A controversial law which could see hospitals shut down with minimal public consultation in order to save failing hospitals nearby has been voted through by MPs.
Clause 119 of the Government’s Care Bill, the Hospital Closure Clause, would allow a hospital to be closed or downgraded if another trust in the area is failing financially.
In the House of Commons yesterday, 297 MPs voted in favour of Clause 119, while 239 voted against it.
The Care Bill will now go the House of Lords. If the upper chamber approves it in its final form, the law will progress towards getting royal assent.
Members of GMB, the trade union for NHS staff, protested outside Parliament while the clause was being debated.
This clause states that a "trust special administrator" taking action in relation to a hospital trust in financial difficulties would be able to take action "in relation to another NHS trust, which is necessary for and consequential on action taken in relation to that NHS trust".
Epsom health campaigner Jane Race said: "Clause 119 has the ability to cause serious damage to the NHS and our communities.
"It gives unchecked powers for managers to expedite hospital closures.
"Decisions about the future of NHS services should not be finance-led, but driven by clinical performance and patient safety.
"Even the highest performing, financially healthy hospitals can be closed by administrators if a neighbouring trust is failing.
"I cannot see how that can be considered progress. I hope that the House of Lords do not allow this clause to put our local hospitals in jeopardy."
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