Today, like never before, our public services are squeezed. It’s clear locally, as Kirklees Council is expected to make a staggering £104 million of budget cuts.
If the Conservative government don’t change course the total cuts per year since 2010 will be £194 million.
Dewsbury Hospital’s A&E has just gone through a significant downgrade and changes to Huddersfield are still on the table.
In circumstances of constant pressure, it’s often staff who feel the brunt of it.
The word ‘crisis’ is used too often, but when it comes to recruitment in the NHS, it’s valid. There are currently 30,000 vacancies in the NHS nationally, and 200 in one of our local NHS trusts alone.
Speaking to our dedicated health professionals, including my sister who’s a nurse, this comes as little surprise.
The pressure facing staff in the NHS is immense, staff are expected to work harder and take on more responsibility than ever before.
Despite all of this, to the Conservatives’ shame, our nurses, midwives and health professionals haven’t had a pay rise in years. In fact, over the last seven years they’ve suffered real-term pay cuts year on year.
Fair pay is essential for staff morale and to stop people leaving the NHS and moving off to other sectors.
In Westminster, my colleagues and I are saying that enough is enough. Our public service heroes deserve a pay rise and we’ll continue to pressure the Conservatives until they get one.
This squeeze is being felt across the community.
Recently I’ve been working with local families who’ve come to me with concerns surrounding autism.
The waiting times for children in our area to be assessed for an Autistic Spectrum Condition are too long. I’ve heard from parents that they’ve waited for six months for a diagnosis, and sadly, that diagnosis was wrong.
Children with autism need treatment and support. If this is delayed or wrongly diagnosed it can add serious strain to the family and can have terrible consequences for the children.
Their ability to learn in school put at risk, difficulty making friends and I’ve even heard of young people attempting to take their own lives.
This is why the work done by organisations such as The Whole Autism Family, a group formed here in Kirklees in 2014 is so important.
It is made up of a group of volunteers who have created a fantastic support network for the entire family on their autism journey.
However, our public services need to play their part too.
Schools, the NHS and councils all have to be involved and able to identify the signs of autism. It’s these three services that the Tories keep taking money from.
The government recently claimed they’d heard the voices of opposition to planned school budget cuts.
So they went away and redid the numbers. Even after this, they still want to take money from all but one school in Batley and Spen. Local parents will rightly be concerned.
It’s time for some new thinking and some pride in public services.