ALL four south Bucks MPs last night backed controversial health reform plans that opponents say will make it easier to close hospitals.

A debate in the House of Commons yesterday called for Clause 119 in the Care Bill - which would give the health secretary new powers to close or downgrade a hospital - to be removed from the legislation.

But a majority of MPs agreed to keep the wording as it was, with members voting 297 to 239 in favour of retaining the clause.

Among those to vote in favour of Clause 119 were south Bucks MPs Steve Baker, Dominic Grieve, Cheryl Gillan and David Lidington.

Labour's shadow health secretary Andy Burnham had said the bill would create "an entirely new route for hospital reconfiguration - top-down, finance-led".

But during yesterday's Parliamentary debate Wycombe MP Mr Baker said to Mr Burnham: "Wycombe lost its A and E under his Government. Does he seriously suggest that that change was not imposed on the people of Wycombe, or that they were listened to, engaged and approved of the change?"

Critics say the new clause would allow hospitals to be closed or downgraded within 40 days of an administrator making the decision, without any consultation of residents taking place.