MP set to discuss Maldon hospital's future with ministers

John Whittingdale
John Whittingdale says he aims to discuss the planned closure of St Peter's Hospital with ministers

A Conservative MP has said he aims to discuss the planned closure of a community hospital with ministers.

Sir John Whittingdale said services provided by St Peter's Hospital in Maldon, Essex, should stay local.

The NHS Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board has launched a consultation which is due to run until 21 March.

Sir John told the BBC he would keep talking to the NHS and seek to raise the issue with ministers.

Sir John, Maldon's MP, said he had seen the strength of local feeling about the closure plan at a meeting attended by around 400 people in Maldon on Friday.

St Peter's is home to a midwife-led birthing unit, 16 stroke rehabilitation beds and outpatient services.

NHS bosses have proposed permanently shutting the hospital and relocating beds elsewhere in Essex.

Sir John urged people to respond to the consultation and arranged the public meeting, at the Plume Academy, on Friday.

"We must have had over 400 people in the room and had to turn another 100 away because there wasn't enough capacity," he said.

"That's an indication of the strength of feeling. There were a lot of strong views expressed."

He said NHS officials had put their case forward at the meeting.

"I think a lot people recognise that St Peter's is a 150-year-old Victorian workhouse," he said. "But the services provided there should continue to be provided locally.

"I will continue to talk to the NHS and I will seek to raise the matter with ministers."

People had aired their concerns with the BBC before the start of Friday's meeting.

"The hospital has been here for a long time and for people in this area, it's their nearest hospital," said Linda Beveridge.

"It's a pity money wasn't spent money on it years ago to stop it getting into the state it is now."

Daniel Baker added: "St Peter's has been a very big part of this town. I've got a hearing aid and glasses and I've always gone to St Peter's for them."

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