Commenting on reports that certain administrative duties have been outsourced to a company based in the Philippines by South Tees NHS Foundation Hospital Trust, local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said:
“I am very concerned by this development but, unfortunately, I suspect this course of action will become the norm for many trusts across the country. Nevertheless I will be raising the issue with the Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as soon as possible
“There are a number of issues that need resolving. I am particularly concerned by the risk to patient data because of the use of ‘any qualified provider’. We have a local admin unit that can easily be held to account, but I fear that control has now been lost.
“I feel that this use of resources has only come about because of the Health and Social Care Act and I fear a lot more local NHS services are going to disappear over the next 5 years of a Tory Government.”
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Labour Parliamentary candidate Tom Blenkinsop said: “I believe that this election is the most important one in a generation, it is a straight choice between a Labour Government which will fight for local families and our NHS or five more years of the Conservatives putting the most privileged first and threating the future of our local health service. Don’t risk the future of our NHS by not voting, register today.”
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In a joint statement today (March 23rd 2015) Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop and Mrs Sue Edgar the Sub Postmistress and owner of Guisborough Post Office hit out at comments by Conservative Candidate Will Goodhand which suggested that Tom had been engaged in ‘scare mongering’ over the recent closure of the Post Office for refurbishment, and which claimed the work was being underwritten “by government financial grants”.
Responding to the comments Mrs Edgar said:
“These comments from Mr Goodhand are nonsense and personally insulting to me. I personally invested a substantial amount of money into revamping the Post Office and I am extremely amazed to see Will Goodhand claiming that the revamp is simply all down to a Government Investment Scheme.
“I want to put on record my special thanks to Tom and his team who have worked with me since the day I took over the running of the Westgate Post Office. They have been a great support for me both when I was struggling to get the business up and running and latterly, over issues around the organisation for the revamp and postal services while the Post Office was shut.”
“I find Mr Goodhand’s comments disturbing. It seems that he made no attempt to find out the facts before hitting the keyboard and making those comments. If he had done so, he would have found that I and my team were simply trying to get proper alternative arrangements in place on the part of Post Office Ltd during the closure period. Frankly, he should have been calling for this himself, instead of trying to suggest the work was wholly funded by the government he supports – something shown to be inaccurate by the Sub Postmistress herself. I feel that, at the very least, Mrs Edgar is owed an apology from Mr Goodhand.”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (March 17th 2015) hit out at what he called a “rigged market” which has meant that some bus services serving Hemlington, Coulby Newham and Marton will be coming off the road this Friday (20th March 2015).
Routes scheduled to be terminated include the 18 and 19 which operate a service linking Hemlington, Coulby Newham and Marton on a circular route. The other service to end is the early morning 603 and 604 buses linking Coulby Newham and Hemlington with Middlesbrough Town Centre.
“These services have been operated for many years by Leven Valley Buses and have provided a service that I know have been well liked by local passengers. In addition the 18 and 19 also calls at the front door of the James Cook University Hospital giving a direct link for local hospital visitors and out patients.
“Leven Valley say that – and I genuinely believe them on this – they are sad to end these routes, but claim that the company could not go on as it was due to factors including the loss of local council support, increased costs for running services and not having the advantages of scale that rival multi-national operators like Arriva or Stagecoach enjoy – and in particular the costs of insuring their bus fleet.
“This shows just how rigged the deregulated bus market is towards small firms like Leven Valley. If Arriva or Stagecoach were to announce that they were looking to re-tender their total insurance needs on the market, they would be besieged by insurers looking for a blue chip customer. But for local firms, they are left to drift in a commercial sea of disinterest and high premiums.
“We need a shake-up of the bus market and the rules for entry to this market. Meanwhile in the short term and in the absence of any interest by the big bus companies in picking up these routes, I have written to Middlesbrough Council’s Chief Executive asking if they will re-tender the already supported 603 and 604 service and consider taking the 18 and 19 route under their wing.”
News that Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt is to visit East Cleveland Hospital in Brotton tomorrow (11th March 2015) has been branded a “slap in the face for local NHS patients who have suffered the direct loss of services in their community” by local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop.
“This is, quite literally, piling insult on to injury. Jeremy Hunt, in what can only be described as blatant electioneering, will be visiting a hospital which in a matter of weeks will be losing its minor injuries unit entirely. For East Cleveland patients this loss will mean will have to face a long, and possibly painful, trip to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough or the Redcar Primary Care Hospital instead.
“This has also been made worse by his own Health Department approving the closure of the nearby New Skelton Walk-in Health Care Centre, a facility that partnered the local hospital and also provided a GP and nurse practitioner service on site.
“Thousands of East Cleveland residents have backed my campaign against the loss of these local NHS services by signing my petition. Unfortunately, this Tory-led Government has failed to listen to their concerns and seems to be ploughing on with the closures.
