The NHS is a credit to our country, but it is under pressure like never before.
The crisis in adult social care has put huge pressure on hospital services, with patients left on hospital trolleys, sometimes for more than 24 hours, routine surgery postponed, and staff at breaking point. The latest figures show that only 78% of patients are seen at Pinderfields A&E within four hours, well below the current national target of 95%. Yet the Government’s response to the NHS winter crisis has been to suggest downgrading the four-hour waiting time target at A&Es, set by the last Labour government. Whichever way Jeremy Hunt spins it, back-tracking on Labour’s A&E targets is an admission of failure.
That’s why King Street walk-in centre is so important, helping to ease pressure on Pinderfields hospital. I’m disappointed that despite strong local opposition, and a 2,000 strong petition to Parliament, Wakefield CCG are going to close the GP surgery at King Street. This decision could harm the walk-in centre, which shares the same staff, facilities and building. The contract is up for renewal in September 2017, and I’ll be fighting tooth and nail to make sure Wakefield CCG do not close it.
It’s important we engage young people in politics, and last month, I was delighted to meet with students from Netherton Junior and Infant school and Wakefield City Academy. I’m concerned about the Government’s new education funding formula, which will cut funding to every school in Wakefield. I have written to Wakefield Council urging them to respond to the Government’s consultation, and I spoke out against these plans in Parliament. Because when education funding is cut, so are the life chances it brings.
I voted against triggering Article 50 last Wednesday. I know that some people disagree with that decision, and others support it, so I would like to explain.
In the referendum people were promised more money for the NHS. Last week, the Government admitted that the NHS’s budget per person will be cut in real terms next year. In the referendum, people were promised controls on immigration. Yet former Cabinet Minister Stephen Crabb warned there's "nothing to suggest reduction in immigration is achievable" post Brexit.
In the referendum, people were promised we wouldn’t leave the Single Market. Now the Prime Minister has announced she is taking the UK out of the Single Market, the biggest free trade area in the world, where 44% of our exports currently trade, tariff free. George Osborne warned that her decision was not prioritising the UK economy in the negotiations. That decision has put thousands of British jobs at risk.
It is my duty as an MP to use my judgement to make decisions in the best interests of people in Wakefield, not reduce the funding for public services, destroy jobs and businesses and make people poorer. In the end, my conscience could not support the Conservatives’ hard Brexit.