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7 January 2014, 15:40
Communities must be given the chance to run hospitals and help push forward the changes the NHS needs to succeed, Parliament has heard.
Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, said many of the 300 community hospitals had been transferred to NHS Property Services Limited, leaving people worried they could close.
And Mr Elphicke said communities should be trusted to own and run the hospitals, with history suggesting they were capable of doing so.
The Tory, supported by MPs from the three main political parties, added the groups could take on responsibility to help the health service cope with the UK's ageing population.
Moving a 10-minute rule motion, Mr Elphicke told the Commons today: "I believe that communities should be able to own their hospitals if they wish to.
"Many will say: 'How can we possibly allow that? How can these people in local communities have the kind responsibility to look after a community hospital? I mean look at them, they've got straw in their hair, they have green wellies and they can barely speak English.'
"My answer to that is really simple - possibly most of these community hospitals were founded by public subscription in local community trusts. As they did it then, so they can do it again.
"I think we can trust our communities to run hospitals properly, to run them competently because history teaches us they did so very well in the past.''
He added: "My case is let communities own their own hospitals again and enable them to take responsibility. Let them feel that the future is something they are part of rather than something that happens to them.
"Give them the shared responsibility in the planning of local healthcare and coping with the ageing population. I believe with ideas, innovation and ownership communities will be able to help drive the changes that the NHS needs to succeed in the future.''
Mr Elphicke said community hospitals have a "real role'' in the future of the NHS.
He told MPs: "They provide cheaper care beds than an acute hospital can provide. They are a good basing for community services. A potential engine for bringing together health and social care in our community.
"They relieve the bed-blocking pressure on acute hospitals that need those beds, that are busy and find beds are often so scarce and they do intermediate care very well indeed - step-up, step-down, end-of-life care, palliative care, those they do so very, very well.
"It is better to have care that is local, more cost-effective and they are very well-positioned to help with an ageing population.''
Mr Elphicke was given the opportunity to prepare and bring in the Bill.
He will be assisted by Tory MPs Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes), Aidan Burley (Cannock Chase), Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire), Robert Walter (North Dorset), Priti Patel (Witham), Christopher Pincher (Tamworth), Dr Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal), Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford), Peter Aldous (Waveney) and Laura Sandys (South Thanet).
Labour's Rosie Cooper (West Lancashire) will also be involved.
Mr Elphicke also said the following Tory MPs have offered their support: Dr Philip Lee (Bracknell); Jonathan Lord (Woking); Steve Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire); George Freeman (Mid Norfolk); Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border); Fiona Bruce (Congleton); Peter Bone (Wellingborough); Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex); Julian Lewis (New Forest East); Charlotte Leslie (Bristol North West); and Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West).
Liberal Democrat Andrew George (St Ives) was also named by Mr Elphicke.