Archive for Health

“Concern” by Tom Blenkinsop that new North East Ambulance response plans may mean greater reliance on private and voluntary ambulances

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (December 18th 2014) expressed concern that a new rapid response plan announced by the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).

The new rapid response plan may mean a greater reliance on private or volunteer ambulances on the streets of Teesside and East Cleveland.

Tom said:
“This new plan comes after a string of incidents where severely injured and ill people have had long waits for an ambulance. I have already written to NEAS on one recent incident in my constituency where a trapped motorist was left waiting for hours on Saltburn Bank for a second responder ambulance.

“I have read the plan, and one key sentence leaps out – and I quote “We will enlist additional support from voluntary aid services, such as St John and Red Cross.”

“This, to me, is worrying as spending on private firms to provide 999 ambulances across swathes of Britain has doubled in three years, with senior medics and safety campaigners saying they fear patient safety is being jeopardised by a heavy reliance on commercial firms or volunteers to answer emergency calls.

“I gather from one investigation by The Daily Telegraph reveals that the amount spent by the NHS on private and voluntary services to provide 999 care has risen from £24m to £56m in three years”

“Little wonder that the College of Emergency Medicine have said – and again I quote – that the routine use of these firms and agencies was “incredibly wasteful and potentially dangerous” – with too little oversight of providers of these services. We need reassurance from NEAS on this aspect of their new plan”

‘Osborne’s Autumn Statement is a road to nowhere for Teesside’

Reacting to the final Autumn Statement before the General Election next year by Tory Chancellor George Osborne, local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said:

“Budget after budget, statement after statement, Teesside and East Cleveland residents and businesses have been failed by this Tory-led Government.

“On the big issues holding back the area – the lack of rail electrification to Teesside and the uncertainty surrounding the steel industry – we heard nothing from the Chancellor. In his own words earlier this year he vowed to create a “Northern Powerhouse”, but from today’s statement it is quite clear he doesn’t have the policies or ideas to deliver that pledge.

“On the NHS – the Chancellor has not found an extra £2 billion for the NHS, as he claims, but instead is proposing to recycle funds already in the Department of Health budget. This is crisis cash because of the fragile financial state of the NHS after the Government’s £3 billion reorganisation. Our local NHS alone is facing £90 million cuts over the next few years.

“And on the cost-of-living crisis being faced by households across Britain and on Teesside it is complete failure. George Osborne and David Cameron promised living standards would rise but since the last election, wages have fallen behind prices month after month. Working people are now on average £1,600 a year worse off since the Tories got elected, while millionaires have been given a huge tax cut and new figures show full-time workers are now £2,000 a year worse off under David Cameron.

“This cost-of-living crisis is why the Chancellor is set to break another promise – to balance the nation’s books by next year. When wages aren’t rising and too many are stuck in low-paid jobs, the tax revenues we need to get borrowing down don’t come in. So the Tory failure to deliver a recovery that works for the many and not just a few is the reason why they’re failing on the deficit too.

“Labour has a better and fairer plan. We’ll raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour, freeze energy bills, reform the banks and we’ll cut business rates for small firms, boost apprenticeships, tackle the abuse of zero-hours contracts and expand free childcare for working parents.

“Today we heard more of the same – an economic plan that is failing everyday working people, old announcements dressed up in the Emperor’s new clothes and one that is leaving Teesside – and the North East – on a road to nowhere. By delaying this Autumn Statement until a few weeks before Christmas, George Osborne has ensured that people know who the real Scrooge is.”

‘Even Government Ministers admit the NHS is facing a crisis’

Local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop today (12th November 2014) urged Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Chancellor George Osborne to listen to the advice of other ministers and increase NHS spending to avoid a crisis.

Lib Dem Health Minister Norman Lamb has said “The NHS could crash…If we don’t get the additional resource, then you would see increasing numbers of trusts getting into financial difficulty, you would see growing numbers of people waiting longer for access to treatment, and longer waiting lists to get to see your GP.”

His comments came following the news that South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust faces cuts of £91m between now and 2017.

Tom said:
“You can’t trust a word the Lib Dems say. If the NHS is facing a crash then it is as a result of their and the Tories’ policies. This is just pre-election posturing from the Lib Dem Health Minister – who I must add has supported everything that is happening to our NHS.

