Erewash MP Maggie Throup has hit back at suggestions she has been slow to act in response to service changes at Ilkeston Community Hospital.
Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate Catherine Atkinson sparked the dispute by calling on the MP to fulfil her promise to hold a public meeting on the situation.
Maggie initially released a statement on July 3 saying she would hold the event to address rumours about the hospital’s future, but no further details have been forthcoming in the five weeks since.
Catherine said: “We know the NHS in Derbyshire is facing a shortfall of £80million, and that not only Ilkeston hospital, but local charities that receive NHS grants, are under threat of cuts as a result.
“It’s important that the Conservative MP for Erewash honours her pledge to hold a public meeting. We don’t want this to become another broken promise. Better still, she should rule out further health cuts in Erewash now.”
In a statement this week, Maggie attributed the delays to the difficulty of organising a meeting during a period when health leaders, public officials and local residents may be away on summer holidays.
She said: “I am committed to holding a public meeting in order to give residents opportunity to question key decision-makers about NHS provision here in Erewash.”
“I had planned to hold it by now, but felt it would be more appropriate to wait until early September, ensuring as many residents and decision makers are able to attend as possible.
She added: “The intervening weeks will also allow for more detail to be made available and in the public domain.”
The day before Maggie first announced the meeting, the hospital’s minor injuries unit saw its opening hours cut from closing at 10pm to the new time of 8pm.
That has left some residents fearing what further changes could follow, and 810 people have signed an online petition at https://goo.gl/244fG9 calling for NHS leaders to rule out bed cuts at the hospital.
In response, Maggie said: “I am of course aware of the recent changes at the unit, and I have been personally reassured by the hospital trust that it was a wholly strategic decision, not a financial one.
“This decision will mean that more staff are available to work during peak times, which is good news for patients.”
She added: “Despite continued rumours, I want to categorically reassure the public there are no plans to close Ilkeston Community Hospital.”