Here are two quotes from last week’s Advertiser concerning Salford MP Hazel Blears:
“Ms Blears insists the panel’s decision is good news for the city”
“She said: ‘I don’t think that’s a bad result'”
Sounds good – so what is the good news Hazel? Is Salford getting some new sports facilities? Is a major employer planning to create hundreds of new jobs? Is the community getting some new powers?
No. What hopeless Hazel is referring to is the decision to close Hope Hospital’s maternity and neo-natal units. How this becomes “good news” and “not a bad result”, I really don’t know.
Of course, Hazel doesn’t have a seat to contest at the moment for the next General Election. She has to face an upcoming contest with Eccles MP Ian Stewart for the Labour nomination for the new Salford & Eccles constituency. Stewart has now waded in with his own comments on the situation. Has Hazel Blears managed to talk herself out of her job?
Two weeks ago, Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced that the Labour Government would be supporting the recommendations of the laughably-named “Making It Better” review of maternity services. This means that the excellent and highly-valued maternity and neo-natal units at Hope Hospital will close.
This is an appalling decision which defies belief, and I hope there is still an opportunity to reverse it. The hard-working staff in the maternity and neo-natal units, and the mothers, mothers-to-be and children of Salford all deserve far better than this. I am sure that a future Conservative Government will look again at the unjustifiable closure of essential maternity services.
Of course, if the “Making It Better” decision was abhorrent, the way in which it was announced was no better. I’ve heard and read a lot of utter rubbish about Gordon Brown’s “new approach to politics”, but the decision to close Hope’s maternity unit shows that the same old Labour spin machine is still very much alive.
The Health Secretary slipped the decision out of the back door on the Friday afternoon before the August Bank Holiday weekend, when half the country are on holiday, press readership is even lower than usual and most of the media have already packed up for a long weekend. Short of issuing a press release on Christmas Day, Labour couldn’t have done a better job of ensuring that as few people as possible heard the news.
A “new kind of politics”? Don’t make me laugh. The tens of thousands of people who rely on Hope Hospital certainly aren’t amused.
Another good day to bury bad news? You bet.