Shaggy Dog Story

I was on a Glasgow nightstop with work on Wednesday night/Thursday morning so I visited my parents. I didn’t have to go back to the airport until after 4pm so my mum and I went out for lunch. As we were walking there we spotted a labrador type dog limping along on the other side of the road. As we approached, it walked out onto the road and cars had to stop. It seemed to have blood or something on its face too. Two women got out of their cars and we all tried to catch the dog to prevent it getting hit by a car.

There was a low hump-backed bridge just before the mini-roundabout where the dog was wandering aimlessly so drivers couldn’t see it until they were quite close. I stood in the road so they could see something, me, before they crossed the bridge. The dog was difficult to trap but eventually I got a grip on its collar. It immediately turned round and bit my hand! Which made me instinctively let go of the collar.

Soon after that, one of the women who stopped got a dog lead out of her car and we managed to get it round the dog’s neck and it behaved itself after that. My fellow dog-wranglers were ringing the RSPCA when another woman turned up and said it was the vet’s dog and she had phoned him to come and get it. We left the dog with her and went for lunch.

Where Mellie bit me!

Where Mellie bit me!

It occurred to me that I should make sure that my dog bite wasn’t going to give me some disease or something so I phoned the company which has the contract for looking after all of my employers’ flying crew when we are away from base. I spoke to a very helpful doctor in Phoenix, USA. She gave me a number of measures to carry out, one of which was phoning the vet to ask about the dog.

David, the vet, said, when we spoke on the phone, that Mellie the dog had become separated from him during a freak rain shower when they were walking on the beach. Mellie is nearly blind (which explains why her face looks like it has blood on it) and walks with a limp due to a previous spinal injury. He assured me that she does not have rabies (which the doctor in America was worried about) and the bite didn’t really break the skin anyway.

The upshot is that I survived and so did Mellie. If you were one of the many motorists in Doonfoot, Ayr on Thursday wondering what was causing the traffic jam, I hope this explains everything.

Act Now To Secure Britain’s Future Prosperity

Here is a link to the piece I wrote for the Campaign for Science and Engineering:



Richard Wilson today welcomed Ed Miliband’s announcement that the next Labour government will immediately increase nurse training places to reduce the spiralling bill the NHS is paying for agency staff.

Richard Wilson is Labour’s candidate to be the next MP for Guildford. The A&E unit at Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford is one of many consistently failing to meet waiting time targets.

The step-change increase in training of more than 10,000 places over current levels in the next parliament will be paid for by Labour’s £2.5 billion Time to Care investment fund – raised from a mansion tax, a levy on the tobacco firms and cracking down on tax avoidance.


Labour’s 10-year Plan for the NHS will reverse short-sighted reductions in nurse training under the Tories.

  • There have been over 8,000 fewer nurses trained in this Parliament compared to 2010/11 levels.
  • The Royal College of Nursing has said these training cuts will “cause serious issues in undersupply for years to come”
  • A recent survey by NHS Employers found that eight out of 10 NHS employers are experiencing nurse workforce supply shortages.

These reductions have left the NHS having to recruit thousands of nurses from overseas.

The RCN recently published figures showing that there were 6,228 nursing registrations from abroad in 2013/14 – an increase of nearly 45% on the previous year. In the same year 4,379 nurses left the UK to work overseas.

And spending on agency staff has soared by more than £500m.

  • Foundation Trusts’ spending on agency staff has risen from £855 million to £1.4 billion since 2010.
  • A recent report from Monitor stated that the “high use of contract and agency staff…has put NHS Foundation Trusts under unprecedented financial and operational pressure”

There is a growing staffing crisis in the NHS.

  • Nurse numbers have failed to keep pace with demand: over half of nurses say their ward is dangerously understaffed – and more say patient safety got worse, not better, over the last year.
  • In recent days London Ambulance Service announced it had been forced to recruit almost 200 paramedics from Australia.

But nurse training in the UK is highly oversubscribed.

An RCN survey has estimated that there are 54,000 applicants a year for 20,000 training places – meaning more than 30,000 would-be nurses are turned down.

Labour will train 10,000 more nurses above current levels over the course of the next parliament as a key step towards delivering our pledge of 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 new homecare workers, and 3,000 more midwives.

Mr Miliband said:

“Under David Cameron, there have been 8,000 fewer nurses trained and hospitals have been left scrambling to repair the damage – paying hundreds of millions of pounds in agency fees.

