Shadow health chief talks Northampton General Hospital expansion

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham visits Northampton General Hospital with Northampton North candidate Sally Keeble.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham visits Northampton General Hospital with Northampton North candidate Sally Keeble.
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Labour’s shadow health minister has promised to hold a ‘health summit’ in Northampton to discuss expanding the town’s hospital... if his party is elected in May.

Andy Burnham MP made the comments after taking a tour of Northampton General Hospital (NGH) with Labour parliamentary candidate, Sally Keeble yesterday.

In January NGH bosses unveiled what it called “compelling and ambitious” proposals to double the size of NGH and include new facilities for children and babies, an eye surgery hub and an expanded critical care wing.

The town’s health chiefs said they would need to work with MPs in parliament to attain government funding for the plans.

Yesterday, Mr Burnham, the man hoping to become health secretary, said he would be willing to chair those talks after the elections – if Labour win.

He said: Northampton does need new hospital facilities, there is no getting away from that, the staff are working in facilities that are long past their useful life.

“So I made a case some time ago which still stands, about the concept for a health campus and a phased rebuild of the hospital.

“I can’t wave a magic wand today and say it will all be paid for.

“What I can do is make an in-principal commitment for helping the local health economy rebuild its facilities.”

Mr Burnham promised to hold a ‘health summit’ in the town to discuss the expansion proposals with hospital bosses and other health partners around the town.

The shadow minister said Labour has committed to put in an extra £2.5 billion into the NHS over and above Conservative’s spending plans.

He said this would be funded by ‘a mansion tax’ on top earners.

“Some people are criticising us for that,” he said. “Such as Cheryl Cole and Myleen Klass, but a lot of people see the sense in that tax.”

However Northampton North MP Michael Ellis questioned Mr Burnham’s claims that Labour would increase spending based on the party’s track record in Wales.

He said: “The NHS in Wales has seen a cut of eight per cent, let’s not pay too much attention to their political posturing.”

The Liberal Democrats said they would increase spending by £8 billion and UKIP has also agreed to give more to health services.

The Green Party has pledged to ensure the national health service remains entirely in public hands.