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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 April, 2005, 06:39 GMT 07:39 UK
Politicians banned from hospital
Hospital ward
Prospective parliamentary candidates are banned
A north London hospital has banned politicians in the run-up to the General Election, the Health Service Journal has reported.

A memo sent to candidates by Barnet and Chase Farm Hospital says it does not want anything to get in the way of fulfilling its duty to patients.

But local candidates say the state of the hospital will continue to be a major feature of the campaign.

The hospital has been zero-starred in three out of last four years.

"Any activity which has the potential to disrupt the ability of the trust to fulfil its duty will be avoided," the memo reads.

Important issue

"Visits to the trust by any candidates, politicians or political parties as part of the general election campaign will not be permitted."

But Liberal Democrat candidate for Chipping Barnet Sean Hooker said: 'If they think this is going to be a way to deflect the criticism of political parties from them they have got another think coming."

Conservative candidate for the seat, Theresa Villiers said: "Health - and Barnet Hospital - is going to be a big issue locally for me as it is for candidates across the country.

"The fact that they don't want campaigning events across their premises won't stop it being an issue."

And Labour's candidate Pauline Coakley-Webb said: "You don't have to be in hospital grounds to debate the issues.

"All they are saying is it is not apt to bring politics onto the wards. If you are feeling really ill the last thing you want is a politician coming to play politics at the bed side."

But Nick Samuels, from the hospital, told BBC News: "We are obviously an important issue in local politics and I have no doubt the issues the hospital faces and the problems the hospital has had will be widely debated regardless of whether politicians are on the site or not."



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