Category Archives: NHS

Guildford election battle lines drawn on NHS


22 October 2014 – for immediate release

NHS debated by Labour’s Richard Wilson and Guildford’s Conservative MP

Letters exchanged between two contenders to be Guildford’s MP next May reveal that the NHS will be the key battleground in the general election.

In August, Labour’s parliamentary candidate, airline pilot Richard Wilson, wrote to the current MP, Conservative Anne Milton, to ask her to clarify how her position on the NHS has changed since being elected. He asked her to vote for the NHS private members bill being tabled by Labour’s Clive Efford MP on 21 November to reverse some of the Coalition Government’s privatisation of the NHS.

Ms Milton replied to say she would consider the bill “in detail” before the debate. Since then, a senior cabinet minister has told the press that the Conservative-LibDem top-down reorganisation of the NHS was the government’s “biggest mistake”. On 20 October, Richard Wilson wrote again to request that Ms Milton tell the people of Guildford where she stands on the NHS.

Richard Wilson said, “David Cameron’s MPs were elected on a pledge to avoid top-down reorganisations of the NHS. Voters deserve to know if their MP agrees with cabinet ministers that breaking this pledge was a terrible mistake. I have asked Anne Milton whether she is in favour of restoring the 48-hour guarantee for a GP appointment and ensuring cancer tests and results are available to patients within one week. From speaking to many NHS staff and patients recently, it is clear to me that voters in Guildford place the NHS high on their list of priorities when deciding how to vote next May.”

ENDS

Note 1: Letter from Richard Wilson to Anne Milton 16 August

Note 2: Letter from Anne Milton to Richard Wilson 22 August

Note 3: Letter from Richard Wilson to Anne Milton 20 October

Photo – Richard Wilson meeting midwives outside Royal Surrey County Hospital during their 4-hour strike last week: 2014-10-13 07.57.09

#Lab14: Our NHS with Time to Care


This is the third in a series about the 2014 Labour Party Conference in Manchester which I recently attended.

I was there for Harry Smith

On the final morning of Conference, I made sure I had a good seat in the auditorium for 91-year old Harry Smith’s speech. As I listened to Harry in the stunned room with thousands of other Labour activists, I felt even more proud to be Labour and more determined than ever to change our country and rescue our NHS.

Harry described how his sister died horribly at the age of 10 from TB because those in poverty couldn’t afford healthcare before the NHS. That was 87 years ago. People all round me were in tears as we listened and I couldn’t stop myself shedding a few tears too.

Please watch Harry’s speech and tell David Cameron: “Keep your mitts off my NHS!”

“Don’t let your future be my history”

The lesson from Harry Smith’s speech was that without the NHS families in poverty are condemned to a barbarous world without healthcare. One of the next speakers was Catherine Atkinson, the Labour PPC for Erewash. She was accompanied on stage by Jacob, her baby. Later, Harry Smith left this message for Jacob.

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The NHS is in grave danger. A further five years of Cameron will end it. For little Jacob and all the generations to come, we need to fight to secure the future of the NHS. And yes, I shed another tear listening to Catherine’s speech.

Time to Care

After we all blew our noses, Labour’s Andy Burnham then spoke to explain how we will fund 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs. People in Guildford regularly tell me on the doorstep how they have to wait over a week for a GP appointment. It is vital that doctors, nurses, midwives and carers have time to care.

We will combine physical, mental and social care so that older people can be cared for in their own homes. Outsourced social care is delivered in 15 minute blocks, this is failing and needs to change. Looking after our mums and dads is the most important job there is but it is currently treated as the least important. By giving carers time to care, we will keep people out of hospitals and give dignity in old age.

Priorities

These extra NHS and social care staff will need to be funded. Labour’s values mean our first port of call for the money will not be hard-working families. Also, we need to eliminate the deficit to secure the economy for the future so there will be no additional borrowing for this. Instead, we will ask those most able to contribute to pay their share.

The Mansion Tax will be a fair way of funding the future of the NHS. The news website for Surrey, GetSurrey, reported on this here. Conservative MP Dominic Raab stands up for millionaires who don’t want to have an NHS for everyone. I believe that Harry Smith is right and we should save our NHS for the next generation together.

David Cameron, keep your mitts off OUR NHS!

Patients in Guildford and Waverley wait over a week to see GP


Thousands of patients wait over a week to see GP under David Cameron

1 in 5 patients in Guildford and Waverley waited seven days or longer to see a GP the last time they tried, an official NHS survey has found.

nhs.jpg

20% of local patients – 40,000 people – faced a wait of a week or more when they phoned for an appointment in the last year. This is even worse than in England as a whole where 16%, or one in 6 patients, had to wait over a week.

Labour has pledged to invest £100 million in GP surgeries – saved by scrapping David Cameron’s NHS market rules that waste millions on lawyers’ fees and contract tendering – to guarantee appointments within 48 hours or on the same day for those who need it.

Richard Wilson, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate in Guildford said:

“David Cameron has made it harder for people in Guildford to get a GP appointment – proof he can’t be trusted with our local NHS.

“Within days of the last election, he abolished Labour’s appointments guarantee and now thousands of people here are waiting over a week. Labour will scrap David Cameron’s NHS market and invest the savings in helping people get a GP appointment within 48 hours or on the same day for those who need it.”

