Archive for Health

Tom supports 100th ‘Kids of Steel’ event in Parliament

Local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, will be supporting the 100th TATA Kids of Steel event in Parliament next week (Monday 25th November 2013).

The TATA Kids of Steel series aims to encourage children across the UK to adopt a healthier lifestyle through sport and exercise, as well as providing a great day out for the local community. Two events have previously been held on Teesside – most recently in September at the Eston Leisure Centre.

30 children, including from Lingfield Primary School, have been invited by Tata Steel to participate in the event.

The children will complete a swim on an indoor ‘swim-trainer’, a bike on a ‘turbo trainer’ and a run on a treadmill. Each child will have two minutes on each activity to complete as much distance as they can, with a challenge laid down to see if between them, they can complete an Olympic distance triathlon of 1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run.

Tom said:
“I’m proud to be sponsoring this special event next week in Parliament. It is probably the first of triathlon to ever take place in Parliament. I’m very pleased that local school children from Lingfield Primary School are also able to make the journey down to take part.

“The work TATA Steel and the British Triathlon Federation have been doing to promote a healthy lifestyle for young people has been invaluable so I hope they can build on the work they have already done.

“I’m sure it will be a memorable afternoon for all of the children involved.”

‘120 mile roundtrip is not a solution for NHS backlog’ says local Labour MP

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (16th November 2013) branded leaked proposals “unacceptable and inadequate for local needs”.

His comments came following reports that emergency talks, held at the end of October, to plan how waiting times in departments struggling to clear backlogs could be tackled included proposals to use private providers such as The Spire Hospital in Leeds.

Tom said:
“Local people will be shocked to hear that there is a possibility they would have to endure a 120 mile roundtrip to Leeds to receive the treatment that they need. In their most vulnerable state people will want to know that they have family and friends close by when they are in the hospital and I’m afraid this proposal doesn’t accommodate that.

“I raised some of the legitimate concerns Teesside NHS services are facing with Health Minister, Dr Dan Poulter, but unfortunately he failed to address these. I have subsequently written to him asking him to closely check the situation with Monitor, something he failed to do in my recent Westminster Hall debate.

“Whilst I am pleased that an emergency meeting took place to try and deal with what is a very concerning situation I do not think this is the right solution. I look forward to meeting with the Chief Executive of the South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group to discuss this and other ongoing concerns.”

Tom leads debate over North East NHS funding

Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (5th November 2013) secured a Westminster Hall debate over NHS funding in the North East and Teesside.

The issue was raised following research that if a proposed NHS funding formula is given the go ahead then the North East could lose out heavily.

The new formula that would decide how much the local NHS clinical commissioning body has to spend is, for the first time, expected to exclude social deprivation and poor health from the formula and instead distribute money on the general need of the population.

Tom said:
“These figures are frightening for Teesside and for the South Tees area which covers my constituency. To suggest that over the next couple of years that 17 and half million pounds be stripped out of the cash allocation for primary care GP service led services in the South Tees area, will mean that a an areas with some of the worse health inequalities in the UK will lose out, with that cash being diverted to wealthy areas like Sussex, Kent and the Prime Minister’s own area of Oxfordshire.

“If this is allowed to happen, then cash will be drained from GP surgeries across the South Tees area, from cash transfers to local hospitals for critical patients and from joint GP, Council and nursing services for elderly care and home visiting.

“If areas of greater deprivation are given less NHS funding then economic inequality becomes health inequality. If NHS funds are disproportionately going south then it puts the North at a disadvantage.

“Unfortunately this isn’t my only concern I have for the NHS in our area. In the debate I also intend to highlight the complete lack of winter funding for local A&E services and the current investigation over treatment times being carried out by health regulator Monitor.”

‘A clear sign of an on-going NHS crisis’ as regulator begins investigation – urges constituents to come forward

Local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (16th October 2013) suggested that the launch of an investigation by health regulator Monitor into missed targets for treatment times is ‘a sign of the on-going crisis our NHS is facing as it is placed under unprecedented pressures’.

The health sector regulator has opened a formal investigation into whether the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has breached its licence to provide healthcare services. The main issues are 1) a persistent failure to meet this target; 2) challenging C. Difficile targets and 3) a rise in reported ‘never events’ (incidents which are so serious they should never happen).

Tom is also urging members of the public in our constituency to come forward with complaints of missed appointments or operations and will pass on evidence to Monitor.

