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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 November 2006, 14:05 GMT
MP questions council's NHS plans
An MP has questioned a proposal that could see a local council helping a hospital with its debts.

Shropshire MP Mark Pritchard spoke about an idea from Telford and Wrekin Borough Council that it could borrow money on behalf of the NHS.

The Tory MP said in the Commons that council tax payers should not have to pay twice for acute hospital services.

A spokeswoman from the borough council said the idea was at a very early stage and would not affect council tax bills.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, which runs the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, has recently set out proposals to help tackle the debts.

For the wellbeing of local people we believe children's services should stay local
Council spokeswoman

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Pritchard asked the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt if the proposal was fair to council tax payers.

Mr Pritchard said: "Can she tell the house whether the borough council saying it is going to help with that debt will mean a sharp rise in council tax for the people of Telford and Wrekin and indeed in Shropshire?

"Is it not time the government recognised people have paid the taxes from their national taxation and they deserve the services and don't expect to be given another tax bill on their council tax hike next year?"

Ms Hewitt said the council's plan was "constructive".

'Early days'

The trust has set out cost-cutting plans that could see overnight paediatric services cut back in Telford, saving 500,000.

A borough council spokeswoman said: "We are looking at a number of options which may help keep services in Telford and Wrekin.

"For the wellbeing of local people we believe children's services should stay local."

She said one option could be for the council to borrow money on behalf of the trust but the trust would have to make the repayments.

"It is early, early days," she added.

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