Trafford Council not to contest downgrading of services at Trafford General following legal advice (From Messenger Newspapers)
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Trafford Council not to contest downgrading of services at Trafford General following legal advice
TRAFFORD Council has decided not to challenge the Government’s decision to downgrade services at Trafford General Hospital after seeking legal advice.
In July, health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, confirmed in Parliament that changes to the hospital’s A&E department would go ahead – to the disappointment of almost all Trafford councillors, who called an extraordinary council meeting with the view to seeking a judicial review.
However, at a full council meeting on September 18, the ruling Conservative group announced that the council will accept Mr Hunt’s decision, following expert advice from a leading QC in the field.
A council spokesman said: “This advice was that there were no grounds on which Trafford could challenge the matter given the soundness of the way in which the Secretary of State has approached this decision.
“In the light of that advice, the council is likely to face serious financial and resource implications if it were to pursue any challenge and with very little or no prospect of success.
“Clearly the council is disappointed with the Secretary of State's decision, but given the clear advice that has been received the council’s legal, finance and scrutiny officers would not be able to support any recommendation to take further action.”
Labour councillor, Joanne Harding, who is campaign co-ordinator for the Save Trafford General campaign, said the group is ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the council’s decision.
Cllr Harding said six safety pre-conditions were put in place by NHS Greater Manchester which need to be satisfied before changes are implemented, but the Save Trafford General Group has had ‘no evidence to inform us at what stage these conditions are at’.
She added: “We intend to hold the people making these decisions to account. These conditions were put in place for a reason and as a campaign we will not stand aside and see them blatantly ignored.
“We will continue to challenge, scrutinise and fight to ensure that the public of Trafford have access to good, local healthcare.”
Cllr Sean Anstee, deputy Leader of Trafford Council, said: "Local Conservatives have steadfastly supported the community in its desire to retain vital services at Trafford General and deeply regret that a legal challenge is not possible.
"The Labour party will seek to play politics with this outcome, despite the fact they themselves were complicit in making the hospital unviable when in Government.
"This is not in the interests of residents and therefore we continue to be on your side and are committed to ensuring the best possible outcome these changes mean for our community."
David Acton, leader of the of Trafford Labour Group, said: "It's outrageous that Hunt's decision to allow the reconfiguration can't be challenged by the council yet we have to accept that advice, but the fight goes on.
"And it's not just Jeremy Hunt who is in the spotlight. Trafford's Conservatives have taken political expediency to new levels on this, but the focus is on them now.
“Will they voice the total contempt for Jeremy Hunt from the platform at next week's Tory Conference? Will they march with us on the 29th September?
"Unless I see a full-blooded attack on Hunt from Trafford's Tories, I will take no satisfaction in having got Wednesday's agreement through council.
"I suspect they will be clapping and applauding Hunt as he take's pride in his destruction of the NHS. Trafford will never forgive them."
"Meanwhile we will have to take scrutiny of the plans for changes seriously.
"I am yet to see any of the pre-conditions in place and I am determined to stand firm against any changes to services at Trafford General until they are.”
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