One step closer to A&E at St Cross? Health secretary Sajid Javid to visit hospital after issue raised in Parliament

Health secretary Sajid Jarvid is set to visit St Cross following a debate in Parliament in which Rugby MP Mark Pawsey laid bare the growing calls for a return of A&E to the town.

Mark Pawsey outside St Cross.
Mark Pawsey outside St Cross.

Mr Pawsey secured a Parliamentary debate to argue the case for a return on A&E to Rugby and last week he made the case in the House of Commons before health minister Edward Argar.

In the debate, Mr Pawsey spoke about the history of the Hospital of St Cross and the decision to downgrade the A&E provision to an Urgent Treatment Centre in 1997, which bitterly disappointed the local population.

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At the time of this decision, Rugby’s population was viewed by the Royal College of Surgeons as not sufficient to support the specialist clinicians required to operate an A&E department.

But Mr Pawsey contended that since this decision was made, Rugby’s population has grown massively – and by 2031 under Rugby’s present local plan the population is estimated to be 130,000.

Mr Pawsey said that these demographic changes dramatically alter the case for enhanced provision at St Cross to provide Rugby residents with easier access to emergency healthcare and to reduce the pressure on the existing capacity at University Hospital in Coventry, which now serves a population of nearly 600,000 – almost double the national average.

Much of Mr Pawsey’s argument rested on the fact that 83 per cent of Rugbeians would now have to drive for more than 15 minutes to get to A&E – and the situation is worst for those who rely on public transport or taxis.

Responding for the Government, health minister Edward Argar said any decision to reinstate the town’s A&E would ultimately be up to the NHS trust, though he explained that health secretary Sajid Jarvid would be visiting the hospital to speak with Mr Pawsey.

He also spoke of £15m investment to expand the A&E in Coventry – though it is not clear how this would address the long travel time Rugbeians face to get to Coventry while experiencing potentially life-threatening medical problems.

After the debate, Mr Pawsey said he looked forward to meeting with Sajid Jarvid to explain the case for expanding services at St Cross.