Parties united in reform concerns

Scarborough Town Hall where the full council met yesterday
Scarborough Town Hall where the full council met yesterday

COUNCILLORS of all political persuasions came together yesterday to express concerns over what the Government’s controversial health reforms would mean for Scarborough.

At a meeting of the full borough council yesterday, a motion introduced by Labour group leader Cllr Eric Broadbent raising issues was passed unanimously.

The Health and Social Care Bill 2011 will be debated in the House of Commons today.

The motion, which will now be forwarded to health secretary Andrew Lansley, read: “In particular the council is concerned that the bill contains no indication that NHS hospitals will receive protection from insolvency.

“Given the precarious financial position of Scarborough NHS Trust, the council seeks assurances from the Secretary of State that a district general hospital offering a wide range of essential services, including an accident and emergency department, will always be maintained in the borough.”

The Conservative leader of Scarborough Council, Cllr Tom Fox, took the opportunity to second Cllr Broadbent’s motion.

Cllr Broadbent said the “radical” bill would “overhaul the NHS as we know it”, and could lead to an American-style, free-market system, placing hospitals in Scarborough and Whitby under threat.

Responding to Cllr Broadbent, Cllr Fox said: “I do not second the speech, but I second the motion.

“I can allude to concerns about NHS services and where we are with our own hospital in the borough.”

His fellow conservative cabinet member Jane Kenyon described the motion as “very worthwhile”, saying that services in the borough of Scarborough could be first in the firing-line following the merger with York NHS Trust.

Labour councillor Cllr John Ritchie, who had prepared to second the motion, added: “The financial crisis that faces Scarborough Hospital hasn’t gone away.

“At the height of the public debate in 2008 there were debts of around £30 million.

“The bill being introduced offers no protection to authorities which get in to financial difficulties.”

Cllr Brian Simpson, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, and Dilys Cluer, of the Green Party, also spoke in favour of the motion.