Archive for Health

Tom and Jason Isaacs ‘Make Every Daffodil Count’ for Marie Curie this March

Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, and Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs have joined forces to ‘Make Every Daffodil Count’ this March and help Marie Curie provide care and support to people living with a terminal illness.

Marie Curie Campaign; Jason Issacs' Portcullis House, Westminster; 28th February 2017. © Pete Jones

Tom and long-term Marie Curie supporter Jason were pictured together with Marie Curie Nurses, Sally Monger-Godfrey and Lib Wolley at a parliamentary event in Westminster to celebrate the launch of the Great Daffodil Appeal, Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign.

Tom pledged his support to the appeal and is encouraging Teessiders to help the charity raise more money than ever before by simply giving a donation and wearing a Marie Curie daffodil pin, available from volunteers across the country, or Superdrug, Spar and Poundworld stores, and Wyevale Garden Centres, during March.  Morrisons supermarkets will also be holding GDA fundraising collections on 10, 11 & 12 March.

Tom said:

Marie Curie do amazing work caring for those suffering from cancer. I’ve had personal experience of what a difference they can make to people towards the end of their lives and I’ll be forever grateful for the warm care they gave to my Dad in his last days.

I’ll continue to support Marie Curie so that as many people as possible can get the support and care they need. I know thousands of Teessiders will have lost someone they love to cancer. People should know that any donation to Marie Curie, no matter how small, can make a real difference.

Jason, who is best known for playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films,said:

I’m delighted to help launch Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal.

Please help us make every daffodil count.  The charity is also calling on more people to help with local collections.  Volunteering a couple hours of your time will make such a difference to the care and support that Marie Curie can provide.

 Sally Monger Godfrey, Marie Curie Nurse and face of The Great Daffodil Appeal, said:

Make every daffodil count. Your daffodil means I can care for someone in their own home, and be there for them through the night. You make a difference to people at the end of their lives, which in many ways is just as important as at the start.

For more information about volunteering for a local collection call 0800 304 7025 or visit

Tom calls on Government to bring forward funding for mental health services

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland is today (28th October 2015) calling on the Tory Government to bring forward investment in mental health services.

Tom’s comments came following a report revealed that almost 60,000 people were in touch with mental health and learning disability services at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust in 2014/15 – an increase of 13%.

Tom said:
“These figures clearly show the extreme pressure that is being placed on mental health services across Teesside.

“The Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, need to do more than pay lip-service to this increasingly prominent issue and ensure that essential services are in place to help these people.

“In a Parliamentary Question I have already highlighted my concerns that the Department of Health has a shortfall of £107m short of its promised £250m target for investment this year in children’s mental health services. The response to that was the Government will be investing an additional £1.25 billion in mental health services over the next years. But for me that is too long. As these figures clearly show, we need that level of investment now.”

‘Two-thirds of treatments will be cut from Cancer Drugs Fund by the Tories’

Commenting today (4th September 2015) on reports that two-thirds of treatments will be cut from the Cancer Drugs Fund, local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said:

“The public will not have forgotten the crystal clear pledge made by the Tories at the General Election: ‘We will continue to invest in our lifesaving Cancer Drugs Fund’. So news that two-thirds of treatments will be cut from the Cancer Drugs Fund is yet another broken promise from a Prime Minister who cannot be trusted on the NHS.

“On David Cameron’s watch growing numbers of patients are waiting too long to get tested for cancer and the NHS has repeatedly missed the two-month waiting-time target for cancer treatment too. Further cutbacks will just mean potentially thousands of desperately ill cancer patients could lose out.

“The Government must be held to account over their failure in treating cancer patients.”

James Cook Hospital ‘jobs crisis on the horizon’ as bosses are given conflicting orders from Government

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, said today (August 5th 2015) that there was the possibility of a severe jobs crisis on the horizon for Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital as the hospital found itself facing diametrically opposing orders from government regulators today.

Tom said:
“Yesterday, Monitor, the organisation set up to oversee Foundation Trust Hospitals like James Cook, order what is, in effect, a recruitment freeze for all hospitals they inspect. Trusts are told to ensure safe staffing guidance is applied in a “proportionate and appropriate way” and to take account of financial impact when planning their waiting lists.”

