HEREFORD MP Jesse Norman has called for an immediate halt to plans to put the county’s hospitals under the control of an NHS trust 70 miles away.

He claims undisclosed moves are underway to put the County Hospital and the Wye Valley Trust under control of South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT) in Warwick.

Mr Norman’s claims came after the Trust’s chair Museji Takolia stepped down this month for “personal and professional reasons”.

The Trust said the current deputy chairman, Mark Waller, is acting as chairman until NHS Improvement appoints Museji’s successor.

The Trust was put in special measures two years ago but is expected to come out when the Care Quality Commission report on progress next week.

Mr Norman believes the trust’s board may be asked to approve a formal tie-up with South Warwickshire, which had been partnered with Wye Valley in January to support it out of special measures.

“I am very concerned and am calling for an immediate halt and a full and open discussion,” he said.

“The proposed link appears to amount to nothing less than a takeover of our hospital, at a time when its chair has just left.

“There has apparently been no warning and no consultation with staff, patients’ groups or the general public, and no consideration of other options.

“We have absolutely no idea what these plans are, how they would work, who would be affected by them, what commitments the South Warwickshire Foundation Trust would make to the hospital, and above all, what the impact would be on patients.”

In response, the Wye Valley NHS Trust said SWFT is the ‘buddy’ organisation of Wye Valley NHS Trust and is supporting the Trust while it is in special measures.

“The two organisations have worked closely together since September 2015 and continue to explore ways of working more closely,” the statement added.