HEALTH boss Azhar Ali has slammed the government for introducing a controversial measure which gives the Health Secretary powers to close local hospitals.

Clause 119 in the Care Bill allows a hospital to be closed or downgraded if a neighbouring trust is struggling financially.

The government maintains it is a good way to address local care issues.

But Coun Ali, chairman of Lancashire County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “The government used to say it wanted to put patients and doctors in charge of the local NHS.

“Now Jeremy Hunt wants to ride roughshod over local communities and have carte blanche to break up the NHS without anyone else having a say. He must be stopped.

“This move could hit East Lancashire hard and leave local people voiceless in the face of changes to their services. We need to watch carefully at the impact of these changes to what happens in our hospitals.”