The letter, sent by Monitor’s chief executive David Bennett, states: “Ministers have been sighted on these options and are ready to support all providers to reduce their deficits in a managed way although, of course, all actions should be consistent with your responsibilities for safety and the delivery of constitutional standards.”

Tom added:
“One of the key problems at James Cook, and one identified by all concerned in the NHS, is a shortage of nursing staff.

“Only a few short weeks ago, another Government Inspectorate body, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after a rigorous examination of the hospital’s working concluded that the trust was rated as requiring improvement and it warned: “There were nursing staff shortages across wards and departments, particularly at the James Cook University Hospital and Friarage Hospital in urgent and emergency care and in children’s services.”

“So there we have it; one Government body is asking for a jobs freeze, whilst the other is stressing the need, in the interests of the patient, to boost the number of nursing staff on the wards.

“The core reason for all this is that the NHS provider sector is anticipating a deficit of more than £2bn by the end of this financial year with senior NHS officials no longer confident the current levels of care quality provided by the NHS can be sustained under current funding. Put simply, the financial crisis in the NHS is threatening to spiral out of control and hit standards of patient care.

“The suggestion that hospitals can ignore safe staffing guidance alarms me, and it will certainly alarm patients and their families. The Government, sunk in the complacent days of a warm summer seems to care little and promise to do even less. It is a shocking state of affairs.”

Tom Blenkinsop MP: “The inspection of James Cook Hospital underlines the need for proper resourcing of NHS acute service on Teesside”

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, today (9th June 2015) commented on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) Inspection report on Middlesbrough’s James Cook Hospital.

Tom said:
“Overall the CQC report was highly positive, focusing on the commitment of management and staff – especially nursing and care staff at the sharp end of the hospital service – and recognising that the hospital is operating in an area where there are acute challenges of ill health, health inequality and pockets of poverty.

“It recognised the efforts put in by hospital staff and managers to tackle a background of budgetry constraint and to produce an environment where patients were put first by everyone concerned with their treatment and care. For all this, the hospital must be congratulated.

“However, there were two areas of concern, areas of concern that must be looked at by both hospital managers and by Government ministers themselves.

“The first is the sheer strain in the A & E Unit.  The report says “there were nursing staff shortages across wards and departments, particularly at the James Cook University Hospital… in urgent and emergency care and in children’s services.

“The responsibility for this lies not so much with the hospital, but with the government itself who, over the past few years, have been steadily closing walk in centres and GP and nursing practices across the South Tees area, including, in my constituency, the minor A&E unit at East Cleveland hospital and surgeries in Skelton and Park End. As I repeatedly said at the time, this would only lead to more A&E pressure at James Cook Hospital. This has now turned out to be the case.

“The second issue is one the Trust itself needs to look at again.  The report said: “Not all records were consistently completed across the acute and the community services, including the updating of care records such as assessments, fluid balance charts, risk assessments and decisions over whether to attempt to resuscitate a patient. There were also concerns over the completion of safeguarding records, particularly in the see and treat area of the A & E unit”

“Only a few weeks ago, the main NHS Union, UNISON, expressed concern over the outsourcing of the processing of patient records to a company in the Philippines.  To go ahead with such a proposal, at a time when it looks as if the original processing and writing up of the notes themselves may not be wholly secure, means to me that this proposal must be put on hold, whilst the review of record taking and processing takes place.

“But above all, the government have to be reminded of the sheer degree of pressure put on caring services like those at James Cook Hospital under their austerity regime. This is not set to improve. Only last week, Chancellor George Osborne announced that £200 million more would have to be cut from the Department of Health this year alone. That, taken with the cuts to the social care budget that supports discharged patients, is the real reason why hospitals are short of nurses and medics, and why the entire NHS is in crisis. It is a crisis of the government’s own making and one they have a moral duty to reverse.”

Tom Blenkinsop MP response to South Tees NHS outsourcing

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.”

Tom brands Health Secretary visit to Brotton Hospital a “slap in the face for East Cleveland patients”

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.

