MP Steve Baker has defended his stance on Wycombe Hospital after ex-Conservative mayor Darren Hayday accused him of ‘making warm fussy noises and sitting on the fence’.
In a letter to the Bucks Free Press this week, former councillor Mr Hayday complains that politicians and NHS officials have failed to listen to public concern over the loss of specialist services from Wycombe.
He wrote: “Is our local MP [Steve Baker] standing up for us and demanding a return to our lost services such as the maternity and accident and emergency wards? No he is not.
“He is playing the same hand as he did over the stadium fiasco. He makes some warm fussy noises but stays very much with sitting on the fence and not standing up for us.”
But Mr Baker, Tory MP for Wycombe, said: “Some criticisms are unreasonable, and I think it’s unreasonable to say we should be demanding A&E and maternity back.
“Of course I want them back but it would be misleading the public to pretend that we can get them back.
“I’ve stayed away from the approach traditionally taken of running around making as much noise as possible. That would be a disservice to the public... I’m not going to lie to the public.
“Within the bounds of reason we did everything we could to do the best for the public.”
Though Mr Baker wrote in a recent blog post that he, along with other campaigners, had resisted the recent downgrade of Wycombe’s emergency room “to our utmost”, he told the BFP this was written while he was angry about an ‘incendiary’ NHS leaflet which publicised the change (see related links).
He admits that more direct action could have been taken against the downgrade, but only if he had been prepared to "mislead the public about the prospects of success".
He added: “I had to make a decision when the proposals came up and I’ve tried to be honest with the public.
“I know the NHS isn’t going to give them what they want, because not to close the Emergency Medical Centre would have flown in the face of what the health professionals are saying.”
However, Mr Baker does have concerns about the way the consultation process for the recent changes was carried out (see related links).
Last week he joined fellow members of campaign group Save Our Hospital Services as they met a senior NHS official to discuss these concerns.