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War of words over A&E night closures

PUBLISHED: 11:29 27 August 2009 | UPDATED: 17:05 25 August 2010

POLITICAL parties have locked horns over the premature closure of an A&E department despite them not publishing their full health policies yet.

POLITICAL parties have locked horns over the premature closure of an A&E department despite them not publishing their full health policies yet.

Bosses at South London Healthcare NHS Trust (SLH) have blamed the lack of doctors for their decision to temporary close the A&E at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS) to blue-light emergency cases from Wednesday, September 9 between 8pm and 8am.

This means that night emergencies will be diverted to Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Woolwich and Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough more than a year before planned.

A spokesperson for health in the Conservative Central Office said: "Labour have over the years reduced staff numbers. If we win the election we will have a review of all planned closures to see if they are necessary. The Labour government's approach is to cut small hospitals and move towards much more towards central bigger hospitals."

The Tory spokesman was keen to point out the party wanted an NHS opt out for the EU Working Time Directive (EUWTD), which came into play on August 1 this year. The new rule means junior doctors' hours were reduced to a maximum of 48 hours a week, less than the NHS was used to.

But if the Tories got into power next year it would be too late to have an NHS opt out. To repeal or change it would require a new EU law, again adopted by a qualified majority in the Council of Europe and the European Parliament

Labour parliamentary candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup Howard Dawber claimed the Tories would not try and appeal the law if they came into power.

He said: "The EUWTD is to protect people and let's be clear - it is so people can't be forced to work longer hours.

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