“Now we are getting close to the General Election, Jeremy Hunt has the audacity to make this visit. He should be coming to firstly, say “sorry” to local people; and secondly, to sit down with me to discuss ways in which these services and facilities can be saved.”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (10th March 2015) called on national Post Office bosses to ‘rethink’ their proposals to provide counter services during a fortnight shutdown for the Post Office in Coulby Newham.
“From the 4th April the Coulby Newham Post Office on Lingfield Ash will have to shut down for a fortnight for a complete refurbishment and modernisation – this, of course, is welcome. However, what is not welcome is that the post office have, in my view, extremely limited plans to provide an alternative service.
“In short, they are saying that people can simply just use the branches at Hemlington and Marton or, indeed Middlesbrough town centre. For people with no car, this cuts out a reasonably local chance of accessing post office counter services. This is important given the large size of the Coulby Newham Post Office catchment area. The nearest branches at Hemlington and Marton are small and this could mean a lot of queuing for a lot of customers.
“I have suggested that there are alternatives that could be considered. We know that the Post Office have, for example, mobile coaches converted to counter post offices which they could park up near to the branch or on a car park near the Coulby Newham Parkway Centre. I feel this is the only commensurate response they should make.
“I look to the Post Office reviewing their arrangements to provide such a local service at a busy time of year.”
Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, will meet with the recently formed East Cleveland Children’s Council to talk with them about their aims and objectives.
East Cleveland Children’s Council has been formed by children from 18 schools in East Cleveland who are concerned about issues in their local communities and want to address them.
Ahead of the meeting Tom Blenkinsop MP said:
“The East Cleveland Children’s Council is a great initiative that will get young people thinking about how they can change and control their area and speak out on issues that are important to them.
“I’m very proud of the young people involved in the Children’s Council as it clearly demonstrates that they care for their area and I’m sure this commitment will remain with them throughout their lives.”
Grant Hopkins from the East Cleveland Cooperative Learning Trust said:
“The East Cleveland Children’s Council is a powerful voice which will allow the children and young people the opportunity to let those who can change things in their community know what needs doing. It is humbling to see a 7 year old child debating on equal terms with a 16 year old issues that affect their communities. This organisation shows the commitment that the East Cleveland Cooperative Learning Trust have put in to the Rights of the children and young people we work with. On behalf of the Trust I would like to publicly thank Mrs Chris Shannon for her work in the formation of this Council and her ongoing support for it and its aims.”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (13th February 2015) slammed the Prime Minister’s announcement of free Wi-Fi on trains, which he said “would only in the main benefit South Eastern commuters.
David Cameron recently announced a £50 million plan “to ensure that rail passengers are better connected.”
“This may sound grand, but when you look at the small print no one on Teesside or in the North will get anything from this. The plans would only cover services on trains run by Great Nortnern, Southeastern, Chiltern and Arriva Trains Wales. The first three only operate trains geared to the South Eastern commuter market to London.
“As this is a government scheme, taxpayers on Teessside will be paying for city traders travelling to work to use their laptops and smartphones free of charge. ‘Digital’ Dave may think this is a wicked wheeze, but local rail users on the line from Saltburn to Darlington, packed into vintage, rattling, pacer trains will not be impressed at all.
“This scheme needs to be re-thought to benefit this area – and fast.”
Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop, has today (10th February) welcomed the decision to increase the tariff of payments for civil claims made to those diagnosed with mesothelioma from today.
The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme was introduced by the Mesothelioma Act in April 2014. The news today will mean that regulations will be brought forward to increase the tariff from 80% of average civil claims to 100% for those diagnosed on or after today’s date. While the uprating will apply to those diagnosed from today, the formal payment process will take effect when the regulations become law next month.
“Labour has been responsible for leading on almost every major piece of legislation protecting the rights of Mesothelioma victims in the UK and in February 2010, we launched the original consultation on the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payments Scheme that forms the basis of this law.
“I see this scheme as crucial for many people on Teesside – particularly those with an industrial background – who are living in fear of being diagnosed with this terrible illness.
“I’m pleased that the government have succumbed to pressure from the Labour Party and victims of mesothelioma, but this is just another step for full justice for the families and sufferers of this terrible illness.”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (9th February 2015) supported calls for CCTV cameras to be installed in slaughterhouses as a matter of animal welfare.
This follows recent distressing events of animal cruelty being uncovered at an abattoir in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.
“This measure should apply to all slaughterhouses in the UK, including local ones such as the one now operating in my constituency at Boosbeck. These units are, at present, under a regime that allows vets to make lightning unannounced policing visits, but vets cannot be everywhere at once and as a result some cruel and poor practice has happened un-noticed.
“To install such sealed CCTV units would not be costly and responsible managers should not have any cause for concern. It would only be those who turn a blind eye to poor practice who should worry. The incidents in Thirsk clearly demonstrate that cruel practices do happen, and they had clearly been missed by any inspections by the vets.
“I will be writing to agriculture minister George Eustice, who has just received a report on the possibility of CCTV in slaughterhouses by the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, to urge positive action on this matter.”