MPs have dismissed rumours that the Government forced them to campaign against the party line on hospital changes to cling on to their seats.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt appeared on BBC TV's Politics Show yesterday and angrily denied that the Labour Party had ordered Huddersfield area MPs to attack the changes to local hospital services in order to appear as though they were representing their constituencies.
Ms Hewitt told interviewer John Sopel of a "really, intense debate" over hospital changes in Huddersfield.
She was speaking on the weekend that NHS protest marches also took place in Huntingdon, Southampton, Hereford and Worthing.
Ms Hewitt said hospitals had to change as medical technology was changing. The local hospital of 10 years ago was not the same as it needed to be today.
She added: "In Huddersfield there has been intense debate. Doctors there have made it clear that in order to give safer care to mothers and babies they needed to concentrate maternity services on one site.
"So now there is one instead of two consultant-led units, but also a new midwife-led unit."
She denied MPs had been told to campaign against the changes to save their seats.
"I am unaware of that. I have told MPs to campaign for the best care for their constituents ."
At the general election in May, 2005, Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman had a majority of 8,351 and Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, whose constituency includes Denby Dale and Kirkburton, had a majority of 5,154.
Colne Valley MP Kali Mountford had a majority of just 1,501 votes over Tory Maggie Throup.
All three said the thought of being ordered to campaign against the changes was "rubbish".
Ms Mountford said she had been demanding answers for six years on hospital issues.
She added: "Although we have lost this battle, there are other battles to be won.
"We still will be fighting for the best services."
Ms Creagh said the IRP report, which brought in the changes, dealt with many of her concerns.
Mr Sheerman reacted with laughter at the suggestion of behind-the-scenes orders.
He added: "If I thought the Labour Party was even that efficient, or had that deviousness, I would be amazed."