ONE of the Prime Minister's new ministerial appointments may be good news for Hillingdon.

Lord Ara Darzi is a new minister at the Department of Health. He is a distinguished doctor first and a politician second.

His name is also on a controversial report that recommends a new strategy for London healthcare. In a nutshell, he wants fewer large district general hospitals and more primary care clinics in the community. Most significantly for us, he is also a believer in specialist hospitals.

The new Minister faces a tough ride. The NHS is tired of reform, a profligate government is short of money and local communities do not like cuts.

However his strategy may just be the salvation of our two much-loved local hospitals, Mount Vernon and Harefield. It could also pave the way for the Northwood and Pinner Cottage Hospital to be replaced with a modern primary healthcare centre to serve all the community.

All three hospitals are now at a critical stage in determining their future. 52,000 people have signed up to my cross-party campaign to keep cancer services at Mount Vernon.

All three Hillingdon MPs continue to work with Heart of Harefield as that hospital battles for the freedom to invest in its future. Hillingdon PCT is considering the future of the Northwood and Pinner site.

At a time when the Government has made it clear that it intends to build houses on surplus NHS land we must win the argument that Hillingdon needs good local health services more than it needs another swath of expensive flats.

Yes, Minister?

Nick Hurd is the Conservative MP for Ruislip/Northwood.