The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 24th January:
This winter I saw first-hand how hard the staff at Barnsley Hospital work. From the kindness of the paramedics that took my mum to A&E to the compassion and dedication of the staff on Ward 33. I am incredibly thankful to everyone who helped my family in our time of need. I am very happy to say she is doing just fine now.
My mum worked in the NHS as a nurse for forty years. The value of a health service that is free at the point of use has been ingrained in me since I was a child. I am proud to be a member of the party that created it.
We have had nearly a decade of huge underinvestment and chronic cuts to our National Health Service.
In December Barnsley Hospital missed its accident and emergency target. More than 1,700 people waited more than four hours to be seen in the hospital’s causality unit. Of the 9,202 people who visited the A&E department, only 80.7% were seen within four hours. This is vastly lower than the target of 95%. These statistics are a clear indication that levels of investment and health policies of this Government are not working.
Over the last ten years public health services have been slashed, social care has been savaged and the capital budgets of our hospitals have been cut. Tory ministers, including the Prime Minister, have refused to apologise to, or even acknowledge, those that have been left in hospital corridors and floors waiting to be seen.
There are more pressures on the hospital system than ever before, from the winter crisis to bed shortages. At the same time there is a clear growing demand on NHS services.
More needs to be done to ensure that the future needs of patients can be met.
Our NHS needs long term investment. Without sufficient amounts of capital funding NHS Trusts cannot invest in the staff, equipment and technology that keep hospitals running.
I will continue to push for more government funding so that the tireless staff at our hospital are supported. So patients can be admitted safety to a hospital beds in the safe knowledge that they will receive world-class care.