“Our training courses in this country are massively over-subscribed and so many talented young people in Britain are missing out on the opportunity of these rewarding jobs. Instead, the NHS is forced to bring in agency staff or recruit from overseas.

“People coming to work in the NHS from other countries make a hugely important contribution and our health service would not cope without them.

“But Britain cannot afford to waste the talents of thousands of people in this country who would become nurses if the training places were available. And our health service cannot afford to pay high costs for hiring agency staff because of the chronic staff shortages created by this government.

“As part of our Time to Care investment fund, Labour will train 10,000 more nurses above current training levels so that we achieve an average 21,000 training places a year in the next Parliament.”

Richard Wilson said:

“I welcome this commitment from Labour to increase the number of nurses trained in the UK. Along with extra doctors, midwives and care workers this will address the severe problems patients face in Guildford and Cranleigh. People are regularly forced to wait over a week to see their GP here and A&E at the Royal Surrey have had well-publicised difficulties.

“I hope this announcement will encourage local young people to consider nursing as a career. Britain is very proud of our NHS nurses. The recent case of nurse Pauline Cafferkey who contracted Ebola showed what brave and special people they are.

“The NHS is our country’s greatest achievement. It is the embodiment of how British people want to care for each other. Sadly, after nearly five years of privatisation and staff shortages under the Conservative-LibDem Coalition our NHS is slipping away. If elected on 7 May, I will go to Westminster to save the NHS for the people of Guildford and Cranleigh.”



Richard Wilson:


More information about Richard Wilson here:


Labour Party Press Office

Tel: 0207 7831393



Richard Wilson

Parliamentary Candidate

Guildford Labour Party

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Promoted by Nick Trier on behalf of Richard Wilson, both of 9b Martyr Road, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LF




Four months to save the NHS in Surrey

The NHS in Surrey is dying.

This week it was revealed that hospitals in Surrey are declaring “major incidents” and telling patients not to come to A&E. Non-emergency operations are being postponed or cancelled. Waiting times have rocketed to the longest ever. Ambulances are stacking up outside hospitals because they can’t admit their patients because all the beds are full. Critically ill patients are lying on trolleys in corridors waiting for overworked nurses and doctors.

This is happening in 2015, not 1996, the last time a Tory government got its hands on the NHS. The weather this winter has been mild and there hasn’t been a flu epidemic this year. Yet still Surrey’s hospitals cannot cope. They declare “major incidents” but there hasn’t been a train or plane crash, an explosion or any other large catastrophe. Imagine for a minute what would happen if there was a real incident and hundreds of injured people flooded into our A&E departments.

This crisis was inevitable. Tory governments always wreck the NHS. This one, with the votes of LibDem MPs, cut local social care budgets which has put an unsustainable strain on GP services, acute hospital places and A&E units. In Guildford, people are waiting over a week to see their GP. In this time, conditions worsen so treatment is more difficult and may lead to hospital admissions.

The Tory-LibDem privatisation of the NHS means more public money is spent on competition lawyers and paying profits for big healthcare companies. Meanwhile, social care is often delivered by hard-pressed workers on the minimum wage, in 15 minute slots.2014-10-13 07.57.09

There are four months left to save the NHS in Surrey. We urgently need more nurses, GPs and midwives. This was the message I was given by NHS workers at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford. We need to guarantee that people can see a GP within 48 hours and social care must become part of the NHS. Labour has a programme to deliver this and save the NHS for future generations.

The National Health Service is Britain’s greatest achievement. It typifies Britishness and how we want to care for each other. The path of the Tory-LibDem government is to return British public services to the 1930s, before the welfare state and the NHS. I strongly believe that people in Surrey and across the UK do not want this. There is only one way to save our NHS – vote Labour on 7 May.


Free education to end in Surrey

Tory Surrey County Council has a long record of failing residents and wasting their council tax money. Now they have announced something which Tory politicians have craved for a hundred years: an end to free education for all children.

The blundering leader of the council, Cllr David Hodge, recently gave this speech and said, “We can no longer guarantee school places for every school child in Surrey.”

A section of the speech - click to enlarge

A section of the speech – click to enlarge

I wrote to the Surrey Advertiser about this in October.

Tory Surrey County Council raised our council tax by the maximum allowed, for three years in succession. They are closing all the remaining care homes for the elderly. Our roads are crumbling and packed with traffic due to the lack of proper public transport. Librarians are being sacked. Community funding was cut by £300,000 to fund a massive pay hike for 50 Tory councillors.

