Tom Blenkinsop “furious” after local NHS make decision to close the Park End GP Clinic

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (10th July 2014) said he was “furious” at the “short sighted decision by local managers of NHS England to close the Park End GP surgery and clinic in South Middlesbrough.

Tom said:

“In my constituency, the closure follows other closure decisions and proposals affecting surgeries in Skelton and minor injuries units at Guisborough and East Cleveland hospitals. It is all part of a slash and burn pattern which puts balance sheets and so-called savings ahead of patient wishes and health.”

“Despite the consultation exercise seeking views on the Park End Clinic showing staggering levels of local support – with 95% of respondents saying they were “satisfied or completely satisfied” with the service provided by the clinic, that they were totally happy with the quality of treatment from GP’s and nurses and with 73% disagreeing totally with any closure proposal, citing the need or a local centre for an area with a higher than average number of elderly people, local NHS bureaucrats have merely rubber stamped their original proposal, something that leads me to conclude that the consultation was a sham exercise, with only one outcome envisaged.”

“I am afraid that is unacceptable to me and local Park End residents. Up and down the country we are seeing services closed without adequate consultation. NHS walk-in centres continue to be closed, piling more pressure on A and E departments. It is just not good enough.”

“Just four short years ago the Government inherited a self-confident and successful NHS, with the lowest ever waiting times and the highest ever public satisfaction. Since then it has been demoralised and reduced to an uncertain organisation increasingly fearful of the future – something not lost on my constituents.”

“I will continue to campaign against the closure of HNS services in my constituency, my petition to save the essential services now has thousands of signatures and is growing every week. You can add your name to it by visiting my website, www.tomblenkinsop.com.”

Tom expresses disappointment as Arriva announces new East Cleveland timetables

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (8th July 2014) expressed disappointment at what he called a “curate’s egg” of a new set of timetable and minor route changes for services in East Cleveland.

Tom said:
“Whilst there are some signs that the company have responded positively to complaints from local bus users channelled through me, there are still big areas where we could have had improvements to the major changes seen at the beginning of the year, but where Arriva have taken no action.”

“Above all, and despite a packed and angry public meeting in Guisborough at which they were present, they have failed to bring back services to the Hunters Hill area of Guisborough, a large residential estate now bereft of bus services to the town centre and Middlesbrough. This, as with the loss of over half of the old 81 service to  Farndale Drive, has seriously inconvenienced many residents. This could have been righted in this new set of timetables, but again Arriva have not listened.

“There are some improvements, most notably a promise of new buses; a return of the 5a route to New Skelton; the resumption of direct through early morning buses from East Cleveland to Middlesbrough on the X3 route and a new peak hour X5 service of two buses non-stop from Loftus, Brotton and Skelton to central Middlesbrough. But these improvements, welcome as they are, have been cancelled out by the lack of any action to bring back buses to Hunters Hill. This is something I will continue to press for.”

‘Monitor investigation highlights serious trouble local NHS is in’

Commenting on the outcome of an investigation by Monitor into South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland today (2nd July 2014) Tom Blenkinsop said:

“This investigation by Monitor into serious failings at South Tees only serves to highlight the very real pressure and trouble our NHS faces from the Coalition cash axe.  These failings need to be fixed as quickly as possible and I hope the methods identified by Monitor will be able to do this.

“My biggest concern is the very precarious state the finances of the local trust are in. David Cameron promised to protect the NHS but, quite evidently, he is failing and the buck stops with him. This week saw Skelton Medical Centre Close its doors, Park End Clinic is in serious danger of being lost, and I dread to think what will be next on the chopping board. I can easily foresee a round of local NHS staff cuts in an attempt to compensate for the financial shortcomings.

“I will work with Monitor – who I met with earlier today to discuss the findings of their investigation -  alongside South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and I will continue to put pressure on the Government to ensure that the issues identified are resolved and that residents in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland have an NHS that they can rely on.

“It’s just a real pity that Tory Health minister still refuse to meet me about this as well as NHS service closures in Park End, Guisborough, Brotton and Skelton, which just adds insult to the injury this Government had inflicted upon our NHS.

“I will be raising Jeremy Hunt’s refusal to meet with me, yet again, in my petition to parliament this evening.”

Miliband power devolution ‘a tonic for Teesside’

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Ton Blenkinsop today (1st July 2014) welcomed proposals made by Labour’s leader Ed Miliband, promising a devolution of spending powers from Whitehall to England’s regions and councils in order to reduce the inequalities between the north and London and the South East, and to boost local economic growth.

Ed Miliband pledged that under a Labour government councils would be encouraged to join forces to create regional “economic powerhouses” to attract more jobs and boost growth. They would be allowed to keep any extra business rates income generated by growth to invest locally. The plan would be “revenue neutral” – it would not cost taxpayers anything – but would hand more control over how money raised locally is spent in that area.

