Archive for Health

Tom expresses concern at Hemlington NHS proposals

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop. Has today (11th August 2014) expressed his concerns at a consultation looking into whether there is sufficient capacity in the area if Hemlington Medical Centre was to close.

Commenting on the consultation Tom said:
“Across my entire constituency different NHS services are being put at risk due to the destructive reorganisation imposed by the Tory-led Government – in Skelton we have lost the GP Practice and walk-in centre; in Park End we’ve lost the medical centre, and minor-injury services in Guisborough and Brotton look precarious. These proposals for Hemlington Medical Centre would be devastating and would inevitably increase pressure on other local NHS services, such as already overstretched A&E services.

“Whilst I understand that, currently, this only forms part of a consultation, it is strikingly similar to what happened in Skelton and Park End. I vehemently oppose the proposal to close Hemlington Medical Centre and I will be responding to the consultation saying as much. I would urge local residents who rely on the service to do the same.

“Our NHS is rapidly being eroded away and only a Labour government will fight for it.”

‘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.”

‘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.”

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.”

Tom blasts East Cleveland and Middlesbrough health cuts in Commons debate

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop blasted government cuts to local NHS services in a special Queens Speech health debate in the House of Commons late last night (9th June 2014).

Tom said:
“I used the debate as a way of showing just how bad the cuts are affecting my constituency. Over the space of a few weeks from this April my constituency has been overwhelmed by a perfect storm of cuts and closures pushed through by NHS England and the local Clinical Commissioning Group.

“People in the rural East Cleveland part of my constituency need NHS services and support seven days a week and that is why the last Labour Government proudly ­introduced NHS Direct and walk-in centres.

“They are looking – and have announced as a fait accompli – the total closure of the Skelton Health Centre and walk-in centre. This is part of a national coalition approach which has been targeting walk in clinics set up by the last Labour Government.  If this happens Skelton will lose one of its GP practices, a nurse practitioner clinic and the attached pharmacy. The clinic serves people from the more socially deprived areas where there are grave health needs.

“But then we were told of another threat. The South Tees NHS CCG wants to end minor injuries provision at East Cleveland Hospital and Guisborough Hospital. Ending minor injury provision does not provide, in the words of the CCG consultation letter, ‘better care for the vulnerable and elderly’. Indeed the opposite, as it is elderly people who are vulnerable to falls and sprains that such minor injury clinics can deal with.

“But these cuts went beyond East Cleveland. We were then told that the GP surgery at Park End in Middlesbrough was under closure threat. Closure of this facility will, and I make no bones about it, lead to an increase in general ill-health in the area.

“The cumulative impact of these cuts and closures will increase the likelihood of people going to A&E at James Cook University Hospital, even when this is not appropriate. When that A&E has struggled to cope with demand over recent years, these cuts are a false economy.

“The mess of the unwanted NHS re-organisation by the Tory-led government deepens by the day. The Coalition has already wasted £3 billion on this exercise, leaving the NHS weakened and confused. Now locally we are beginning to see the consequences of this on our doorstep.

“In all this I have sought to meet government health ministers to see what alternatives could be considered. However, all attempts thus far to secure meetings have been rebuffed. I made it clear last night that there is still time for consultation and conversation in place of cuts and closures. The ball is now in the government’s court, and if these cuts are made, local people will know who to blame.”

Local NHS bosses “should heed new head of NHS England’s advice” over threat to East Cleveland and Guisborough hospitals

South Tees NHS bosses are “flying against the thinking of the new head of NHS England in pushing for the closure of facilities like minor injuries treatment at East Cleveland and Guisborough hospitals” said Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop today (30th May 2014).

The new NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens signalled a marked change in policy by calling for a shift away from big centralised hospitals. The health service chief executive said “there needed to be new models of care built around smaller local hospitals.”

In recent years, he said, the health service has emphasised the benefits of centralised services but this has raised questions about the future of the many smaller district general hospitals across the NHS. Mr Stevens said they should play an important part in providing care, especially for the growing number of older patients who could be treated closer to home.

Tom said:
“Local NHS managers will now have to re-examine their previous approach to their plans to downgrade or remove services like minor accident and injury treatment at our two East Cleveland small hospitals. These plans, together with proposals to axe GP provision at the Skelton Medical Centre and Park End Clinic, are detrimental to a true localised community service – a community approach now being championed by the new boss at the NHS.”

Tom takes local health services campaign to Parliament

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, will tomorrow (14th May 2014) hand in his petition concerning the proposed health cuts across the constituency.

The petitions are against proposals to close Park End clinic, scrapping GP services at Skelton Medical Centre, and oppose South Tees CCG’s plans to close East Cleveland Hospital’s and Guisborough Hospital’s minor injuries units and condemn South Tees CCG’s decision to close Skelton’s NHS walk-in centre.

