Updates from Westminster - Tory NHS failures, cuts to Councils and Fracking U-Turn

CONTINUED TORY FAILURE ON NHS

In winter it is vital our NHS is able to cope with the extra pressures that the cold weather brings. In PMQs this week, David Cameron tried to avoid the fact that the NHS has gone backwards under his watch.  

Cameron’s cuts to adult social care has created unprecedented demand on hospitals. As elderly people are no longer being properly supported in their homes and communities, A&E services are failing to cope with the increased demand.

Just after Labour left office in 2010, the number of patients waiting more than four hours to be seen in A&E was 46,467. After five years of this Tory government, the number has risen to 144,248.

To make things worse, the total number of day patients who remain in hospital because there is nowhere safe for them to be discharged to, has risen from 58,362 in October 2010, to 104,090 in October 2015. This is a terrible indictment of David Cameron’s legacy on our NHS, failing patients and staff.

Labour wants the Government to tackle these issues head on. Instead the Government are burying their heads in the sand, blocking the publication of NHS performance figures and failing to address the scale of crisis that the health service faces in the months ahead.

Time and time again the Tories are proving that they cannot be trusted with our NHS and they are failing the elderly and most vulnerable in our society.

LOCAL PEOPLE SUFFER UNDER TORY COUNCIL CUTS

George Osborne’s decision to axe the central government grant to councils over the next four years amounts to a £6.1billion cut by 2019/20. Local government is already under enormous pressure. But this cut by Osborne will surely hit the poorest parts of the country hardest, where there are fewer businesses and taxpayers to make up for lost Whitehall grants.

The Chancellor also announced that the local authority public health budget will be cut by 3.9%. Local councils, charities and local government organisations have been critical, arguing that the drastic cuts will have a major impact on the many prevention and early intervention services currently carried out by councils. That puts services aimed at combating the nation's obesity problem, helping people to stop smoking and tackling alcohol and drug abuse all now at risk.

Cuts to adult social care will mean more older people will need hospital and emergency care, putting our health services under additional strain. Council leaders have warned that the policy is “short-sighted” and will create a false economy.

Shirley Cramer CBE, CEO of the Royal Society for Public Health said that “By giving to the NHS frontline with one hand, while taking away from public health measures with the other, the government is securing the short term stability of the health service while selling its long term sustainability down the river”.

The Tories have missed a major opportunity to protect community services, improve people’s quality of life and protect the most vulnerable. Labour is taking this warning seriously and will hold the Government to account on its plans.

TORY FRACKING U-TURN

The Government have successfully sneaked through changes to allow fracking below national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and world heritage sites.

Under Labour pressure, they had previously conceded that there should be tougher safeguards in place to protect drinking water sources and sensitive parts of our countryside like National Parks. Now they have gone back on their word and without holding a debate, the Government are sneaking through these weak fracking rules.

Labour Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Lisa Nandy called the Government’s behaviour “frankly shabby”.  Labour couldn’t be clearer, fracking should not go ahead until we can be sure it is safe and won't pose a damaging risk to our environment. Lisa Nandy noted that “neither MPs or the public have received these assurances, yet Ministers are ignoring people's legitimate concerns."

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Parliament is now in recess until January, when I will restart “The week in Parliament”.

Do have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year.

MF

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