Morley Observer Column

A fortnight ago Morley had a new MP. For the day. I was usurped. Well, sort of. Every year on the Children’s Commissioner’s Takeover Day, children and young people get the chance to ‘take over’ an adult’s job for the day. It gives them the change to be involved in decision-making and take on new responsibilities. For me it’s an opportunities to get a young person’s perspective on my job first hand. So this year to mark Takeover Day in November local year 10 student, Debbie Chown joined me for my constituency appointments. She did a brilliant job.

First, Debbie and I visited Ace Engineering for a meeting with staff about the economic challenges they are facing. Then after surgeries, Debbie joined dozens of other local residents for a meeting to discuss changes to the NHS.

I’ve now had four meetings with hundreds of local people to hear their views. Thousands more have told me what they think in surveys. Most of those I’ve spoken to have had really positive experiences of the care they had received from GPs and local hospitals. But they’re also concerned that if GPs take over budgets they will no longer have time for patients. Under the new government plans GPs will take over most of the NHS budget so it will be up to them to allocate resources and decide who gets what care. Our local GPs are excellent and work really hard. But I agree with those who’ve said they end up spending more time in meetings and filling in forms instead of looking after patients. One woman at the meeting in Morley told us, “At my doctors surgery we already have trouble getting an appointment to see a GP. They don’t need anything else to do.”Reorganising the NHS will also be extremely expensive, costing taxpayers up to £3 billion. As one man said at our meeting in Morley, “we wouldn’t mind change as long as it makes things better, but things seem to be getting worse not better at present.” He’s unfortunately right. Waiting times at Accident and Emergency Departments are on the increase, doctors, nurses and other staff involved in caring for patients have been losing their jobs and of course the crucial children’s heart surgery unit at LGI has come under threat of closure.

Debbie told me it was interesting to hear the views of so many people but she was disappointed there weren’t any young people having their say. She’s right. With the biggest planned reorganization of the NHS since it was set up in 1948, everyone from the very young to the very old will be affected.

As Debbie said, everyone is affected by the proposed changes to our Health Service, and young people shouldn’t think their views don’t count. Anyone who wants to send me their views should get in touch.

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Posted November 30th, 2011 by Ed