Tom said:
“Like many of my constituents I am very concerned to hear that such a serious investigation is taking place and, understandably, will want a solution as soon as possible.

“I can’t help but think that the Coalition Government must take responsibility for their NHS failings. The cuts to nurses, the unfair allocation of funding to our area and presiding over the first summer A&E crisis in living memory, are just a few examples of their mishandling of the NHS.

“I am eager to work with all of the relevant parties that can help our local health service get through this – and take any action required – to deal with the serious issues Monitor has highlighted. Constituents who have faced missed appointments or operations should also come forward so that Monitor has all the evidence it needs to resolve the issues.”

Tory A&E winter plans branded a disgrace as North East misses out on vital funding

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (10th September 2013) branded Jeremy Hunt’s A&E winter planning a disgrace as it was revealed the North East will not receive any extra cash to deal with winter pressures.

In a written ministerial statement it was revealed that out of a pot of £250 million: £57million will be for the South of England, £55 million for London, £86 million for Midlands and East combined, and £21 million for the North West and Yorkshire combined.

Tom said:

“It is an absolute disgrace that the health service in the North East is missing out any extra funding to cope with the inevitable extra pressures A&E services face during the winter months. In light of some of the incidents that took place last year at local hospitals, I am genuinely puzzled as to why our area is missing out on this funding. I even met with the Minister and arranged a Parliamentary debate to highlight A&E issues our area is facing so Jeremy Hunt cannot deny that he is not aware of the issues facing our area.

“Locally, a lot of work has gone into improving A&E services following some of the appalling incidents that took place last year but I fear that good work could come undone as we head into the winter months.

“I will be raising the issue with Ministers as soon as possible and I sincerely hope that not including the North East in this funding is, at best, just a mistake on behalf of Health Secretary. At worst, it just goes to show that you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS.”

Tom expresses renewed fears over local ambulance cash cuts

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (22nd August 2013) expressed fresh concerns over local ambulance cash cuts, after receiving a letter from the Chief Executive of the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).

Tom said: “Over recent weeks, I have been receiving expressions of concern from constituents over the increasing use of private and voluntary ambulances in response to 999 calls in this area.

“The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) wrote back to me on two of these incidents and in their reply, it became clear that central government funding cuts are eroding this blue light service.

“NEAS said – and I quote – “Each year we have discussions with our commissioners on the forecast number of incidents in the forthcoming year. The outcome of these discussions for 2013-14 were that commissioners felt it necessary to set our income on activity for the next 12 months at a level less than we were forecasting… So for 2013-14, we have been contracted to respond to 376,000 incidents, although we are forecasting activity at an estimated 415,000. This means that any incidents above 376,000 will be funded on a one-off basis rather than as recurrent annual income. These arrangements do not allow us to enhance our own workforce plan because the money for the additional activity will not be available next year to fund the extra salaries, overheads and vehicles we need to meet the extra demand.”   “So there we have it. Our local ambulance service will see more cuts, more private and volunteer ambulances and possibly a less responsive service. And that is not a politician saying this – it is the Chief Operating Officer of the North East Ambulance Service. Once again, it shows that you can’t trust the Tories or the Liberals to preserve and fund the NHS.”

We cannot afford another winter A&E crisis warns Tom

Following a report released today (24th July 2013) by the Health Select Committee into urgent and emergency services local MP, Tom Blenkinsop, is urging the Government to act on the report and ‘sort out the mess in A&E’.

Tom said:
“We simply cannot afford another winter A&E crisis and it is imperative that the Government act on this report. Only last week, hospitals reported a rise in A&E admissions due to the heat, particularly amongst the elderly. At least in terms of reporting, the A&E crisis has been going on for the better part of a year and I dread to think what winter will have in store for local service users.

“We have lost almost 5000 nurses since 2010 and this report rightly highlights staffing as a major factor in the on-going crisis in A&E. According to evidence in the report recruitment ‘workforce recruitment is in crisis [and] 3 successive years of only 50% fill rates for Emergency Medicine trainees has resulted in a ‘lost cohort’ of over 200 potential consultants’. It is a shocking indictment of the turmoil our NHS is going through.

“It would be a disgrace if, come winter, we had another round of almost daily reports of members of the public left queuing in ambulances outside of James Cook or patients untreated for 11 hours. David Cameron must act on this report without delay if this coming winter is not to turn out even worse than the last.”

