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Winchester Lib Dems lead revolt over NHS bill
Winchester Liberal Democrats helped lead the rebellion against the coalition Government’s proposals to reorganise the NHS.
They played a prominent role in the successful revolt at the Lib Dem conference last weekend that has forced its party leadership to review its stance on the health and social care bill.
There are fears that the bill, which would see GPs handed most of the £80 billion NHS budget, will see a privatisation of the service.
In Winchester the future of the Royal Hampshire County Hospital is causing some worry because of the impending merger of the local healthcare trust with Basingstoke.
Martin Tod, 2010 Winchester parliamentary candidate, worked closely with Baroness Shirley Williams and former MP Dr Evan Harris to get the motion through conference.
Mr Tod said: “Without the kind of changes we put forward to our conference, we will inevitably see money pulled out of local hospitals across the country and NHS hospital services put at risk. It's why we put the motion forward and why we will keep working to get these plans changed.”
Cllr Kelsie Learney, city council leader, said: “We are concerned that the current Government proposals will damage our local NHS services.
“Allowing the private sector to 'cherry-pick' services would lead to the slow decline of services at our hospital in Winchester and its eventual downgrading, something we will resist very strongly,” said Cllr Learney, who faces re-election in May.
Dr Graham Winyard, chairman of Winchester and Chandlers Ford Liberal Democrats and also a former deputy chief medical Officer for England and medical director of the NHS, said: “I have seen at first hand the huge disruption that this sort of re-organisation causes. Imposing massive and flawed reforms on an NHS facing years of level funding is extremely risky.”
The Government argues that radical change is necessary to enable the NHS to handle the increasing demands on the NHS.
The local healthcare trust said there are no plans to withdraw services from the Winchester hospital.