Labour Parliamentary Candidates for Welwyn Hatfield and Stevenage have condemned the threat, by East and North Herts NHS Trust, to get rid of the shuttle bus to the Lister Hospital. Rosie Newbigging, candidate for Welwyn Hatfield, and Jill Borcherds, candidate for Stevenage have united in their opposition to the threatened loss of this essential transport service. The two PPCs have joined forces with local Labour councillors to launch a campaign to stop the bus from being axed.
The shuttle bus which runs from various locations in East and North Herts to The Lister, including from the New QE2 in Welwyn Garden City, is set to be abolished by the cash strapped Trust. The transport between the New QE2 and The Lister was promised when the former QE2 was closed, despite overwhelmingly local opposition, removing essential A&E and in-patient services from Welwyn Hatfield meaning that the local population – 120,000 and rising – has to to travel to Stevenage for essential care.
Rosie Newbigging, PPC for Welwyn Hatfield said: “The suggestion that the bus could be removed is a disgrace. A&E and in-patient beds should never have been removed for a population in Welwyn Hatfield of 120,000 and growing, with a projected increase of nearly 20% of the over 65s by 2030. In the last 15 years, Hertfordshire has lost vital emergency and in-patient services at local hospitals in Welwyn Hatfield, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead. Only Watford and The Lister remain providing A&E and other vital services and they are at bursting point. I have already heard from many local people in the constituency for whom the bus is an essential lifeline to access services. As parliamentary candidate, I am campaigning for the return of A&E and in-patient beds. Our neighbouring constituency is St Albans with a population of 140,000 and rising and we need a new fully functioning hospital to serve local communities. Labour created the NHS and only Labour can be trusted to save the NHS.”
Jill Borcherds, PPC for Stevenage said “The Lister is at bursting point. Waiting times for A&E and Cancer care are repeatedly missing targets and the CQC inspection in the summer found that the hospital requires improvement, with surgery rated as Inadequate. We will do all we can to resist any further downgrading of local health services, including campaigning to stop the bus from being removed. The Tories are starving the NHS of cash and this latest move is a sign of the desperate state the NHS is in. We are planning to launch a petition and lobby the Trust Board.”
Jill, Rosie, Labour councillors on Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Councillor will be writing to the Trust Chief Executive to put an immediate stop to plans to cut the bus.