Your Letters

Brabin needs to be more than just lobby fodder

Letter of the Week: Garry Kitchin, Batley

Dear Sir,

I am writing to thank the people who voted for me in last week’s by-election.

The final result was much as expected, that is a Labour win with other candidates failing to retain their deposits.

The vast resources that Labour poured into the contest simply swamped all other considerations.

I regret the one-sided nature of the by-election. It was quite clear from the start that the contest was portrayed as Labour unity and hope set against fringe and extreme candidates with an agenda of hate.

While there were some candidates with divisive messages, at least one third of Labour’s nine rivals could not be classified like this fairly.

There was a very little mainstream attempt to correct this misconception.

BBC’s Len Tingle wrote this about the result: “Labour Party campaign managers had set themselves the twin objectives of ensuring a big turnout and that the nine candidates who put their names on the ballot paper from tiny fringe parties or standing as independents should be so badly supported they would lose their deposits.”

This demonstrates that Labour set out with the intention not wanting an open contest where ideas were debated, including refusing a hustings with any candidates.

Instead, they created a campaign of Labour unity vs the hate and division of other candidates, a message the media were more than happy to pick up and run with.

They wanted to steamroll over any campaign messaging that wasn’t their own, and kill the democratic process.

It is sad that our democratic values were reduced to this. For those who believe in an open democratic process, they were short-changed.

In the end most non-Labour voters did not even vote. Tracy’s vote was less than 23 per cent of the electorate of Batley and Spen.

Given Tracy stood on a mandate of unity, asking for the votes of Conservative, Lib Dem, UKIP and Green supporters, I hope that she does not go to Westminster and simply support the Parliamentary Labour Party tribally in the lobbies.

She owes it to those who voted for her under these unusual circumstances to be more than Labour lobby fodder.

To act as an ordinary Labour MP under the circumstances of her election would be to go back on the mandate she was elected on.


Prescriptions clarified

From: Eric Power, head of medicines management, NHS North Kirklees CCG and NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG

Dear Sir,

I am writing to address the concerns outlined in a letter from Mr Wood about changes to repeat prescribing systems published on October 14.

The NHS in Kirklees has identified the need to reduce medicines waste as a key priority.

Many patients have medicines ordered on their behalf by community pharmacies and other suppliers.

Due to increasing workloads, some pharmacies and suppliers do not always have the time to contact patients to check which items they require before placing an order with their GP surgery.

This can result in medicines being requested when they are not required, leading to waste.

We estimate that the cost of this waste is between £600,000 and £1million a year across Kirklees.

We are asking that people who are able to order medicines directly from their GP practice do so by:

• Ordering online via a smartphone app or computer;

• Dropping a repeat prescription request off at their GP practice;

• Posting a repeat prescription request to their GP practice. Pharmacies that collect prescriptions from GP surgeries or deliver medications to patients will continue to provide this service.

The money that is saved by reducing medicines waste will be available to spend on health services and medicines to meet the needs of people in Kirklees.

We are encouraging Kirklees patients to use online GP services to order repeat prescriptions, book and cancel GP appointments.

GP online services are quick and easy, and can be accessed at a time that is convenient to patients.

To register for online services, patients will need to visit their GP practice with photo identification and proof of address.

I hope this helps to clarify what changes being made locally and the reasons why.


Stash, trash and plunder?

From: Jenifer Devlin, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

Secret plans, called Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) are being concocted to deliver cuts of at least £2.5billion to our NHS this year, and £22 billion in the next five years.

A local STP, which will fit into a West Yorkshire STP, exists, but is being kept secret.  I went to the Dewsbury and Mirfield District Committee recently hoping to hear Richard Parry, the Kirklees public health chief, reveal the details, but came away knowing absolutely nothing about what the STP will mean for our local services.

I have asked councillors for details of the STP, but they apparently know nothing.

This is really worrying since our council is going to be asked to sign up to the local and the West Yorkshire STP.

What we do know is that across the country these STPs will introduce drastic cuts in local health services – further reductions in hospital beds, reducing the number of sites at which health services are delivered, downgrading of professional jobs (for example science graduates with two years of clinical experience as ‘assistant GPs’), more responsibility on families to care for their seriously ill family members at home, more digital monitoring of the chronically sick (computer tablets replacing professional visits), closures of A&E, and so on.

No wonder some of us think STP stands for ‘Slash, Trash and Plunder’.

The timetable imposed by NHS England is that a ‘summary’ of STPs should be published by mid-December and STP contracts must be signed by 23 December 2016.

So there will be no time for consultation on the most savage changes and cuts in the lifetime of the NHS.

