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Ministers opposing local closures

29th December 2006

21042006_prem_baby.jpgHealth minister Ivan Lewis is opposing hospital cuts in his constituency despite supporting government policy which calls for some closures.

Mr Lewis is fighting plans to close a maternity unit at Fairfield Hospital in Bury. The closure reflects government policy to replace local maternity units with a fewer number of  bigger units offering specialised care.

He is one of a growing number of labour ministers to oppose closures in their constituencies. Labour Chairwoman Hazel Blears joined a picket line at her hospital in Salford, while Tessa Jowell, Harriet Harman and Phil Woolas, Home Secretary John Reid and Chief Whip Jacqui Smith have all opposed NHS cuts in their own areas.

Both Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt and Prime Minister Tony Blair have stressed how the push for new regional specialist centres will improve care and save lives.

Mr Lewis has said he supported this overall change, but opposes some of the individual closures, including those in his own constituency. Under changes backed by the Government, a number of maternity units across the north of Manchester will close and be replaced by a regional centre, sparking a huge public campaign.

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