Hands off HRI campaign meeting in Parliament

I was delighted to welcome campaigners from Hands Off HRI to Parliament on the 28th February to meet with Jeremy Corbyn MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Health to discuss the downgrading plans for Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

It was great to hear their fantastic passion and determination, and to hear the support from the Labour Party!


Opinion piece for The Yorkshire Post on HRI

I have written for the Yorkshire Post on why we need to save the NHS, and stop the downgrading of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

You can read it below

Since 2014 I have been campaigning alongside residents to prevent the downgrading of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. We have held rallies and marches, ’Honk your horn for HRI’ events, leafletted staff and patients, held vigils, and had meetings with the Clinical Commissioning Group and Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust. I have asked the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care about the closure, inviting them both to meet with me to discuss the issue and to visit the hospital, both have refused!

The downgrading of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary is something that everyone in my local area feels passionately about. HRI is a busy hospital, based in my constituency, which serves the beautiful Colne and Holme Valleys, but also Huddersfield, parts of Dewsbury and a busy section of the M62. It covers 400,000 people.  It is absolutely appalling that the CCG and NHS Trust believe that a town the size of Huddersfield, and the surrounding areas, could and should be left without an Accident and Emergency Unit.

Huddersfield Royal Infirmary is already stretched to capacity. So too, is its sister hospital Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax. Both of these hospitals are run by the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, and at present are working hard to deliver accessible healthcare to people across Kirklees. The proposals put forward would dismantle this service.

If the plans go through, the result will be a reduction of around 300 beds, leaving just 64 for the whole area. Roughly 500 staff will be lost, and some residents could be left with up to a 90-minute drive to the nearest Accident and Emergency. This simply isn’t good enough.

Whilst the Trust will argue that it is about giving the patients the best treatment possible, we know full well that it is about money! It says clearly in their business plan, that their new proposed structure would save them money.

These downgrading proposals are symptomatic of a wider national issue. Theresa May’s Government is starving our public services of the funding they need, driven by a hard-line austerity agenda. Local authorities are being forced to choose between vital services, public sector workers are receiving real-terms pay cuts, and schools are losing teachers. Cuts to social care are placing increasing pressure on our hospitals and emergency services.

In Kirklees, 35% of the council’s budget is spent on adult social care. If funding for these services is reduced, more people will be using hospitals to care for elderly or vulnerable friends or relatives. If these proposals are enacted, there will only be 64 beds to serve those who are ill, in addition to those who require social care.

Labour’s 2017 manifesto said that we “will halt and review the NHS ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’”, which are looking to close hospitals such as HRI across the country, and will consult local people in their redrawing. The focus would be on patient need rather than available finances. The privatisation of NHS services would be reversed, and powers of the Secretary of State for Health to have responsibility for the NHS would be reinstated. Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Jonathan Ashworth MP, said that it is Labour’s commitment that Huddersfield should have the high quality, fully staffed hospital care that patients need, in a statement read at a demonstration in December.

It is important to remember that the NHS, in its 70th year, is a health care system which is respected worldwide, often held up as a beacon of what a comprehensive and free at the point of use health care-system should be like. When it was set up in 1945 by Attlee’s Government, it revolutionised our country. It helped remove divides between the have and have-nots and for the first-time poor children were less likely to die from curable illnesses than those from wealthy households. We cannot let our NHS be dismantled, nor can we let those seeking to profit from the sick and vulnerable, and as long as there are people who will fight for it, the fight will continue.

The future of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary is now with the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, following referral from the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt MP. Residents, local healthcare professionals, my fellow Kirklees MPs and I are pushing for a full review of the business case, and will continue to fight for our hospital.


Firefighters pay- Home Office Questions

In Home Office Questions, I asked the Minister what assessment he has made of trends in funding and pay for firefighters, and raised how unfair it was that these people, who risk their lives on a daily basis, are receiving a real terms pay cut.

Our firefighters, nurses and doctors deserve better from the Government!


Sky Ocean Rescue

I visited Plasticus, the Sky Ocean Rescue whale outside Parliament. Plasticus is made up of a quarter of a ton of plastic, which represents the amount of plastic that enters the world’s oceans every second. I support the campaign to reduce single-use plastics.

Citizens Advice Constituency Dashboard launch

I was delighted to attend the Citizens Advice Constituency Dashboard 2017 launch earlier this week in Parliament. The Dashboard shows the contact that Citizens Advice have had with constituents from the last 12 months.

Citizens Advice work on the front-line to help people with a huge variety of important issues, which means they are well-placed to identify problems residents are facing.

Mount Pleasant School Clock Tower

I have written to the Chief Executive and Leader of Kirklees Council asking them to halt demolition of the Mount Pleasant School Clock Tower in Lockwood, and to extend the consultation period to allow local residents the opportunity to produce a plan to save it.

Colne Valley Business Conference

On Friday, I was delighted to welcome businesses from across the Colne Valley constituency to the first Colne Valley Business Conference.

Thank you to all of our fantastic speakers and delegates for making it such a valuable and positive day. Thank you also to the University of Huddersfield and Barclays for supporting the event.

Rachel Reeves MP with Thelma
Shadow Chancellor Rt. Hon John McDonnell, Thelma and Michael Hartig from Barclays Bank


If you weren’t able to participate, but you would like to offer your feedback on challenges facing businesses, you can complete the following short business survey:https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/ColneValleySMEs/ Your feedback will be very valuable and help my work in support of local businesses. The survey is open to SMEs of all types – private businesses, social enterprises, co-operatives and others – and from all industry sectors

PMQ on Kirklees Council cuts

I asked the Prime Minister what she would recommend Kirklees Council should cut, after having their budget slashed by around £200 million of cuts, and with another £45 million to come?

Care for people with dementia, emptying the bins, libraries, leisure centres and museums, school meals for vulnerable children or helping the 24% of children living in poverty in the Colne Valley constituency.

She couldn’t answer me!