In addition he called for releasing up to £30bn in government funding for regional housing, transport and employment schemes, creating a new national funding framework for innovation policy and setting a target of 25% of all government contracts being awarded to small firms.

Tom said:
“If put in place this could the tonic Teesside needs to develop jobs and industry for future generations. Teesside has massive economic strengths which are simply being ignored by this Coalition government.  Our core industries of steel, chemicals and engineering are not only vital to the UK as a whole but, with proper support, are capable of fast growth.

“The infrastructure of Teesside consists of crucial and unique features vital for many of the industries that could be developed –  a direct supply of North sea gas feedstock; major effluent-treatment facilities;  a well-developed logistic capacity, including a deep-water port whose operators have experience of handling many different products; the best water supply in the United Kingdom;  a good supply of new sites for the industry that are already hooked into services and capable of producing cost and time savings for incoming producers; and above all, a mature support network of suppliers, process engineers, and an adaptable, skilled workforce.

“With help, these vital factors can help Teesside become an industrial powerhouse for the future. A powerhouse that can create new local jobs in both big and small Teesside businesses and new locally based growth – a concept that is in stark contrast to the penny-pinching, Whitehall dominated approach that has been imposed on Teesside by today’s feeble coalition.”

‘Latest A&E crisis proves need for local health services’

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (30th June 2014) claimed that the latest crisis in Accident and Emergencies across the country is proof that access to local health services is vital for the future of our NHS.

His comments came following research by Imperial College London that showed ‘as many as 5.77 million visits to A&E departments in England are a result of patients not being able to see their GP’.

Tom said:
“Under David Cameron, it has got harder and harder to get a GP appointment and that is forcing record numbers through the doors of A&E.

“When Cameron came to power, the vast majority of people could see a GP within 48 hours. Within days of taking office, he scrapped Labour’s guarantee of an appointment within 48 hours. Today, one in four can’t get an appointment in the same week. It is a mess of his making and is simply not good enough.

“This research also comes on a day when we see local NHS services in East Cleveland – namely Skelton Medical Centre – being lost due to Government cuts. In a couple of months’ time it is highly likely that Park End will lose its clinic. I dread to think what burden this will transfer onto what has been a severely under pressure A&E service at James Cook.

“Labour will stop the rot and invest £100 million, saved by scrapping Cameron’s market rules, to help patients get a GP appointment when they need one – either within 48 hours or a same-day consultation with a doctor or nurse.

“People can see how quickly the NHS is now heading downhill under this Government. GP services are in freefall and A&E departments are in the middle of their worst year in at least a decade. It is why people do not trust David Cameron with the NHS.”

‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ argues Tom Blenkinsop over Chancellor’s comments about future investment in the North

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland commenting on Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s speech regarding investment in the North has claimed that ‘nobody will believe the Tories can deliver the jobs, growth and investment we need for the North of England’.

Tom said:
“You will be hard pressed to find many people in the North of England, and in particular in the North East, anybody who would give the Chancellor’s comments more than a short shrift. We’re always the area at the sharp end of disastrous Tory policies be that disproportionate cuts to funding for local councils, the way above-average long-term unemployment or serious underinvestment in local transport infrastructure.

“The North-South divide has certainly widened again under this Tory-led government. The Tories scrapped Labour’s successful regional development agencies, failed to implement Lord Heseltine’s growth report and are planning to cut infrastructure investment next year

“Ever since I entered Parliament I have been campaigning for the electrification of the railway lines across Teesside – something I believe would be a huge boost to the local economy that would allow better links to our neighbouring cities.

“And with these plans – and I use that term loosely – there is little detail about how they would be funded, there is no timescale and all he really wanted was, and I quote, “to start a conversation”. This simply isn’t good enough.

“Nobody will believe the Tories can deliver the jobs, growth and investment we need for the North of England. If the Chancellor is serious about tackling the uneven economy that leaves the North at a disadvantage then I would certainly welcome the investment. However, I will believe it when I see it.”

Tom Blenkinsop “furious” after Health Minister snubs request for an urgent meeting on NHS Facility closures in South Tees – again

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (18th June 2014) strongly criticised the Department of Health after a Tory Health Minister flatly refused to meet him on NHS closures in Brotton, Skelton, Guisborough and Park End.

Tom said:
“In my constituency, the minor injuries unit at Guisborough hospital, the minor injuries unit at East Cleveland hospital in Brotton, a walk-in centre and medical centre in Skelton, and a medical centre in Park End—all primary or intermediary level facilities—are planned to be closed, putting further pressure on the excellent but already under pressure A&E unit at James Cook University hospital.