Tom said:
“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.”

Tom slams “unwanted job losses at James Cook University Hospital”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (23rd January 2015) slammed the confirmation that nearly 40 jobs in the payroll department at the James Cook University Hospital have been rubber stamped for the axe by the South Tees Hospitals Trust which runs the hospital.

This follows an announcement just before Christmas that these jobs are being “outsourced” to a Lancashire Health Trust as part of a programme by the financially troubled Trust to save £90m over three years.

Tom said:
“It was recently confirmed that services provided by the trust’s payroll teams will move to East Lancashire Financial Services, part of Calderstone Partnership NHS Foundation Trust based in Darwen, near Blackburn.

“This is a tragedy and worse, I believe it could have been avoided. I know that the staff have worked incredibly hard to put in costed counter proposals delivering, savings similar to that of outsourcing and delivering year on year savings. However, I gather the Trust was concerned that these counter proposal would still ‘leave the risk in house’ whereas outsourcing would ‘transfer the risk’. This begs the question of why the Trust only seemed to want to deal with a potential partner on the other side of the country, knowing few, if any, of the staff would want to move there.

“UNISION, the trade union representing the staff expressed the position that it is more easily managed in house and keeps jobs within the local economy. Even if the Trust still needed the savings, why did they not consider a partnership with any of our local borough councils, all of whom run their own payroll sections? This could have given the savings and would have  allowed staff to simply transfer to another local public service employer, keeping the jobs in the area and the wages benefiting the local economy.

“Again, this just shows how the Coalition Government’s programme of pushing for job cuts and privatisation in the NHS is still continuing apace.”

“Teesside robbed again” as NHS cash promised by George Osborne goes south

“The people of Teesside have been robbed again.” This was the reaction of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (13th January 2015) when details of new government NHS Primary Care funding for local GP and Health Centre were announced.

Tom was commenting after the details of extra funding for NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) promised was announced and a league table of increases across England was published.

Tom said:
“George Osborne promised that the government would increase its planned funding for the NHS in 2015-16 by around £2bn in last year’s Autumn Statement, with some £1.5bn of it is due to be allocated to CCGs and specialised commissioning budgets at neighbourhood level.

“Now we have seen how this cash will be spent and more importantly the winners and losers. Once again Teesside, and the North in general, has lost out to the South East. This is yet another clear sign that this Government is consciously and deliberately redistributing funds from our area to Tory political priorities in the south of the country.

“When we look at the tables it is clear that some 54 CCGs in the Home Counties are getting a percentage boost of around 3.5%, whilst the South Tees CCG covering my constituency gets a meagre 0.24%. Amongst the biggest gaining areas are places like Eastbourne and Bromley who get over 3.8% whilst Windsor and the Prime Minister’s own area of Oxfordshire get a 3.6% increase.

“Areas like South Tees have greater health needs than wealthy suburbs. These allocations will do nothing to boost the cash for local GP clinics seeking to recruit the urgent need for new GP’s where we have a pattern of long standing vacancies. All In all, this is a gift for the wealthy and a kick in the teeth for Teesside.”

“Local fall-out from Scarborough Hospitals crisis must not undermine local Teesside hospital provision”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop has today (6th January 2015) reacted to news of a “major incident” designation at Scarborough Hospital’s A&E Department by stressing that fall out problems from this should not be allowed to affect local hospitals on Teesside and East Cleveland.

Tom said:
“There has long been problems at this hospital and in 2012 the former Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust was identified as one of 20 NHS trusts across England that were no longer financially sustainable, leading to a merger with the York Trust. Now, it seems, these problems have resurfaced.

“I am worried that these panic measures might impact on the York Trust’s Whitby sister hospital, which has its own minor injuries centre and this could, in a domino fashion, impact on local hospitals like the East Cleveland and Guisborough hospitals and from there onto the already over-stretched A&E Unit at the overstretched James Cook University Hospital which serves my whole constituency.

“I want a cast iron guarantee that Coalition Government ministers will indemnify the South Tees Hospitals Trust which runs all these hospitals in my constituency against a surge caused by the Scarborough measures. They have a moral duty to do this.”