Minister told to apologise to Wrexham hospital campaigners

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

COMMUNITY leaders are demanding an apology from a senior government minister after she blasted opponents of the proposed shake-up of children’s services in hospitals across North Wales.

Political heavyweights, including shadow health minister Andrew RT Davies AM and Flintshire County Councillor Matt Wright, are furious that health minister
Edwina Hart hit out at campaigners calling for the maternity ward and special care baby unit at Wrexham Maelor to be retained.

During a visit to Flint last week Mrs Hart said she was “fed-up” with people causing mischief and issued a warning to campaigners to stop worrying people.

She said no decisions had yet been taken and it was too early to be “causing unnecessary worry”.

Now Mr Davies is demanding she apologise.

He said: “I am horrified that a senior minister could treat hospital campaigners with such contempt.

“In communities across North Wales, families are fighting to protect their local health services, which are currently under threat from cuts the Labour-Plaid Assembly Government has made to its health budget.

“These remarks are a gross insult to the people of North Wales who are rightly defending their entitlement to local NHS services.

“The minister should be engaging positively with communities to listen to their views on the future of health services rather than resorting to crude insults to people who are standing up for their local services.

“The minister owes an apology.”

Cllr Wright added: “I’m incensed about Edwina’s comments. Not only did she insult campaigners she failed to recognise it was previous half truths that have made local people so keen to campaign.

“She refers to the fact that she would send her kids all the way to Great Ormond Street if necessary but the action of WAG is limiting access to English hospitals by residents living in the Welsh border areas.”

Mrs Hart’s outburst has already outraged mothers who launched a campaign to fight the possible closure.

Earlier this week campaigner Ruth Drake, who’s daughter Elin has severe cerebral palsy and needs regular care at the Maelor, was reduced to tears over the comments.

In an emotional email to Mrs Hart she described how vital the service is to her disabled daughter.

A spokesman for Mrs Hart’s office said they would not be commenting on the comments of Cllr Wright or Mr Davies, but confirmed contact was being made with Ms Drake over her views.

See full story in the Leader

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