'Publicity seeking' Doncaster Tory MP accused of taking credit for Minister's hospital visit
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Health Minister Lord Markham toured the hospital with the city's three local MPs – Mr Fletcher (Don Valley) and Doncaster Central and Doncaster North’s Dame Rosie Winterton and Ed Miliband, with Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones and South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard also in attendance.
But while Dame Rosie and Mr Coppard acknowledged Mr Fletcher’s attendance in social media posts discussing the visit, the Don Valley Tory MP was accused of hogging the limelight for himself by failing to mention the others and suggesting he was responsible for the tour.
Angry voters launched an attack after Mr Fletcher’s post.
One said: “So YOU were there to welcome him Nick. No mention of Dame Rosie Winterton or Ed Miliband.
“See the difference? Rosie had the grace to mention you in her post.
“You all need to be united and working together for this, not just publicity seeking.”
Another said: “Does Nick say it was him that got the Minister to come? No he doesn’t - God forbid it was a Labour MP that got him here.”
Another posted: “See how Rosie works collegially, including all those working on this incredibly important issue. On the other hand, some people may wish to seek personal publicity and credit.”
When one questioned on Mr Fletcher’s post why other MPs ‘weren’t involved,’ one response said: “Looking at other photos elsewhere, they were. Nick Fletcher MP wouldn’t want to share that though eh?”
Earlier, Dame Rosie had written: “Following my meeting earlier this month with Health Minister Lord Markham it was good to welcome him to the DRI with Ed Miliband and Nick Fletcher MP and for the Minister to hear first hand the problems the DRI is facing and the need for urgent investment in our local hospital so that we can provide the safest and highest quality services.
"We will continue to press for a new hospital but we need this urgent investment. Team Doncaster, including Mayor Ros Jones and Mayor Oliver Coppard are working together with our fantastic local NHS team on this.”
Oliver Coppard also credited the city’s MPs in his post, although he did not name any of them, writing: “This afternoon I met with Lord Markham, the government minister responsible for making decisions about building new hospitals. Alongside Doncaster’s MPs and Mayor Ros Jones, I again asked for him to commit to build a new hospital in Doncaster.”
“If the government are going to take advantage of the site we are currently clearing in Doncaster city centre, with all the benefits and regeneration that would bring, then we now have a six month window for them to make that decision. He accepted that timeframe.
“If we do not get a commitment to a new hospital the government MUST commit to urgently putting in place the money to make sure DRI remains safe and is fit for purpose. Ultimately, they can either spend 100s of millions to fix the existing hospital or £1.3 billion to build a new hospital and regenerate vast swathes of Doncaster.
“The current standstill simply cannot continue.
“DRI and Doncaster urgently needs investment. Without it there is no doubt that patients and the public will suffer worse health outcomes, longer waiting lists and risks that are both avoidable and unacceptable.”
The posts were in contrast to Mr Fletcher who wrote: “The Minister for the New Hospitals Lord Markham came to Doncaster today and I was there to meet him.
“He was shown around the DRI so he could see for himself why we need a new hospital. As I keep saying we don’t just WANT a new hospital, we NEED a new hospital.
“We didn’t make the 40 hospitals announced. Yes it’s a setback but it’s not fatal. The campaign continues apace.
“I brought the Secretary of State for Health to the DRI in January 2020 within weeks of my election. We made a powerful case and it was looking good. Then some two months later the country was hit with the COVID pandemic and spent over £400billion that was not expected or foreseeable.
“Getting that new hospital became all of a sudden so much harder.
“I speak routinely to all Ministers about my campaign. It matters not to me whether they are in the Department of Health or not. With eye watering sums like these, we need to convince the Government at large.
“As with the airport this campaign requires dogged determination and perseverance. I have both. It may be a long road but we will get that new hospital. Doncaster needs a new hospital and whether it takes longer than we hoped we shall get that new hospital.
“Keep the faith. Stay strong. I am on it.”
But those commenting continued to take issue with his post.
One said: “A setback? It was a manifesto promise in the 2019 election. You call lying to the public a “setback?” Really? I call it a lie.”
And another wrote: “You say it’s not fatal. It is fatal to the people that’s suffering. DRI has serious failures in our local healthcare. Rationing of operations and being seen is very bad in our area.”
Mr Fletcher has repeatedly accused local Labour politicians of playing ‘party politics' over the airport and hospital, and earlier this year, accused the Doncaster Free Press of deliberately cropping him out of a photo at an event attended by all the city’s MPs.