Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital is not at risk of closure, North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham has insisted.
The future of the NHS was a key local and national issue in the election campaign, with Labour politicians in West Norfolk launching a campaign to “save” the QEH.
But Mr Bellingham has backed senior managers to lead the hospital out of special measures and tackle its financial deficit.
He said: “Everyone who has anything to do with the QEH knows that it’s not going to close down.”
“I think the management team are doing a fantastic job, but the QEH can’t stand still and I want the very best for my constituents.”
The future of health services in West Norfolk was put at the top of the political agenda in January when managers revealed the Gayton Road hospital could find itself £30 million in debt within four years without radical reform.
Following that warning, Labour candidates Jo Rust and Peter Smith launched a campaign in which they pledged to fight service cuts and relocations and the future involvement of private companies, as well as pressing for staff pay increases and a living wage.
Mr Bellingham said he recognised there was a “strong argument” within the NHS on issues over pay, staff morale and service change, but claimed the Labour case was presented in “alarmist terms”.
And he maintained that West Norfolk patients should still expect to receive high-class healthcareat the QEH, but admitted it would still be “very difficult” to attract the very best staff in every discipline.
He said: “We’ve got to set our sights realistically and say we’re going to provide the core services, but In some of the specialist services, which are already covered from Norfolk and Norwich or Addenbrookes and Papworth, we’re going to see more top consultants practising in King’s Lynn, but based elsewhere.
“That’s not a backward step. I would say it’s a forward step because it means my constituents get the very, very best medical care.”
Mr Bellingham also paid tribute to his North Norfolk counterpart Norman Lamb for his work on the integration of health and social care and called for further work on the issue.
He also argued that more should be done to improve primary care, particularly in relation to out of hours cover.
He said GPs should be paid more for doing more and said resolving issues with the current out of hours system would help to keep patients out of hospitals who do not need to be there.
He said: “There’s no-one better for sorting out patients at their time of emergency than the doctor.”