said he had received a letter from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust’s chief executive, Jackie Daniels, stating that the A&E would continue to treat around 50,000 people a year.

She wrote: “While it would be wrong of me to second guess the future, I personally find it hard to imagine Lancaster not having emergency services. Let me be clear, we do not have any plans to shut the Accident and Emergency department in Lancaster.

“We are deeply concerned that these continual rumours are undermining confidence and frightening the public.”

Mr Morris said he would be asking John Woodcock, Labour MP for Barrow and Furness, why his party had “chosen to make up lies” about the A&E provision.

He said: “From start to finish this has been a scare story with no factual basis.

“My opinion is healthcare has got better for my constituents with the opening of the new minor injuries centre in Morecambe and our A&E provisions in Lancaster.

“I do not approve of anyone playing party politics with the health of my constituents and I hope the letter from Jackie will draw a line under this.”

In a parliamentary debate on Tuesday, Mr Woodcock said he believed Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, wanted to move Lancaster’s A&E department to Westmorland General Hospital.

He said: “Let me simply say that any attempt to question Barrow’s need for an A&E department would be met with horror not only by every single resident of the Furness area, but by the prized and highly regulated industries on which the nation depends.”

He added a trust with just one A&E department and one maternity unit would “put an unacceptable strain on residents of Morecambe bay”.

However, Mr Morris responded: “For some weeks, the local press has been awash with allegations about both maternity and accident and emergency services at our NHS trust.

“A concerted Labour campaign has been mounted by local party members who actually work in the NHS to make people believe that the A&E is likely to close.

“The campaign involves press briefings, an online petition, a Facebook group and even people walking round the centre of Morecambe with clipboards inviting people to join.

“I want the e-petition removed from Directgov and have written to the Cabinet Secretary to ask for him to intervene.

“We cannot have this dishonest campaign fought through the Directgov e-petition platform.

“If the A&E is not under threat, it must be concluded that Labour is frightening people for its own political advantage, which is morally wrong.”