Fighting on all fronts to retain our local services

Fighting on all fronts to retain our local services

Last year, Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt was named by a YouGov poll as the most disliked frontline politician of any party. 

After spending years systematically underfunding and dismantling the NHS, the result came as no surprise.

What did surprise me however, is Mr Hunt’s recent decision to take on one of the world’s brightest minds. 

Responding on Twitter to a speech made by Professor Hawking in which he set out his concerns about the private sector’s involvement in the NHS, Jeremy Hunt accused Hawking of ‘most pernicious falsehood’.

You’d think the Health Secretary would quit whilst he was (really far) behind, but he just keeps digging.

Of course, Professor Hawking is absolutely correct to raise concern about profit being made from our NHS. 

As I write this column, I have received a response to a question I put to Mr Hunt, admitting that locum spend has risen each year from 2013/14 to 2015/16, and that the Health Service has spent £2.935 billion on locum staff already this year. 

Clearly, Government are failing to address the recruitment and retention crisis that they caused. Yet for all of their recent talk of a public sector pay rise, our vital NHS workers are yet to see one materialise. I sincerely hope it will.

I am particularly concerned by the recent finalisation of the downgrade of the A&E Department at Dewsbury and District Hospital. 

The most unwell patients in Kirklees will now have to travel further in their time of need, and I cannot accept that. 

It undermines the principle of a truly National Health Service. 

That’s why I have invited Jeremy Hunt to visit Dewsbury and District Hospital, so that he can see for himself the absolute necessity of reinstating a fully functioning A&E in Batley & Spen.

Another area in which Government are letting local people down, is child poverty. 

During a recent meeting with Action for Children, I learnt that just 63.1 per cent of children in Batley & Spen reached a good level of development in 2015/16. 

That’s 6.2 per cent below the English national average, and has actually fallen since the previous year.

Levels of good child development in Batley & Spen ought to be improving. 

However, under a Government that has cut Sure Start Centres, slashed school budgets and overseen a disastrous implementation of the 30-hour childcare policy, I am disappointed but not surprised by this news. As the local MP, and as the Shadow Early Years Minister, I will continue to work tirelessly on this in Parliament.

In more positive news, I’m delighted to be supporting Kirkwood Hospice, who are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, as my charity of the month for September. 

I’m also looking forward to Batley Festival, which will take place this coming weekend. Highlights will include a performance on an open top bus. Amazing! Check out batleyfestival.co.uk and I’ll see you there.

 Tracy

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