“South Tees NHS are in an extremely difficult position financially, this has been plainly clear through various health centre closures; delays in A&E and various other consultations taking place. Now they have identified that they may have to cut staff to balance the books – staff that and already overstretched NHS depends on. This is the record of this Government: an NHS going backwards under the Tories, made possible thanks to the support and the votes of the Lib Dems. Rather than bickering amongst themselves the Lib Dems and Tories should be focussing on fixing the mess they’ve made of the NHS.

“Only Labour will rescue the NHS with an extra £2.5 billion a year on top of Tory spending plans which will fund new staff including 20,000 more nurses – investment the Tories and the Lib Dems will not match.”

Reprieve won for Hemlington GP Surgery

Local NHS campaigners have welcomed the news that Hemlington Medical Centre has received a contract extension, guaranteeing the medical centre for at least another year.

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop, Middlesbrough Deputy Mayor Dave Budd and Hemlington councillors Jeanette Walker and Nicky Walker were outraged when they heard that the NHS were consulting on proposals around closure of the surgery at the end of December 2014

Their petition quickly raised over 500 signatures and residents packed into a special meeting of Hemlington Community Council at which they pleaded for the future of their surgery.

Tom Blenkinsop MP said:
“The reprieve for Hemlington Medical Centre for a year is obviously a welcome one. Whilst it is good news that the medical centre will remain open for at least the medium term we obviously can’t rest on our laurels. What will happen after a year? We could find ourselves back in the position of having to fight for its future so by no means is the campaign over. I, along with my Labour colleagues, will continue to fight for our NHS.”

Deputy Mayor Dave Budd said:
“I’m delighted that the potential for future patients, with over 2,000 properties planned in the surrounding area and over 1,000 virtually on the doorstep at Hemlington Grange, has finally been recognised and the NHS have revised their plans. Anyone who knows this area appreciates just how much Hemlington needs this surgery.”

Hemlington ward councillors Jeanette Walker and Nicky Walker said:
“It’s a huge relief that patients in Hemlington will not now be losing the only surgery we have right before Christmas. We’d like to thank everyone in our fantastic community for all their support, Middlesbrough Council’s Health Scrutiny Panel for the key part they have played and NHS England for listening and changing their proposals.”

In an update to the Scrutiny Panel NHS England now recognise the scale of housing development planned for the area and acknowledge the value that patients place on the service provided.

The revised proposals include looking to extend the current contract for a further year during which time they will conduct more extensive engagement with patients and other stakeholders and develop a revised set of proposals for a sustainable service, which they will further consult on if necessary.

Quadruple spending on private ambulances in the North East raises ‘serious questions’

New figures released today (21st October 2014) have revealed that spending on private ambulance services by the North East Ambulance Service, which covers Teesside, has more than quadrupled between the financial years 2011/12 and 2013/14

Freedom of Information requests by Labour to all ambulance trusts reveals an increase of 82% between financial years 2011/12 and 2013/14 – from £37 million to £67.5 million last year. In 2011/12 the amount spent was £639,820, but this rose by 353% to £2,898,275 in 2013/14.

Commenting on the figures, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop said:
“These stark figures clearly show that under David Cameron the private sector has been driven to the core of our NHS. Every part of the NHS is at risk of being put up for sale by the Coalition Government.

“I’ve raised my concerns previously at the sharp rise in the use of private ambulance operators and the warning signs have been apparent for over 2 years, yet this government has continued to ignore this.

“In the North East, we have witnessed a quadrupling of expenditure on private ambulance services. Serious questions around whether their staff have sufficient training and if they are fully equipped have, rightfully, been raised. It was only in August this year that figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed that complaints against ambulance crews had increased by more than 28% in the last year. Instead of denying there is a problem, the government urgently needs to reassure people that when they dial 999, they will be getting a blue-light service they can rely on.”

‘Proposals for bed charges in the NHS show real depth of funding crisis’

Reacting to comments from Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS confederation, that hospital patients could be asked to pay for their “bed and board” if funding does not match increasing demand, local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said:

“David Cameron chose to put the NHS on this financial knife-edge when he wasted £3 billion on a damaging re-organisation. The comments from Rob Webster clearly show how deep the funding crisis within the NHS is and many residents in my constituency of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland will be furious at the prospect of having to pay £75 per night to stay in a hospital – a time when they are at their most vulnerable.

“Everywhere you look there are signs of an NHS now heading rapidly in the wrong direction. Patients are already seeing waiting times and cancer care heading downhill – people will fear that much worse will be in store next year.”

