Responding to angry claims by the David Cameron's own local hospital that the Conservatives had got their facts wrong, Tory health spokesperson Andrew Lansley denied ever claiming that A&E services were under threat.
He told 5Live:
we wouldn't get that wrong, blimey, it serves David Cameron's own constituency.That was yesterday. This morning the BBC Today programme showed that the Tory document DID wrongly claim that A&E at the Horton Hospital, Banbury was under threat. Blimey indeed.
But it's even worse for Cameron. The Today programme has clearly demonstrated that Cameron's claims that maternity services in his own constituency are under threat is more scaremongering rubbish.
Sir William Stubbs chairman of the Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust told the Today programme this morning:
As far as the A&E is concerned, there is no threat, indeed it's rather the opposite, the board has agreed to invest additional funds in improving both the consultant provision and the nursing provision at the A&E, so that is not something that people need to be concerned about, indeed people living locally can to be reassured.That's more investment, not less Mr Cameron.
So what's left is the claim in his NHS cuts document that maternity services serving Mr Cameron's constituency are also under threat.
Sir William said changes to maternity services were taking place - but to improve, not cut the service. Change driven not by financial pressures, but by clinical need to modernise the service!
Sir William said it was a pity Opposition parties didn't check their facts before shooting nonsense from the hip. Indeed.
If the Tories had bothered to Google before publishing their damaging document, they would have found this Oxford and Radcliffe NHS Trust press release from just last month which includes the following information which would have saved a lot of egg on their faces:
Sounds like more NHS investment not less in your own back yard Mr Cameron. Check it out.
(Since 2003)... a number of significant developments have taken place within the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals. These include:
* the opening of the new Emergency Department at the John Radcliffe Hospital;
* the opening of the Children’s Hospital, Oxford;
* the transfer of adult services from the Radcliffe Infirmary, to state of the art facilities within the new West Wing at the John Radcliffe Hospital;
* the construction of the new Oxford Cancer Centre (which will open in the Spring of 2008), at the Churchill Hospital;
* considerable investment in the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, including the opening of a new Medical Assessment Unit, the installation of a new CT scanner, and the refurbishment of many areas of the hospital
Or this which took me three seconds to find on Google (italics are mine):
At its meeting in public yesteday (26 July 2007), the Board of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals accepted the recommendations of two clinical groups, and the Executive Board of the Trust, to implement changes to the way in which some of the services at the Horton General Hospital will be delivered in the future, including the expansion of some services. In making this decision, the Board also took account of the report and recommendations of the Stakeholder Panel.
Chairman Sir William Stubbs said: “The need to consider changes at the Horton General Hospital reflects our growing concern that we could not continue to run some services safely or to the highest current standard. We have a duty to our patients to do both.
“The decision of the Board to accept these changes is based on extensive evidence and advice from clinical experts, including staff running the services, and national clinical leaders in their fields. Changes in medical education, restrictions on the hours which doctors can work, and best practice guidance which indicates the need for fewer more specialist centres to provide services such as paediatric s and obstetrics, have all been factors which have been taken into account.
Non Executive Director Caroline Langridge said: "As a resident of North Oxfordshire, I want to ensure the best possible services for local people at the Horton General Hospital. Over the past two years, I have become convinced of the need for change in the paediatric, obstetric and gynaecology services. I have wanted to ensure that the changes were used as an opportunity to develop some first class services at the Horton, and were not simply a series of cuts. I am extremely pleased at the enhancements to the original proposals, as these allow for a number of important developments.
I am a keen supporter of birthing centres, and believe that the extra investment which we have agreed for the Horton will enable us to develop a first rate facility for women in North Oxfordshire. I also believe that the new children’s service will quickly be established as a real asset to the area. I have advocated the establishment of a women’s surgical ward at the Horton for some time, and am pleased that this is now possible.
UPDATE 1: The Daily Mirror reports that 15 - more than half - of the hospitals on Cameron's list have now complained that he has got his facts wrong.
UPDATE 2: The Tories have now apologised to hospitals in Telford and to the Horton in Banbury - in his own backyard.
UPDATE 3: The Tories have issued a press release refusing to back-down.
UPDATE 4: Half an hour after their press release in UPDATE 3 (above), journalists were pointing that it contained a major error. A new corrected press release has now been issued.
UPDATE 5: Bizarely, the Tories have now withdrawn their apology to the Telford Hospital, saying it was a mistake by a junior researcher. Channel 4 News reports that Telford Hospital say they have not been informed that the apology has been withdrawn.
See yesterday's posts Tory MP says sorry to hospital
Cameron battered in first eight rounds
Major's aide tells Tories to do more homework