My column in the Morley Observer

Very best wishes for Christmas to all Morley Observer readers.

My diary has been full of local festive engagements over the last couple of weeks. And having signed a small mountain of Christmas cards, I am definitely getting into the festive spirit.

Over at Morley Elderly Action on Friday there were the usual Christmas fun and games. Ann, Carole and the team were hosting lunch for their Friendship Group complete with bingo and their Christmas Raffle. And on Saturday I must have handed out hundreds of mince pies at Morley Asda where we were accompanied by a fabulous brass band too.

My Santa suit has also been busier than usual this year. I always attend the Kingsland Special School Christmas Party and the House of Commons Kids Party. But this year Santa did an extra visit to the Leeds-based SNAPs Christmas Party for children with learning disabilities across the city. It was a lovely party with parents and children from across the city coming together to get ready for Christmas.

On Saturday I also popped into the Royal Mail sorting office in Morley to thank staff for all their hard work in the busy festive season. As you might expect, Christmas preparations at Royal Mail were a vision of efficiency and organisation. James’ team were busy doing the final mail sort of endless letters cards and parcels before setting out on their delivery rounds. Postmen and women do a vital job all year round, but at Christmas their load is significantly bigger and heavier than normal.

Once we’ve all written our own cards (and thankfully mine are all now done!), it’s easy to forget that someone has to walk up each drive or garden path to deliver them.
Thank you to all those Royal Mail workers putting in the extra time and energy over Christmas.

Staff at DePuy Synthes in Tingley were taking the festive season seriously too – albeit having rather fewer miles to walk than our local posties. I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many Christmas jumpers all in one place. There were elves, reindeer and even a flashing Christmas tree! I had popped in to find out about their work and to speak to staff, but even Stan who showed me round was sporting a fabulous Christmas jumper complete with Christmas puddings, candy canes, holly and Christmas trees!

The company develops and distributes around a third of the artificial knees and hips used in the NHS – from here in Morley. It’s amazing to see and hold in your hand something that can transform the quality of life of a patient once it’s been fitted in an operation.

Twenty years ago patients needing one of these operations would have been waiting over 18 months for a new hip or knee. But getting these kinds of waiting times down was a top priority of the last Labour Government because it not only has a massive impact on people’s quality of life, but also because long waits can trigger other health problems and so cost more too. Over just over a decade waiting times for new hips and knees went down from 18 months to 18 weeks.

As some readers will know, I’ve been holding meetings across my constituency about the NHS in recent months. This Friday I’ll be hearing what residents in Drighlington and Gildersome think. One Gildersome couple have told me how stressful they find trying to get a GP appointment because they work full time. Another woman, who works in the NHS, wrote to tell me about the increased stress levels for staff in support roles.

These are familiar stories from the meetings I’ve had so far. Our NHS has become so precious to us all because in any given week, most of us have a family member who has used the NHS or works in the health service. So it’s so helpful to me to hear from patients and NHS professionals first-hand about their experiences.

I’m using the findings from these meetings to inform all the work I do in Westminster on behalf of local people. Thank you to everyone who’s completed and returned an NHS survey over the last few months or come along to one of my meetings.

And a Happy New Year to one and all.

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Posted December 17th, 2014 by Ed

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