Let me say this clearly, the people of Canterbury, Whitstable and the Villages say the Kent & Canterbury Hospital is not for sale.
I have already had many representations from local constituents seriously concerned about rumours that there has been a long-term plan aimed at selling off the very valuable Kent & Canterbury site. This announcement will only confirm the suspicions many already have. Local people are very well aware that the value of the land on which Kent & Canterbury is built is far in excess of anything that could be realised in Margate or Ashford. Local people are also very well aware that large scale housing and property developers often make promises about investing in infrastructure or community facilities which never actually ever seem to see the light of day.
On behalf of all my constituents, I shall be rigorously questioning this sudden proposal. I am concerned that we are seeing here the application of the Tories’ Naylor Report, which basically would transfer public assets at low cost into the hands of private developers. I fought and won the election locally on a clear platform that NHS assets are not for sale. Though the last Tory MP here admitted his complete ignorance of Naylor proposals, we in Labour are wholly opposed to the privatisation of the NHS which has proven to be at the cost of the many, for the sake of a very few.
This is not the way to secure a good hospital in Canterbury with acute services. It is not the way to plan for improving NHS services across East Kent. It represents an admission of the current Government’s failure in investing in the future of our NHS. We do not have problems in our local NHS due to overspending. Far from it, these problems are caused by underfunding. Until we have a Government committed to funding the NHS sustainably, and ending the current scandalous waste of NHS money on endless ‘commissioning’ exercises resulting in fragmentation and hiving services off to profiteers, we will not have the kind of long term future we want for our local hospital and NHS services.
Local people will be angered that this announcement by Tories Simon Cook, Leader of the City Council, and Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, is simply naked party politicking contradicting her statement to the House she wanted “cross party” work to save the hospital. Neither of them had the courtesy of informing the local MP of these proposals. That’s simply not good enough.