John Penrose MP...
PUBLISHED: 12:54 02 May 2006 | UPDATED: 09:12 24 May 2010
In amongst this week's awful news about health cuts at Weston General Hospital, another pot of trouble is quietly brewing.
In amongst this week's awful news about health cuts at Weston General Hospital, another pot of trouble is quietly brewing. Most of the hospital's money comes from our local Primary Care Trust, which handles the funding for Weston's GPs as well. But the Primary Care Trust is in debt, so the bureaucrats have recommended merging North Somerset healthcare into Bristol.That would be a disaster. It would put Weston-super-Mare back 20 years to the days when Avon ruled the roost. In those days Bristol grabbed most of the cash, leaving North Somerset as the orphan scrabbling for leftovers. A lot of today's health problems were caused by spending decisions taken back then, which we're still trying to solve. When the idea first came up I corralled all but one of the MPs in North Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire to write to the Government opposing it. North Somerset Council backed us up, and others did too. I was delighted that we'd achieved an impressive cross-party show of unity. The Government should have heard our message loud and clear.But the problem hasn't gone away. Bureaucrats aren't elected, so they don't have to listen to the voters. They can carry on regardless, which is exactly what they're trying to do. The plan keeps on resurfacing in spite of near-unanimous local opposition. Every time we think it's well and truly dead, it pops up again somewhere else.The local MPs have kept lobbying the Health Secretary about it, and so has the council. We've tried everything, and now the moment of truth is getting close. Who will win? The voters or the bureaucrats? It is in the Government's hands. It would be a bitter pill if, on top of the cuts at Weston hospital, we're forced back into Avon too.