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Why is health report so secret?

PUBLISHED: 12:42 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 11:30 01 July 2010

THE government has refused to make public a report about the four health authorities affected by a proposed NHS shake-up. The secret survey looks at the options available to return Bexley, Bromley, Woolwich and Lewisham Hospital Trusts to a stable fina

THE government has refused to make public a report about the four health authorities affected by a proposed NHS shake-up.

The secret survey looks at the options available to return Bexley, Bromley, Woolwich and Lewisham Hospital Trusts to a 'stable financial position'.

But, when asked in the House of Commons to put the report in the public domain, a government minister revealed extra measures had been taken to ensure the report remained secret.

Old Bexley and Sidcup MP Derek Conway said last week: "This report contains information that will help us assess what are the real motives behind the plans for Queen Mary's Hospital (QMH).

"Why does it need to be a secret if it backs what the government is seeking? My suspicion is that it does not.

"This closure plan has very little support in the community which believes the hospital is being sacrificed to fund the debts of neighbouring units which are less cost-effective.

"I think they do not want us to see it as we can then form a judgement about QMH costs compared to the other [Trusts].

"Nothing in it can be either personal or commercially sensitive so why hide it?"

Ben Bradshaw, Minister Health Services said: "We are currently applying section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act to the report as the information would be likely to inhibit free and frank provision of advice and the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberations."

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "Consultation on proposals for Outer South East London are ongoing until April 7. No decisions will be made about changes to health services until the full public consultation has taken place and the views of the public and stakeholders have been taken into consideration."

Anthony Sumara, the Chief Executive of Bromley NHS Trust said the report was a 'red herring' and that it contained nothing which would be news to anybody.

Even though he 'vaguely' remembers seeing the report, he said: "There is nothing in there that would shock anyone.

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