On Friday night, I attended a meeting in Marlow, with people from Marlow Bottom in my constituency, to discuss proposals from Dr Phillip Lee MP for a new Thames Valley super-hospital near Maidenhead. His proposals may be found here: PDF.
Dr Lee’s courageous ideas would be a massive departure from NHS plans. The NHS intends a network of services across the region’s existing hospitals. Dr Lee wants a major new hub near Maidenhead surrounded by community hospitals, including in Wycombe.
It is much too early to make any judgment on a proposal which my Parliamentary colleague has floated as an individual MP, and for which there is no immediate prospect of resources. The attraction of the idea for people in Marlow Bottom and the south of my constituency is obvious. The case is not so clear cut for my constituents in Tylers Green, Hazlemere or Ibstone and of course the people of High Wycombe want the ideal we all share: for such a hospital to be built here in High Wycombe.
If the public across Wycombe back Dr Lee’s proposal and if our local doctors agree that it is the best plan for Wycombe and the Thames Valley, then I will back them. I think this improbable and I believe that incremental development of the hospitals we have is more likely.
Of course, anyone following my work as MP for Wycombe knows I give no one a blank cheque, not even the Prime Minister: the NHS must be accountable to the public who pay for it.
I want the best and fullest range of services in Wycombe as part of the intended network. Dr Lee’s ideas remain a controversial contribution to debate. Coming so soon after the Better Healthcare in Bucks changes, it remains to be seen whether they will be helpful.