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Bishop Cautioned: CEN 1.11.08 p 4. January 12, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS, Politics.

wallace-benn.jpgThe Bishop of Lewes was cautioned by a bouncer that he would be ejected from the Uckfield Civic Centre if he spoke at a public NHS meeting before Christmas.

Bishop Wallace Benn was one of 50 people in the audience at a meeting called by the NHS to discuss closing maternity services at the Eastbourne District General Hospital

Bishop Benn, who opposes closing the maternity ward, stood to speak at the meeting, but was ignored by the East Sussex Downs and Weald Primary Care Trust chairman Charles Everett.

“I twice asked politely if I could speak to the chairman, who did not look up at me,” Bishop Benn told the Worthing Herald. As he rose to speak, the meeting’s steward stepped in front of Bishop Benn, and ordered him to be seated.

“Never in 35 years of being in ordained ministry have I ever had a bouncer stand in front of me preventing me from speaking,” he said.

In March the NHS announced it would close the maternity wards of the Eastbourne Hospital or that of the Conquest Hospital in Hastings as part of the government’s “Fit for the Future” programme.

It pledged it would hold 15 weeks of consultations, soliciting public opinion and the views of the medical community, before any decision was reached.

However, Bishop Benn said the NHS review process was a “sham” and the “whole process has been pre-determined” by NHS bureaucrats ignorant of local conditions.

Local Conservative MP Charles Hendry was also blocked from speaking. “This has been a completely undemocratic process and to find out at the end that the Bishop of Lewes was threatened by a bouncer because he wanted to say something is appalling,” he said. “What sort of society is that?”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

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