“I have now asked three times for a meeting with Ministers.  The first time, I was told that I have already had too many discussions with them and that I cannot bring it up any further. I then raised the issue in a detailed speech in the Commons, where I once again requested a meeting, with Ministers ignoring the request in their response.  I then asked again through a written Parliamentary question, only to be refused again.

“I am afraid that is not good enough. Up and down the country we are seeing services closed without adequate consultation. NHS walk-in centres continue to be closed, piling more pressure on A&E departments. It is just not good enough.

“I have not been idle on these issues, but all my efforts have been stymied by a combination of bureaucratic blocking and indifference. I managed to organise a local meeting with NHS authorities that was unhelpful to say the least. Instead of a commitment to examine the clinical arguments and potential additional pressure these services changes will place on the Accidents and Emergencies Unit at James Cook university hospital, the NHS managers at the meeting retreated behind the protection of contractual timetabling, based on funding cuts issued by the Department of Health.

“What is happening locally is not unique.  All across the country we have seen top-down closure changes driven through, and the local impact of this will mean more ill health in the community. Rather than refusing to engage in discussions about service changes, as they are doing in Park End and East Cleveland, Ministers should accept responsibility for them.

“Four years ago the Government inherited a self-confident and successful NHS, with the lowest ever waiting times and the highest ever public satisfaction. Since then it has been demoralised and reduced to an uncertain organisation increasingly fearful of the future – something not lost on my constituents.”

‘Don’t waste opportunity to get tough on knife crime’ urge local Labour representatives

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop and Anna Turley, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Redcar, have today (17th June 2014) called on Teesside’s Coalition MP’s, Ian Swales and James Wharton, to ‘use their vote to get tough on knife crime’.

Their comments came ahead of votes on amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill on knife crime later today.

Tom said:
“Tough action must be taking to deal with the scourge of knife crime. The devastation it can cause to families and communities is almost incomprehensible. We need to send a clear message that knife crime is unacceptable and sentencing sends out a strong signal which is why I will be supporting these changes to the law today. I hope my neighbouring MP’s do not waste this opportunity to get tough on knife crime or it will be a huge disservice to victims.

Anna said:
“Knife crime has devastating consequences for victims and families. MPs have the opportunity today to legislate to tackle this terrible crime, help make our streets safer and ensure that future generations are protected. I sincerely hope Ian Swales votes to protect residents in the Redcar constituency today.”

Teesside Labour representatives call for ‘urgent action’ to tackle women’s jobs crisis

Two Teesside Labour representatives have called for urgent action to be taken following figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that showed huge increases in long-term unemployment amongst women in the area.

The call for action came from Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop and Redcar’s Labour Parliamentary candidate Anna Turley.

Shocking ONS show that since the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition formed in May 2010, in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland long-term unemployment amongst women has increased by 76%, whilst Redcar the figure is frighteningly almost double that at 136%.

Tom said:
“These figures should be a huge concern for everyone. They are clear sign that more proactive approach needs to be taken to ensure that women on Teesside are afforded the same opportunities as their male counterparts where unemployment figures are nowhere near as stark.

“Cuts to the public sector and in particular local government and the NHS have had a huge impact on female unemployment because women make up two-thirds of the jobs in the public sector.”

Anna said:
“It’s a very serious issue and I have previously been in touch with the Local Enterprise Partnership to see what action they have taken to tackle the issue. However, that process is far too long and there is a serious risk that all of the talent and skills these women possess will just go to waste.

“It is particularly disappointing that, compared to the national average, women here in Redcar are finding it so much harder to find work. Any talk of growth from this Tory-Lib Dem Government is not the reality for people here in Redcar, particularly if you are a woman.

“A 136% increase in long-term unemployment is a shocking figure by anyone’s standards and it is clear that, under this Coalition Government, women in Redcar are bearing the brunt of their economic policies. Only Labour is serious about tackling the scandal of long-term unemployment and providing secure work and wages for local people.”

Tom joins calls to deal with Passport delays crisis

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, has today joined calls by Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, for the Government to urgently deal with the ongoing crisis at the Passport Agency.

Tom said:
“In recent weeks my office has been inundated with calls from constituents worried about the time it is taking for their passport to be renewed or to apply for one. Families are preparing themselves for their summer holiday but there is a grey cloud hanging over their plans as the holiday gets closer but their passport still has yet to arrive.

“It’s a very stressful situation, with a few constituents having to travel to Durham to get their passport – an extra cost that many cannot afford – and even worse I’ve had constituents who have had to delay or even cancel their holiday plans.

“Theresa May and the rest of her Department urgently need to get to grips with this ongoing crisis.”