Labour has pledged an extra £2.5 billion over and above Tory plans to pay for 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 GPs. David Cameron has failed to match that investment.

A&E crisis fire-fighting by government “will strip millions from Teesside social care”

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, today (22nd September 2014) revealed that new Department of Health plans will demand a 3.5% cut to social care schemes for the elderly and the ill by local councils on Teesside.

Tom said:
“I have learnt that, because of government panic over the rising numbers of admissions to acute hospitals A and E units and an overload at GP surgeries, Ministers have now told Department of Health civil servants to divert nearly £1 billion of cash for the coming year which was earmarked for the “Better Care Fund” – a fund that would underwrite care at home for people needing social care, often after early discharge from hospital – back to acute hospitals to try and stem the demand on their A and E units.

“Put into local context, it transpires that all the Teesside Boroughs have been told that they have to make a real term cut of 3.5% in their plans for the coming year. NHS England has told each council to expect “an associated reduction in funding automatically available.

“This is a deep cut that may mean even greater costs if councils had already made contracts for care services which may now have to be terminated at worst, or re-negotiated at best.

“This is a crazy decision in both care terms and in terms of logical planning. The cash which was to have gone to home care will now go back to hospitals to, in part, speed up discharges to relieve the pressure on people lingering on trollies in A&E units, and which, in turn, will put more pressure on those very home care services dealing with early discharges.

“The thing that grates with me is how this has been done at a time when Parliament is not sitting and that makes it difficult to hold Ministers to account. It just shows, yet again, that you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS.”

‘NHS deficit figures highlight pressure hospitals are facing’

Commenting on figures released by Monitor showing that the NHS in England has a deficit of nearly £500m Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, said:

“These startling figures clearly show the extreme financial pressure the NHS is under. It is well documented that the NHS is struggling to hit key waiting time targets for cancer, A&E units and routine operations.

“Earlier this year we learned that South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs James Cook hospital is facing a financial black hole of nearly £30m. The fact that so many trusts are in the red show that it is clearly more than a local governance issue.

“Jeremy Hunt, the Tory Health Minister, urgently needs to get a grip of yet another NHS crisis happening under his watch.”

Tom warns of ‘serious consequences’ ahead of Park End GP surgery loss

Local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop today (29th August 2014) warned that losing the GP surgery in Park End poses serious risks to both the health and well-being of local people and increasing pressure on other NHS services.

Over 1,500 people are registered at Park End medical centre which is due to close this Sunday (31st August 2014).

Tom said:
“Local NHS services across my constituency are gradually being eroded away and the closure of the GP surgery in Park End this weekend is yet another example of that. Over 1,500 people will now have to find an alternative GP and it is inevitable that this will add pressure to other NHS services, particularly to already overstretched A&E departments.

“The closure is a particular kick in the teeth for Park End as, only last week, NHS England created a fund to prevent the closure of GP surgeries in areas of high deprivation. Too late for the GP surgery in Park End.

“Our NHS is at serious risk and I will continue to fight for it.”

Tom Blenkinsop expresses ‘anger’ after local NHS overlooked for new GP surgery funding

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, expressed his anger at the news that NHS England has created a fund to prevent the closure of GP surgeries in areas of high deprivation – just weeks after the closure of a GP surgery in Skelton and the announcement of a closure of another surgery in Middlesbrough’s Park End.

The news came after as many as 100 GP surgeries around the country have been threatened with closure in recent months after the Government announced changes to the way GPs are to be funded.

In an apparent admission that the plans would disproportionately affect areas with high levels of deprivation, NHS authorities have offered financial support to surgeries whose patient populations have an index of multiple deprivation score above 35 – a Government measure of poverty rates.

Tom said:
“I am seething with anger at this announcement. Proposals like this do not come out of the blue and I have a deep suspicion that the axe was taken to the Skelton and Park End surgeries at a time when NHS bosses knew such a fund was being set up. Park End, and large parts of Skelton suffer from deprivation, and the use of this fund could have kept both alive and serving their communities and patients.

“I will be asking question of Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, in the Commons when it returns after the summer recess. This is both bad planning and bad practice and I will be demanding that NHS England comes clean about why this fund was not considered suitable for Skelton and Park End. I will also be demanding that the use of this fund is looked at in the consultation work on the future the latest threatened surgery in my constituency, Hemlington surgery.”