Inquiry into maternity closures14th March 2007
An independent inquiry is to look into the planned closures of maternity units in the north-west.
Minister Hazel Blears is one of more than a dozen cabinet members to publicly protest against planned maternity closures in their constituencies, despite supporting the government policy for NHS reform. Ms Blears, the Labour party chair and a candidate to become deputy leader, is campaigning to save a unit in Salford. Junior health minister Ivan Lewis is also fighting closures in Bury.
Now health secretary Patricia Hewitt, who would normally rule on NHS reorganisation, has turned the decision over to an independent inquiry to avoid controversy. Her approval would have dismayed MPs, while NHS chiefs would have been outraged by a rejection of their plans.
Now the Independent Reconfiguration Panel will consider all proposals in the Greater Manchester area. A decision is expected by the end of June.
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