Tom Blenkinsop opens new Skelton Pharmacy A business we had to battle for

A good piece of local East Cleveland news was made recently when local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, officially opened the new Skelton Pharmacy.

The pharmacy is sited in the same building as the Skelton Medical Centre, and partners the GP practice, the community nurse practitioner service and the NHS dentists practice already based in the building on Bylands Road.

Tom said:
“Over the last 6 months I have been involved in a long battle to help the Pharmacy managers, who already run the popular and thriving Lingdale Pharmacy, get the business up and running. The problem was that the practice needed prior approval from the local NHS Primary Care Trust and, thanks to the ill thought out and divisive new structure being imposed on the NHS by the Coalition Government; the PCT was already winding up its affairs and lacked the capability to sanction this approval. It was only after energetic lobbying and local press coverage – with Coastal View very much to the fore – that the PCT agreed to the new venture literally days before they went out of existence.

“Now that it is there, the new pharmacy will provide local people with a prescribing service on their very doorstop, and through this, helping to tackle ill health in the community of Skelton and New Skelton.”

The manager of the Skelton Pharmacy, Mr Zulfiqar Rafiq, said:
“I have been very grateful to Tom and his constituency office staff for the way they helped me battle the bureaucrats to get this business up and running. Now it is open, it is providing a daily prescribing and delivery service for local people, helping them with health advice and health promotion and providing a partnership to the GP’s and nurses at the Skelton Medical Centre. My staff is committed to providing a friendly and personal service and we look forward to be part of Skelton’s community life.”

Clear North-South health divide

  • A league table of premature deaths reveals nine out of 10 worst spots are in the North

Local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (11th June 2013) claimed it is ‘no surprise’ that the areas with the biggest health challenges are the same places that are getting the biggest cuts from the Government.

Local authorities in the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland ranked as follows:

  • Middlesbrough – 145th (out of 150)for overall premature deaths; 149th for (deaths per 100,00 caused  by) cancer; 145th for lung disease and 146th for liver disease
  • Redcar and Cleveland – 93rd overall and 135th for cancer

Tom said:
“When the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, handed out public health funding, he gave the biggest cheques to some of the wealthiest areas but asked areas where health is poorest to make do with a fraction of the amount.

“In my constituency the average spending allocation was just £96 per person compared with Kensington and Chelsea who got £130. It will be extremely difficult to close the health gap when we are challenged with tackling the crisis with £34 less per person.

“Under the last Labour Government, many deprived areas saw people’s life expectancy rise and stroke and heart disease deaths fell by a half. Now we see the gap between those in the wealthiest areas and people in more deprived parts of the country is growing.

“On David Cameron’s watch, there’s a widening postcode lottery when it comes to people’s health and, as ever with the Tories, it’s the poorest areas that are being hit hardest.”

A&E crisis shows Tory failure on the NHS

Local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (4th June 2013) slammed the Tory-led Government for failing to deal with the A&E crisis as statistics show more ambulances are queuing up outside A&E units in Teesside and more people are waiting longer before being seen.

When Labour left office, A&E was performing well with 98% of patients seen within 4 hours. But since the 2010 general election, the number of patients waiting over 4 hours has more than doubled and ambulance queues have doubled as well.

In our area, the number of patients waiting longer than half an hour to be transferred from an ambulance increased from 4,558 in 2010/11 to 8,136 in 2012/13 and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has failed to meet 4 hour target for 26 weeks.

Tom said:
“Patients and hospitals on Teesside are paying the price for David Cameron’s mismanagement of the NHS and for his decision to proceed with a top-down reorganisation that he promised wouldn’t happen.

“The unfolding crisis in A&E is a clear symptom of a system under pressure and there is no more visible sign than ambulances queuing up outside A&E units and patients waiting longer to be seen.

“The Government’s devastating cuts to budgets for elderly care are a major cause of the A&E crisis. Fewer older people are getting the care they need at home, meaning more are having to be admitted to hospital, and more get stuck in hospital beds at the end of their treatment because the help isn’t there at home.”

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“This is a crisis of David Cameron’s own making. Instead of casting round for others to blame, David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt need to accept responsibility and develop an urgent plan to relieve the pressure.

“David Cameron and his Health Secretary have been caught looking for scapegoats instead of solutions. They need to cut the spin and get a grip without delay.”