NORTH Dorset MP Bob Walter has welcomed a parliamentary bill that he hopes will strengthen the future of community hospitals in his patch.

The Community Hospitals Bill was presented and supported on Tuesday by a cross-party group of MPs – including Mr Walter – who want to see England’s 300-plus community hospitals continue to play a key role in healthcare.

Mr Walter was asked to sponsor the bill by lead MP Charlie Elphicke as a result of his support for hospitals at Blandford and Shaftesbury in previous parliamentary debates.

The aim of the Bill is to promote the community ownership of hospitals currently owned by the NHS and to bring such facilities closer to their host communities.

Mr Walter said: “Many MPs from all parties recognise the current and future value of community hospitals and their potential to bringing care closer to home – something this Government has long promoted.

“Many community hospitals were founded by public subscription in local community trusts and I agree with Charlie Elphicke that our communities should be given the option to run them properly and competently again, as they did so well in the past.

“This would present opportunities for greater local input and reassure local communities as to the future of these much-loved hospitals.”