Supporters of the NHS are urging local authorities all over the country to refuse to sign up to any STP until the proposals have been published and a full consultation undertaken.

Our council should set an example and refuse to sign until we, the public, have been told what they could be committing us to and been given the chance to have our say.


Rabble roused

From: Linda Harrison, Birstall

Dear Sir,

Well, the by-election went as expected but not without Labour throwing everything they had at the campaign.

We had flyers, letters and phone calls begging me and my husband to vote Labour and much more.

I can’t remember the last time we were given so much attention.

Tracy Brabin won with a big majority but let’s get real – 75 per cent of those eligible to vote didn’t bother because they had no mainstream opposition parties to vote for.

I feel it is my duty to vote in every election but I understand the apathy of those who didn’t want to waste their time.

What I can’t believe is the comment made by our new MP on television when she referred to the other candidates as “rabble”!

A derogatory remark if ever there was one. At least one of those who opposed her is now one of her constituents.

Does that mean she now represents “rabble” and that I voted for “rabble”?

Not a good start to your new career Tracy!

And yet again, not once have I heard her say how pleased she is to be representing Birstall.

Batley and Spen are constantly mentioned but take note – Birstall is not Batley! As a local lass you really should know that.


Health questions

From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

The North Kirklees CCG engagement about people’s attitudes to costs in the NHS did not answer these questions.

In the list of costs considered affordable in the reshaped NHS there are: nearly £2 billion a year in PFI rents and maintenance; billions to management consultancies to advise on ‘creative destruction’; other endless restructuring plans, including ‘turnaround managers’ on huge salaries; advertising agencies and logo redesigns as hospitals compete for business, and at least £4 billion in the costs of the ‘market’.

Putting contracts out to tender, buying and selling services and billing and invoicing is an expensive business, great for accountants, lawyers and management consultancies, but very disruptive for services.

Why? Also why is it okay for outsourced NHS services companies to have debts with interest at 20 per cent, paid for by their NHS revenue, but not for publicly-run hospitals to have a deficit, or for CCGs to continue to treat their patients?


Sinking ship

From: Mr TR Moorhouse, Cleckheaton

Dear Sir,

The European Union is on the rocks, yet so-called experts want to remain a member of this crooked, undemocratic organisation.

Countries deeply in debt, such as Greece, Portugal, Spain Italy and even France, are posting massive unemployment figures of between 20% and 50%, blaming this on multi-billion bail-out packages by the German ECB, which is now buying corporate bonds that are close to junk.

The German Deutsche Bank is in such a mess it is also needing a bail-out.

Closer to home, towns like Dewsbury, Batley and Morley are bursting at the seams with lack of housing and transport infrastructure due to over-population, never mind our cities like London, Manchester and Birmingham.

Yet more than half of our MPs especially Lib Dems and Labour, want to stay on this sinking ship!

Are we being ruled by illogical idiots?


Parking idea

From: R Spreadbury, Liversedge 

Dear Sir,

I have an idea for addressing the problems of childhood obesity, parking mayhem around schools and cash-strapped councils. Red line road markings for a 200 metre radius centred on all schools.

Charge parents £52 a year for a pick-up/drop-off permit.

The result?

Kids would have to walk to school (horror), or at least walk 800m a day.

Councils (or schools) would get some money to spend on their vanity projects or the bare necessities.

Spin-off benefits would include residents who live adjacent to schools would be able to access their drives.

Traffic in general will be eased during the twice-daily school run rush hour, saving journey times and reducing air pollution.

It will get parents exercising as well.

Parking chaos would be disseminated throughout the area and not concentrated locally.

A win, win, win.


Bronte trip

From: Imelda Marsden, life member of the Bronte Society and the Kirklees and Calderdale Bronte group

Dear Sir,

I am now back from New York and I enjoyed my invite to the Morgan Library and Museum for the Bronte 200.

It’s a superb museum and the Bronte exhibition had items from the Bronte parsonage museum in Haworth, one being a picture of Roe Head school Mirfield where the three Bronte literary sisters attended in the 1830s (now Holly Bank School).

Until four years ago when I contacted them they did not know about the staircase from Blake Hall in Mirfield being on Long Island.

Anne Bronte depicted in the first part of her novel Agnes Grey her experience of being a governess in Mirfield.

I was invited over to Long Island to view the staircase from Blake Hall I had last viewed when I was seven years old in the 1950s in Mirfield.

The staircase is superb and has stood proudly in the village of Quogue on Long Island since the 1950s.

I was made very welcome and they have asked if we in Mirfield would consider twinning with them – we will be looking into it.

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