We must protect our precious NHS: my column in the Morley Observer

A local nurse from Drighlington came to see me at one of my surgeries in Morley last week concerned about the impact of changes in our local health services. “Nurses are demoralised,” she told me, “they feel as though their professionalism is being undermined.”

The NHS is a precious British institution with our hard working nurses like Anne, as well as doctors and other NHS professionals at its heart. Every time I speak to health service staff, I’m struck by their dedication to doing the best they can for patients.

But there been so much top-down reorganisation in the NHS in recent years and I know that people locally are concerned about the direction things have been going in. Most of us experience the NHS as patients and when I asked local people in Morley recently whether they feel local NHS services have improved over the last year. Half told me they thought they had got worse, just 14 per cent saying they thought things had improved.

That’s really worrying. It doesn’t mean that our nurses and doctors care any less about the patients they are treating. But it does mean that, with budgets tight and thousands fewer nurses than we had a few years ago that people feel services being squeezed and the quality of the care deteriorating.

The fact is the Government’s top down reorganisation of the NHS that nobody wanted, has wasted £3 billion which could have been spent on patient care. And many fear that the Government’s privatisation legislation means that, over time, profit will increasingly be put before patient care. From senior managers to front line professionals like Anne, those I speak to locally shake their heads wearily as they talk about the impact of recent changes on patients and services. Like many, I fear that five more years of these reforms will threaten the future of our NHS.

Action is now urgently needed to support patient services and stop the damage, being done to our health service, going any further. We must protect our NHS.

Above all we need to value the people who work in our NHS. Over the last few years, nurses, along with most other working people, have seen their standards of living falling as prices rise but their pay doesn’t keep up – they’re on average £1,600 a year worse off.  And those with children, especially under 5s have seen their incomes fall even more because of the spiralling cost of childcare.

We have to do more to help hard working people, in the private and public sector. We need to expand free childcare for working parents. We must end the abuse of zero-hours contracts, affecting so many. And most of all we need to ensure that the tax and benefit system doesn’t just benefit those at the top but supports those, like our nurses and health care professionals, on low and middle incomes, who are working hard, serving their communities, raising a family and trying to get on in life.


A big thank you to all our local volunteer childcare workers! Last Friday I was in Leeds to present the volunteer awards for the Northern Division of the Pre-School Learning Alliance. The awards were for individuals or groups who volunteer in a playgroup or pre-school, set up their own childcare projects or help out families going through a difficult time. There were some amazing individuals at the ceremony on Friday – congratulations to all those who were nominated for the amazing work they do, including the volunteers in our constituency.

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Posted April 23rd, 2014 by admin

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