Wednesday, 24 September 2008

'No-show Gisela Stuart urged to quit hospital committee'

A recent Birmingham Mail story revealed that Gisela Stuart, Labour MP for Edgbaston (location of Birmingham's blood centre), and also stakeholder governor of Birmingham University Hospital Trust, failed to turn up to any of the Trust governor meetings that were held in the last 12 months.

Gisela Stuart, where are you?

NBS workers at the Birmingham centre were extremely unsurprised to hear about this. Some members of staff contacted her immediately when the job losses in her constituency were announced in late 2006. Yet rather than properly interrogating the NBS reconfiguration plans as other, more responsible, MPs and councillors chose to do, she was heard on live local radio saying that in an emergency blood would 'just be rushed up in a helicopter'. Staff were amused and intrigued at this mention of the mystery helicopter which hadn't appeared in any strategy budgets, or in fact anywhere outside of Gisela Stuart's head...

So from the outset Gisela Stuart MP seemed to have aligned herself in favour of the closure of a major health facility and workplace in her constituency.

Later, after the reprieve of Birmingham's red cell crossmatching lab was announced, a story appeared in the local paper unhelpfully trumpeting that Gisela Stuart had been heavily involved in securing this victory. This was false on two counts - not only had she played next to no role whatsoever in events, but the 'victory' was a small one and the area was still set to suffer greatly from the proposed closure of the blood processing department.

Many letters have turned up in the local press expressing worry about the Birmingham blood centre being decimated, at the same time as a gigantic new multimillion-pound superhospital is being build right next door, looming over it in fact. Surely a hospital this massive and shiny (set to replace the current University Hospital) needs to have a fully functioning, top class, blood centre on its doorstep - not just a big chiller?

Well, now we know the reason that Gisela Stuart doesn't seem to be concerned about this situation. Because she is not concerned with Birmingham University Hospital at all. Here we see yet another case of an MP pointlessly holding a seat, like some kind of badge of honour, on a decision-making body that they don't care anough about to take part in. That place would be better off given to a long term patient or service user who depends on the hospital for their wellbeing.

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