When our clocks go back this weekend, we might be glad of the extra hour in bed, but as the days get shorter and the weather cools, our NHS staff are bracing themselves for another winter that is likely to prove even more difficult than the last.
I continue to raise my concerns about the impact of funding and staffing shortages on our local NHS services.
Amongst the latest in downgrades to Dewsbury Hospital, I’ve been calling on Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust to reconsider their closure of the Ambulatory Emergency Care service until further notice.
I’m greatly concerned that yet again we are seeing staffing shortages negatively impacting the services being offered at Dewsbury District Hospital. Patients needing to access the service – which includes same day access to diagnostic tests, consultants and specialist staff, will be transferred to Pinderfields Hospital.
Whilst the national staffing crisis is well documented, care that is local and accessible to patients is key.
I have raised my concerns over the erosion of local services with Trust bosses and will continue to press the government to provide the budgets needed to successfully recruit and retain staff.
Last year we saw our NHS face the worst winter crisis on record, with local patients telling of sleeping on the floor, on trollies and enduring unacceptably long waits for treatment.
A year on, local patients will be asking why the government have failed to recruit the doctors we need.
In Parliament I’ve been calling for action to tackle the growing crisis in mental health.
On World Mental Health Day, the Health Secretary was shamefully forced to acknowledge National Audit Office findings that two thirds of young people will still be denied the treatment they need even if his government’s proposals are delivered as planned.
In my role as Shadow Minister for Mental Health, I’ve spoken in debates on both eating disorders and mental health at work over the last couple of weeks.
Although these issues might seem dissimilar, there is a unifying theme. While the government ‘talk a big talk’ when it comes to tackling mental health, little has actually been done.
I am passionate that we see mental health be given the same priority as physical health services, but we can only do this through proper funding – ring-fencing mental health budgets, and investing in early years prevention for children and young people.
Another campaign I’ve been glad to get behind, is Breast Cancer Awareness. As part of Breast Cancer Awareness month I was glad to get involved in ‘Wear It Pink’ and to add my support to this very important cause.
Breast cancer is still the most common form of cancer in the UK.
Each year, around 11,500 women and 80 men lose their lives to the disease. It’s essential that we raise awareness of the importance of attending screening, and that research receives the funding needed to help reach a day where nobody dies from breast cancer.
I was especially proud to highlight the inspirational courage of a local group – Mirfield’s Half Monty Ladies – in Parliament.
The performers, mostly affected by cancer personally, through family, friends or by having cancer themselves, ‘dared to bare’, raising over £10,000 for local cancer charities.
So I was glad to invite the Leader of the House to join me in congratulating these fabulous women, who are now planning their ‘Christmas Spectacular’. You can find out how you can support them by searching on Facebook for Mirfield Half Monty.
As always, if I can be of any assistance to readers, their friends or families in any way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call my office on 01924 565450, email or write to The Old Dewsbury Reporter Building, 17 Wellington Road, Dewsbury, WF13 1HQ.