The Education Committee took evidence for the inquiry into alternative provision, from Drew Povey, head teacher at Harrop Fold school (Educating Greater Manchester). We spoke about the importance of placing the student at the centre of any decision making.
In questions to the Department of Work and Pensions, I asked if the Minister planned to pay the 7000 women in the Colne Valley Constituency affected by state pension inequality what they are due. His response was no!
A third cheaper to park in council car parks than at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
Thelma Walker raised the issue that patients and staff feel like “Cash Cows” for the Calderdale Huddersfield Foundation Trust (CHFT) in a speech calling for free hospital car parking.
Speaking in a Backbench Business Committee Debate, on hospital car parking charges, Thelma spoke out about the extortionate costs that patients and staff face when parking at a CHFT site.
The debate, which was brought forward by a cross-party group of MPs, aimed to highlight the costs facing those who use hospital car parks. The debate also highlighted the wider issue charges can have on the surrounding area, as some people choose to park in residential areas to avoid the costs.
Thelma raised the fact that it is a third cheaper to park in a Kirklees Council car park, than at a NHS Trust site, saying “Is this not NHS Trusts profiteering from the sick and vulnerable?”. To park in the Market Hall in Huddersfield it is 90p per hour and Huddersfield coach station charges £4 for a full day. To park at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, however, it sets patients and staff back £2.80 for up to a 2-hour stay and over £7 for more than 6 hours.
Whilst CHFT do meet national guidelines by ensuring that certain groups of people are exempt from the charges, many are forced to pay them, including Blue Badge holders and staff.
In the 2017 Labour Manifesto, the party said “Labour will fund free parking in NHS England – for patients, staff and visitors – by increasing the tax on private medical insurance premiums”
Thelma said “At the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, a 2 1/2 hour stay, 3 times a week, 52 weeks a year will cost you £780! How does anyone think it’s right that these hardworking professionals are paying nearly £2000 a year to treat people. I can tell you, it isn’t”
Speaking after the debate, Thelma added “The debate today shows Parliament at its best. MPs working across party-lines, putting constituents first to try and make their lives better. Whilst I understand that the £2.7 million that the Trust received through car parking charges in 2016/17 plugs the gap in the funding from central Government, it is not right that patients and staff are being forced to pay over-the-odds car parking charges.”
In the Urgent Question on Capita on Thursday, I raised the serious financial concerns and whether it was time to bring these companies into public ownership.
When our public services are outsourced to companies such as Capita and Carillion, there is a risk that their failure could cause significant damage to vital services such hospitals and courts, and to people’s pensions and jobs.
In the meeting with the Education Committee and the Health Committee, for the joint inquiry into ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision’, I raised the pressures on CAMHS staff, who are having to turn people away to be able to cope with the demands on services.
On Wednesday, I spoke in an Opposition Day Debate on refugees and human rights. In my speech, I spoke about The Buzz Project in Marsden, which was set up by Dr Ryad Alsous to help local refugees and job seekers to find a place and a purpose in the community.
I used the Education Committee’s accountability hearing with the FE Commissioner to raise the enormous stress that principals are facing in further education (FE), because of financial strains.
I later emphasised how these pressures meant that principals weren’t as able to consider the quality of teaching and learning and the curriculum, as they would be able to with sufficient funding.
I am disappointed that Kirklees Council Cabinet members have not listened to my constituents’ concerns about the proposed changes to school transport. I wrote the following letter to the Council in December highlighting this issue. I want to hear your views, which I will share with the Council. Please email me at Thelma.Walker.MP@Parliament.uk so I can bring all of your feedback together.
In the Education Committee meeting on Tuesday, I asked Rt Hon. Alan Milburn, former chair of the Social Mobility Commission, whether the Government’s policies are negatively affecting the social mobility of younger generations.