‘We’re wrecking the NHS? No Ed: your government destroyed our hospitals!’ says Hemel MP

Ed Miliband vs Mike Penning
Ed Miliband vs Mike Penning

Hemel Hempstead’s MP has branded Ed Miliband a hypocrite after the Labour leader accused the Tories of wrecking the NHS during a party political broadcast from Watford General Hospital.

Mike Penning campaigned vociferously to save Hemel Hempstead Hospital’s A&E unit before it was closed by the last Labour government – which Mr Miliband was a part of.

Mr Miliband’s party political broadcast – shown on Wednesday – was made while he shadowed staff during two eight hour shifts at Watford General

Mr Penning said: “Someone must have briefed him very badly. It was an insult to my constituents. Most of my constituents would treat him with the contempt he deserves, I reckon.”

Hemel Hempstead Hospital lost its A&E unit, children’s and maternity services, stroke unit and a host of other services after the 2009 shake-up while Labour was in power.

Mr Penning said: “Either the leader of the Labour party has got selective memory loss, or he’s a complete hypocrite. It was the Labour party that created this muddle, when they closed Hemel.

“All of the issues that are being highlighted at Watford were predicted when they did this.

“I find it unbelievable that he thinks people will forget this just five years after they did it. When Labour were in government, they allowed Hemel to be destroyed.”

Mr Penning said lead thieves and people stealing copper piping and wiring stripped the site after it was closed, because not enough security was hired to guard it.

The Tory MP said that on top of vandalism would make it very hard to ever restore Hemel Hempstead Hospital to its former glory.

Mr Miliband said there was ‘deep anxiety’ among staff at Watford General during his party political broadcast.

But Mr Penning said: “That anxiety has been there since the day they announced after a sham consultation that they were going to close Hemel and move it into the Watford site.”

He also accused Mr Miliband of tricking the managers of Watford General into allowing him to use their hospital for party political purposes, sparking complaints from its staff.

Mr Penning said: “I visit West Herts regularly, but have never taken a camera crew and film crew. You go there to learn from the staff and for them to have a feeling of security.”

He said the Labour government was warned years ago that Watford General would face all of the problems it is now if the Hemel Hempstead Hospital closures went ahead.

He said the closures was implemented for a ‘political reason’.

He said: “The only two acute hospitals that were left in Herts before the last election were in Watford and Stevenage.

“The only two Labour MPs left in Herts before the last election were in Watford and Stevenage.

“I will leave your readers to make their own minds up about whether or not that’s just a coincidence.”