In one of the wealthiest counties in a wealthy country, Surrey has become a right-wing Tory experiment: services cut, taxes hiked and more cash for councillors and the chief executive.

As the son of two teachers, I think this latest move, the ending of free education, is Hodge’s most callous yet. Conservatives are content to force families who can afford it to pay for private education and leave those who can’t without schooling. I was state educated and it taught me to live alongside and respect rich and poor alike. The ideologues on Surrey County Council do not want the next generation in Surrey to learn this.


Who is keeping Surrey safe tonight?

Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to spend time with armed Surrey Police officers and then sit in on the county’s Incident Handling Centre. I watched how police deal with incidents across Surrey which were life-changing to the people involved. I have written many times before about policing and my impressions from observing their training sessions. Viewing in real time how police keep Surrey safe is something which everyone who aspires to be an MP should do. It was eye-opening for me.

Armed police in Surrey carry out the counter terrorism function here so security is tight and I will respect their request not to identify operational officers and tactics.


I visited the operational armed policing base in Guildford and had the opportunity to speak to officers, learn about tactics and handle the weapons and equipment armed officers use. An ARV is an Armed Response Vehicle which carries the specialist officers on patrol continuously. The question of whether ARVs should be sent to routine police jobs was what started my investigation.

In the last few days, US police have been in the news for shooting an unarmed black teenager and a child with a toy gun. The militarisation of police in the USA has trampled civil rights and leaves many people living in an effective police state. This hasn’t happened here and from what I have seen, there are no signs of it in Surrey yet.

Can you guess how many police were on duty across Surrey last night? And how many of those are armed? I won’t reveal the exact numbers but it’s fewer than you think. There are 1.2 million residents in Surrey and a very small number of police cover the whole area.

Being a police officer is not an easy job. I can vouch that wearing body armour and a helmet is uncomfortable and the weapons and ammunition feel heavy after a while too. They have to go anywhere, there can be no no-go areas for police. Police pay and pensions have been squeezed and they have to work longer before they retire. The sergeant who I accompanied yesterday might have been a teacher and had an outlook on life typical of many public servants: a desire to give something back to society and protect the vulnerable.

Like all public servants, police deserve to be properly led and fairly rewarded.

It is important that Surrey Police and other forces are funded appropriately. However, I hope that Council Tax is not raised again to compensate for central government cuts. Council Tax is a regressive tax and working people are already squeezed by the cost of living crisis in Guildford.

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were supposed to bear down on inefficiencies, not simply raise tax by the maximum allowed and spend it all. Abolishing PCCs would save millions which could be spent on policing.

Yesterday, I saw examples of firearms which have been seized or handed in by the public. I would like to see fewer firearms in circulation in Surrey, including legally held ones. Recently, legally held guns have been used to murder people in this county so I would like police to be able to charge the full cost of issuing shotgun certificates, for example.

Following police officers at their work has helped me appreciate the pressures they are under. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said that police should tackle crime, and that’s all. However, I witnessed police being called on in Surrey to save people who were in pain emotionally and needed help which only police could provide in time. Contrast that with the news today about the former Conservative Chief Whip verbally abusing the armed police officer who was protecting him.

Thank you to Surrey Police, especially the sergeant who escorted me and the inspector in charge of the IHC, for being so open and allowing me to witness your work. I feel reassured and impressed by the people who are quietly keeping us all safe in Surrey tonight.

Keep your cool! Don’t abuse shopworkers

I was very pleased to offer my support to workers at Guildford’s Tesco store today. They are campaigning to protect shopworkers from verbal and physical abuse received from some customers. This is part of USDAW’s Respect for Shopworkers Week.

2014-11-13 09.56.56

I had the opportunity to speak to members of staff and hear their experiences. Thank you to Angie, Lyn, Sue, Lucy and Tasha for inviting me and telling about the occasions where customers lost their cool.

The relationship between customers and those who provide a service is sometimes very uneven in terms of power. In a similar way, the power relationship between employers and employees can be unbalanced too. When this happens there is the potential for the relationship to become abusive. It was this imbalance that led to the Labour Party being set up over 100 years ago and it is why we still exist today.

It was great to see that Tesco management were supporting the campaign today. They allowed me into the staff canteen for a cup of tea and a chat with staff on their break. Tesco realise that their employees deserve to be protected from abuse and that it is not part of their job.

Please remember the next time you are feeling stressed while shopping: follow the USDAW penguin’s advice and Keep Your Cool!



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