Three years ago I was invited to speak at a meeting about the closure of Newark Hospital Accident and Emergency Department.
I warned about the consequences if the closure went ahead. The usual sceptics spoke out in the media saying that I was scaremongering. Two years since the closure the facts are out. If you live in Newark you are 37% more likely to die if you need emergency treatment than you were before the A&E closure. The reason given is the distance that now has to be travelled to get the patient to emergency treatment .
This is exactly what I and others warned, including local GPs and it is precisely the same points that we have used to win the argument about Bassetlaw Hospital. It is of no comfort to people in Newark for anyone to say that we told you so, but remember this when you hear the usual suspects claiming that I and others are scaremongering.
Of more immediate concern at Bassetlaw Hospital are the staffing levels, with statistics showing an increase in admission times. In the week up to 28th April, 166 people had to wait more than four hours for admission into Bassetlaw A& E. Across the country demand appears to be up and this has been made worse by the closure of Walk-In Surgeries. The Government claims that it is not cutting the NHS budget, but my evidence is that the cuts are beginning to hurt.
Earlier this week I tabled a motion in Parliament on the Queen’s Speech on NHS privatisation, but sadly the Speaker chose not to select it for debate. It shocks me that private companies, such as Arriva Trains are making a profit out of contracting NHS services, as this is money the NHS needs. From cleaning to ambulances to operations, there is no evidence whatsoever that the private sector does it better. In fact the opposite is clearly the case. If I ever have to use ambulance transport services I would not want a private ambulance with only half trained staff rather than fully trained paramedics.
I have been asking questions about the expense of running government offices in London. The Department of Health building costs a fortune. We have a nice empty block in Worksop that they could use at a fraction of the cost. Perhaps more realistically, Sheffield, Nottingham or Leeds would all be cheaper and better headquarters than London. This is one way of cutting the deficit both this year and every year.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has money for First World War commemorations. I am looking to find local groups who want to join together to help educate our young people about the First World War and its impact on our area. I have attended a presentation by the Heritage Lottery Fund and met with them in Westminster. Please contact me if your organisation is interested.
The annual Veterans and Armed Services Event will be on Saturday 22nd June at Bassetlaw Museum in Retford. If you or a family member have served in the armed forces and would like an invite to what is usually a first class event please let me know on 01909 506200. This event would not go ahead without the support of local Councillors and I wish to thank them for this.
The Heritage Lottery is also helping out with the Priory Gatehouse project, which is likely to get a significant boost soon. I met Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House this Wednesday and I have invited him to personally view the project and the ambitious plans for the whole of the area around the Priory Church, including the canal side. It is one of the most visionary ideas I have ever seen and it would transform the centre of Worksop. Let’s make it happen!