Woodward: No hospital sell off

Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward campaigns in Reading, Berkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 20, 2010. See PA story ELECTION Labour. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward campaigns in Reading, Berkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 20, 2010. See PA story ELECTION Labour. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

SHAUN Woodward MP has been given assurances that Whiston and St Helens Hospitals will NOT be privatised – but has warned that the battle is far from over.

A leaked document, of course, recently suggested that both Whiston and St Helens Hospitals could be privatised because of a multi-million pound budget shortfall.

But Mr Woodward, the MP for St Helens South and Whiston, says he recently held productive talks with health minister Simon Burns.

He said: “I have been campaigning hard to ensure that St Helens and Whiston Hospitals are not privatised and the health minister gave me his assurances that privatising our hospitals is not a consideration.

“I am confident that we should be able to win any attempt at privatising the hospitals, but we have not won the battle yet.

“In the last few weeks I have been out meeting staff, patients and on the streets signing up members of the public to the campaign and I would urge the public to continue expressing their very real concerns and sign the petition to continue to put pressure onto the government to ensure that no privatisation does occur.”

Mr Woodward added: “The Government has opened a Pandora’s box for the whole health economy. There is a monumental challenge facing the PCT cluster.

“There may need to be movement in the local health economy and I am open to hearing options which would secure the long-term funding for our hospitals as long as privatisation is not one of those options.

“I will be continuing, alongside my parliamentary colleagues and the Save St Helens & Whiston Hospitals campaign group to ensure that we win this fight.”

Readers can sign and download the petitions online at: www.swashh.co.uk

Meanwhile, union chiefs at Whiston Hospital are calling on members to protest against the government’s proposed NHS Bill in Manchester tomorrow (Thursday, July 7).