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Maternity care is not just a Labour issue

March 24, 2014

[Here is my letter  in response to local Labour – a version edited by the local press will be published on Friday]

Dear Editor,

Nick with Margaret Williams at the march in Eastbourne

Nick has been involved in the campaign to protect East Sussex emergency services since 2007

I wonder if Labour’s home-grown candidate for MP would say that her Leader, Ed Miliband, represents Doncaster less well because he wasn’t born there?

Her letter in last week’s Observer exhorts the Coalition government to ‘rethink their insistence on dismantling the NHS’ as well as to join her campaign to save consultant-led maternity services in Hastings and Eastbourne.

I am afraid the Lib Dems don’t have the purchasing power of the GMB Union or City backers to fund regular adverts in your paper, but I hope you will allow me to make a few points in response.

First, Liberal Democrat ministers working within the Coalition Government have ensured that the NHS remains free at the point of delivery, with competition based now on quality, not on price. We have won hundreds of amendments to Health legislation during this parliament, and we will not be lectured from your Letters Page by a Labour Party that introduced the Private Finance Initiative into the NHS with disastrous fiscal consequences.

Second, as someone who has spent the last 15 years – yes 15 years, not 15 minutes – working with and alongside NHS colleagues, I can reassure your readers that local Lib Dems are determined to secure excellent emergency services right across East Sussex: services that are commissioned by clinicians rather than managers.

Third, I am baffled by the statement that Labour’s candidate will ‘be meeting with members of the Clinical Commissioning Group’. There was an opportunity to do this at the public consultation meeting held at Sussex Coast College a week last Monday to which, with no explanation or apology, Labour’s candidate did not turn up.

At this meeting I put the travel time issue direct to Dr Wilcox who was sitting on the Panel for the CCG and was able to get his commitment that the CCG will share its research on this crucial issue through a pro-active press campaign. Dr Wilcox, if you are reading, we are waiting. I also pressed for transparency on how decisions will be made by the three CCGs in July.

My final point is that obstetric emergencies are a labour issue, but not just a Labour issue. Let’s work across the County (as we have been doing for nearly 10 years) and across the political parties to win safe, efficient and sustainable maternity care, not grandstand in a way that comes across as partisan and, frankly, inexperienced.

Yours truly,

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