It’s a sad fact that under the Tories there’s an NHS winter crisis every year. It is predictable and preventable but staff shortages, 15,000 fewer beds and cuts to district nurses and social care mean frail and elderly people are suffering huge waits in A&E and ambulances. We have seen the closure of NHS walk-in centres as well as the cancellation of non-urgent operations until February leaving many people in pain and distress.
It’s a sad fact that under the Tories there’s an NHS winter crisis every year.
It is predictable and preventable but staff shortages, 15,000 fewer beds and cuts to district nurses and social care mean frail and elderly people are suffering huge waits in A&E and ambulances. We have seen the closure of NHS walk-in centres as well as the cancellation of non-urgent operations until February leaving many people in pain and distress.
I was reminded how vital our Wakefield NHS walk-in centre is when a family member was ill over the holidays, but it’s not just convenience that’s lost when they’re shut down. If people can’t see their GP or go to a walk-in centre they go to overburdened hospitals instead. Sadly, Pinderfields was in the news this week after shocking pictures emerged of patients sleeping on the floor. Across the country, the number of patients having to sit in ambulances outside hospitals waiting for treatment has trebled since 2010.
It isn’t the fault of our wonderful NHS staff, who are working flat out, that wards are overcrowded, but the incompetence and poor planning by ministers in Westminster. In 2018 I’ll continue to hold Jeremy Hunt to account on his shoddy treatment of our NHS.
Can you do anything? Well, yes. If you or someone you know is in a vulnerable group (eg pregnant mothers, the elderly, people suffering from diabetes or chronic lung or heart disease), then get your free flu jab from your GP, pharmacist or midwife. I got one myself last month from the Maybush surgery on Portobello Road. It’s an easy way to help prevent the spread of flu this time of year.
Mary getting her flu jab at the Maybush surgery on Portobello Road.
In other news, many of us who watched Blue Planet 2 last year will have been moved by the tragic images of the effect of plastic pollution on our oceans. Microbeads in cosmetic scrubs and body washes are an avoidable part of the problem. This week it became illegal in the UK to make cosmetics with microbeads in them - something I have been campaigning for.
The government needs to go further to turn back the plastic tide, and I have been leading a Parliamentary inquiry into disposable packaging. The UK uses 13 billion plastic bottles a year, around half of which are not recycled. Plastic bottles make up a third of all plastic pollution in the sea, and are a growing litter problem on UK beaches. I have led calls for a deposit return scheme, which would mean a small charge on plastic bottles which you get back when you take your used bottles back to the shop.
The UK also uses an astonishing 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year, but almost none are recycled. This is because they are made from card, bonded with a thin layer of plastic, which cannot be separated in most local council recycling centres. The cross-party Environmental Audit Committee which I chair is calling for a ‘latte levy’ on disposable cups, and for the government to ensure that all cups are recyclable by 2023. Many cafes offer a discount of 25-50p if you bring your own cup. Why not make switching to a reusable cup your New Year’s resolution?