Speech on social care

My speech in the House on social care and the crippling effect Government cuts are having on Kirklees’ ability to look after the most vulnerable in our society.

The Government cannot ignore the elephant in the room. Kirklees spends 35% of its budget on social care, the number of people aged over 65 is growing rapidly, and yet the Government continues to cut funding and blame local councils.

I urge MPs from all parties to increase the pressure on Government to act, and as your representative I will not stop until this austerity driven agenda is recognised for the damage it is causing.

New report shows NHS Trust must think again over the number of beds at HRI

The new report by the health policy think tank, The Kings Fund has highlighted the need for the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust to go back to the drawing board over cutting the number of beds at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

The briefing paper; ‘NHS hospital beds – Past, Present Future’ was released last week. The report finds that the total number of NHS hospital beds in England has more than halved over the past 30 years. This is due to more care for people with mental illness and learning disabilities being provided in the community, and medical advances reducing the amount of time many patients spend in acute hospitals.

Although most advanced nations have also reduced hospital bed numbers in recent years, the briefing shows that the NHS has fewer acute hospital beds per person than almost any other comparable health system.

The report says ‘There are signs of a growing shortage of beds. In 2016/17, overnight general and acute bed occupancy averaged 90.3 per cent, and regularly exceeded 95 per cent in winter, well above the level many consider safe.’ The report goes on to say; ‘In this context, proposals put forward in some sustainability and transformation plans to deliver significant reductions in the number of beds are unrealistic.’

Thelma Walker, MP for the Colne Valley said

“This report clearly identifies that a reduction in beds is not acceptable and shows how the NHS has one of the lowest ratio of beds: patient in the developed world.

“Cutting over 400 beds to under a hundred is not acceptable and this report provides further evidence to demonstrate that the downgrading plans for HRI have not been thoroughly thought out.”

Thelma added

“Whilst medical technology has moved on, and people now need to spend less time in hospital after operations than previously, we still need hospital beds.

“We cannot have another situation this winter where appointments across the country are cancelled because there isn’t a bed for someone to recover in.

“Due to massive cuts to local authorities’ budgets, social services are often unable to support people coming out of hospitals with additional care needs. This results in additional nights in hospitals for people who perhaps don’t need to be there.

“In light of this report, I urge the Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Trust to go back to the drawing board.”

Education Select Committee – Sure Start cuts

This week the Education Select Committee took evidence from the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening. I challenged her over the cuts to Sure Start centres which I know from working as a headteacher were incredibly effective at helping all children to have the best possible start in life.

As seems to be a running theme in this Government when asked about the negative consequences of Tory austerity in our community, the Minister passed the buck, this time on to local councils. My fellow Labour MP Ian Mearns was quick to point out to her that even if councils cut every other front-line service, they are still unable to properly fund Children’s services.

I’m proud to be standing up for the many professionals who know first-hand the reality of the situation in education under this government.

Letter to the Prime Minister

Following my question at PMQs yesterday and the Prime Minister’s failure to answer my invitation to discuss the impact of any downgrading of our hospital, I have sent a letter to get a clear answer.

As head of the Government implementing the Health & Social Care Act 2012 which established the very CCG that is planning to downgrade HRI, she must listen to the people who will be adversely affected by the plans before patients are put at risk.

Question at PMQs about HRI

Today at PMQs I asked the Prime Minister about the proposed downgrading of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary which would lead to 300 beds being cut, nearly 500 job losses and a 90 minute journey to A&E.

Her answer shows clear ignorance of the situation here in Colne Valley and Huddersfield where the Kirklees Local Medical Committee (LMC), which represents more than 200 GPs locally, has described the plans as “irrational” and a threat to patient safety.

The underhanded approach of forcing a minority of clinicians locally to make almost-impossible decisions in response to Government funding cuts are not going to divide our community and we remain united in opposition to these plans.

Thelma Walker MP declares that Labour will deal with Britain’s Tory Debt Crisis

The next Labour government will tackle the persistent debt spiral that many working families in Colne Valley have become trapped in by introducing a cap on interest payments.

Seven years of Tory economic failure has seen the slowest wage growth since Napoleonic times, which has led to a looming debt crisis at every level of our country.

The average amount of credit card debt outstanding for accounts in persistent debt is £3,464 and the total amount outstanding on these accounts is therefore in the region of £14 billion.

Credit card debt is therefore becoming a growing problem and threat to the people of Colne Valley Constituency.

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:  “The last seven years of Tory economic failure has created the perfect storm, as wages have fallen behind, more and more families are being pushed deeper into debt. I am calling upon the Government to act now apply the same rules on payday loans to credit card debt. It means that no-one will ever pay more in interest than their original loan. If the Tories refuse to act, I can announce today that the next Labour government will amend the law.”

Thelma Walker MP said:  “Many people in the Colne Valley Constituency are struggling with unaffordable levels of debt through no fault of their own.

The last seven years of Tory economic failure – including wage stagnation – has meant more and more families are being pushed deeper into debt.

At the same time, some companies are making massive profits from people’s financial difficulties.

The next Labour government will tackle the persistent debt spiral that many working families in the Colne Valley Constituency have become trapped in.”

Lobby against school cuts

Today teachers, headteachers, school support staff, and parents, visited Parliament to lobby MPs and highlight the impact funding cuts are having on schools and children.

In Colne Valley schools are set to lose £4 million: £300 per pupil, the equivalent of 80 teachers. I know from my time in education and talking with local professionals that the system is really struggling.

It was disappointing that the Tories declined the invitation, they have implemented over £2 BILLION of education cuts since 2010 and they just continue to bury their heads in the sand. But we will not be ignored!

‘To Walk in Your Shoes’

I spoke this weekend at St Paul’s in Huddersfield before a performance of ‘To Walk in Your Shoes’: a play based on interviews with asylum seekers, refugees, and people who work with them, performed by Red Bobble Theatre company.

I’m proud that in Huddersfield we have a number of wonderful organisations that support some of the most vulnerable people in the world, who find their way to our community. It makes you value everything we have even more, hearing their plight. A very moving performance.