Tom said:
“This campaign is far from over but I wanted to raise the issue in Parliament as soon as practically possible. The response to the petitions so far has been staggering with over 700 signatures in just one week and they are still coming in. It goes to show just how much people care about their local health services.

“Losing these services will radically reduce patient choice for East Cleveland and Middlesbrough residents, risks adversely affecting health of residents, and threatens to increase the pressure on already stretched A&E services.

“There seems to be unwillingness in Government to resolve the serious issues our local NHS is facing. I recently tried to secure a meeting with Health Ministers to discuss recent developments in South Tees NHS Foundation Trust but unfortunately it would appear that Daniel Poulter, Under-Secretary of State for Health Services, has refused to agree to meet.

“However, I’m still in the process of arranging meetings with relevant health bodies and will continue to pressure the Government to meet with me to discuss these serious issues. In the meantime, I urge Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, NHS England and South Tees CCG to act to abandon and reverse plans.”

Tom’s ‘Save Our NHS’ petition is available to sign at and copies can be requested by emailing

Tom welcomes Labour’s GP Guarantee

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (13th May 2014) welcomed Labour’s pledge to guarantee a ‘GP appointment within 48 hours for all who want one and an appointment on the same day for all who need one.’

The pledge came following figures showing the proportion of patients getting a GP appointment in 48 hours has fallen from 80 per cent under the last Labour government to just 40 per cent now.

Tom said:
“Difficulty in getting an appointment to see a GP has put pressure on many aspects of our NHS, most notably it has resulted in a crisis in understaffed A&E’s. So I’m certain this pledge will be welcomed by my constituents who are finding it harder to see their GP.

“David Cameron has broken his promise to protect the NHS and patients are paying the price. We have fewer nurses, walk-in centres are under threat and £3 billion has been wasted on a top-down reorganisation that nobody wanted.

“A Labour government will invest an extra £100 million a year in family doctor practices which could pay for an additional 3 million GP appointments every year. This will significantly improve care for patients, ease the pressure across the NHS, and could save hundreds of millions of pounds by reducing the number of patients going to A&E departments and avoidable hospital admissions.

“Put simply: the NHS will be better off with Labour. We’ll reverse David Cameron’s reorganisation that put private profit before patient care.”

Labour will give all NHS patients contacting their surgery the right to:

  • Consult a doctor or a nurse at their local GP surgery on the same day.
  • Get an appointment at their surgery on the same day if they need to be seen quickly.
  • Have a guaranteed appointment at their GP surgery within 48 hours.
  • Book an appointment more than 48 hours ahead with the GP of their choice.

Comment on the ‘Special Briefing’ issued by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust concerning its financial challenges for the next 2 years

Tom Blenkinsop MP said:
“The “Special Briefing” released by the Trust today is opaque to say the least, and it raises several serious questions.

“From the briefing it is not evident as to how the Trust has derived their financial figures as stipulated; nor is it evident in their previous board minutes as to how the Trust has gone from an apparent £5m financial gap to a £29m financial gap in the space of 12 months. This may indeed be true, but the “Special briefing” by no means explains why.

“What we do know is there is  a documented £7m under spend on core nursing or nursing establishment, yet a £4m overspend on agency nursing, with an additional £3.26m overspend on other agency medical staffing.

“In terms of immediate next steps we need the Trust to tell us whether this black hole is – as it appears to be – unexpected phenomena. But if it was expected why weren’t plans put in place to deal with it? Secondly, I’ll be asking to meet with the Trust and the Secretary of State and if my concerns are not addressed I’ll be writing to the Comptroller & Auditor General.

“It is clear that the unwanted NHS reorganisation by this Government has left the finances of our local NHS services in a perilous position and every action must be taken to ensure questions are answered and that this issue is resolved in a timely manner.”

ONS figures show the ‘true scale of the winter NHS crisis’

Commenting on figures released today (26th November 2013) by the Office of National Statistics figures showing a 29% increase in excess winter deaths last year local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, said:

“These figures are truly astonishing and they have revealed the true scale of last year’s winter crisis in the NHS. In the North East alone, the amount of people dying unnecessarily last winter almost doubled on the previous year up, from 860 to 1,700 – an increase of 840.

“We’re on the brink of another cold winter and we are hearing reports that A&Es are already in crisis. The Government’s severe cuts to elderly care mean support is being withdrawn from homes and hundreds of thousands of older people are turning to hospitals for support.

“Many of these unnecessary excess deaths are caused by people living in homes that are too cold. This winter, David Cameron’s failure to stand up to the energy companies will leave too many people forced to choose between heating and eating. Ministers need to take urgent action and back Labour’s plans to freeze energy bills.”