A HOSPITAL in Wycombe directly owned by residents would be the “dream”, MP Steve Baker says, after presenting a petition on 'fairer funding' to Parliament.

As the Government put forward its radical NHS reforms yesterday, Mr Baker handed over a document with 1,547 signatures.

It called for a better financial settlement for the county and more 'local control and freedom for clinical professionals'.

Currently the county receives 17 per cent less funding than the national average.

Mr Baker, Conservative, said he was “hopeful” changes outlined in the Coalition's Health and Social Care Bill will lead to 'fairer' funding and pledged to campaign for it.

But he warned: “If we get fairer funding I don't think we should necessarily expect the return of trauma or consultant led maternity.

“Now it's gone I think it would be incredibly difficult to achieve.”

Under Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's proposals GPs will be given much greater decision making powers, with primary care trusts being axed.

Mr Baker said this was key.

“I'm optimistic with GPs in the driving seat we will start to see a much happier settlement for health services in Wycombe and that's what I want to deliver,” he said.

Mr Baker, whose constituency includes Marlow Bottom, said the hospital is his top priority.

“It is our hospital, but the reality is the hospital is owned by the NHS, it's managed in the trust, it will go to a foundation in combination with Stoke Mandeville,” he said.

He said he wanted residents to be able to “genuinely say 'that hospital is ours'”.

“I would dream of having some kind of direct ownership of our health services in High Wycombe,” he said.

He said his role was to navigate this way, but ultimately it would be “determined by GPS and local people”.

Mr Lansley said Wycombe residents will get their wish for 'greater local control over NHS services' under his proposals.

He highlighted the creation of a nationwide 'pathfinder GP consortia'.

Wycombe practitioners will be among the first group for the scheme.

Mr Lansley said: “They will take this responsibility from tiers of regional and national NHS management.”

Councils will also play “a much greater role”, he added.

But the reforms have faced strong criticism.

Shadow health secretary John Healey, Labour, claimed the changes would “open up all areas of the NHS to price-cutting competition from private health companies and remove “proper openness, scrutiny and accountability to the public and to Parliament.”

He said: “They are driving free-market political ideology into the heart of the NHS and this is why doctors are now saying that, as it stands, the bill now spells the end of the NHS.”

A recent poll of 1,800 medics showed over half of GPs are concerned the bill will not lead to improved services.