 

“This survey shows that in Guildford and Waverley the number of people waiting over a week for a doctor’s appointment is one of the highest in England. Residents of Guildford and Cranleigh tell me about unacceptable waits to see a GP nearly every day on the doorstep. The two current local MPs, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former Public Health Minister Anne Milton, must act now to restore access to GPs with 48 hours. If elected next May repairing the damage caused to the NHS by the Conservative-LibDem Coalition will be my highest priority.”

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:

“This survey confirms what Labour has been saying. People want to be able to see the GP they trust, and who knows their family history, but are left phoning the surgery day after day only to be disappointed. Patients are waiting days or even weeks for appointments and that is forcing people to A&E in record numbers.

“People know from their own experience that the NHS is heading downhill under this Government.”

Ends

 Notes:

  • GP survey statistics – NHS England CCG Report (July 2014) see “Making an Appointment” sheet, column BN:  http://gp-survey-production.s3.amazonaws.com/archive/2014/July/weighted/July%202014%20CCG%20Report%20weighted.xls
  • Richard Wilson is available on richard@guildfordlabour.org or 01483 511272. He was selected by local party members as Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for 2015 last November. He is a 42-year-old airline pilot who has lived in Surrey for 14 years.
  • The figures above are for Guildford and Waverley CCG. Guildford parliamentary constituency covers nearly half of the CCG’s area. Most of the remainder is in South West Surrey parliamentary constituency, whose MP is Jeremy Hunt, the current Health Secretary.

 

 

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Richard Wilson

Parliamentary Candidate

Guildford Labour Party

Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Website | YouTube | Donate

 

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

 

Guildford NHS Special 29 Jan 2014


Yesterday, the Guildford Labour Party held its NHS Special event. It was a fascinating and informative evening. As the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, I addressed the meeting and I was really glad to see so many new members there.

The other presentations were very interesting. Here is a video which explains the current NHS top-down reorganisation:

There was also a talk from Ray Rogers, a Governor of the Royal Surrey County Hospital. I learned a lot about the means of holding foundation trusts to account. Ray’s blog is here.

It really is a tragedy that the NHS is being privatised and fragmented by the Conservatives and Lib Dems. Their “any qualified provider” clause is opening up the entire NHS to any private company. When Labour founded the NHS in 1948, a time of the deepest austerity, Aneurin Bevan said that the NHS is “a triumphant example of the superiority of collective action and public initiative applied to a segment of society where commercial principles are seen at their worst”.

I lived in the USA for over a year and saw the fear that a lack of universal healthcare provision causes. If people lose their job, they lose their healthcare, and so do their family. Even with insurance, long complicated treatment may not be funded and people could lose everything they own and become destitute if they are taken ill.

“Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, not an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community.” – Aneurin Bevan

Speakers from the floor joined me in deploring the way many carers are treated and agreed that social care should be better funded to save hospital capacity and costs. We discussed Andy Burnham’s “whole person care” where physical, mental and social care would be combined in a new National Health and Care Service.

The only way to rescue the NHS is to ensure a Labour majority government is elected at the 2015 election and the Tory-LibDem Health and Social Act is repealed.

“The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.” – Aneurin Bevan

Local NHS Campaigning Achieving Results


The one political issue which means the most to me is the NHS. It exemplifies how I believe we, as a society, should look after each other. It is the greatest achievement of the Labour Party and the best-loved institution in the United Kingdom.

While the NHS is a national issue, hence the name, I am committed to local, community, campaigning. Someone asked me recently where I see myself on a scale from the left to the right of the Labour Party. I answered that I’m not on that one-dimensional scale. You have to add a dimension, top-to-bottom, to find where I am. I’m down at the bottom, in the grass roots, fighting for change in communities with real people. You don’t have to be a Trot or a Blairite to realise that, for example, GP surgeries using premium rate numbers for patients to make appointments is morally wrong. The way to end this is through ground-up campaigning.

We’ve got your number

As the Tory-LibDem Coalition races on with the privatisation and fragmentation of the NHS, small but noisy local campaigns can still have successes for local people. The most commented on post on this blog is this one about the premium rate phone numbers used by local GP practices. By highlighting this breach of the doctors’ contract publicly and repeatedly I drew much criticism and even threats of legal action. However, I’m pleased to announce that one of the two local surgeries using the 0844 numbers has scrapped it and is now exclusively using a local number. The other one, Lightwater, continues to rip off its patients by having an 0844 number but also has a local number. This is inadequate, of course, and the campaign will continue until they scrap their premium rate number and apologise to their patients and me for their misleading and derogatory statements.

Ethical or unethical healthcare?

Another promising development, after a long local campaign, is that Surrey Heath Clinical Commissioning Group have agreed to consider changes to their constitution proposed by the Surrey Heath members of 38 Degrees. This would help ensure that only ethical providers of healthcare are used and not tax evaders or companies with criminals on their boards. Here is the latest letter I received from Dr Andy Brooks, the CCG’s Chief Officer:

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

It is important to remember that local Conservatives have opposed any restrictions on the commissioning of healthcare. A local Tory councillor, Denis Fuller, took to the letters page of a local newspaper to vilify me as a ‘hypocrite’ among other names, for trying to keep healthcare providers ethical. He objected to them having to pay tax in the UK.

This is what we are up against: the Conservative agenda is to sell off all of our public services and channel the money from them to private companies which they and their supporters benefit from. This is happening apace in the NHS and is why it is absolutely vital that we have a Labour government after the 2015 election. If I have to take some public abuse from blustering Tory councillors or some legal threats from greedy businessmen to achieve these local successes, so be it.

PMQs: Ed Miliband challenged Cameron on A&E crisis


Last Wednesday, I was so pleased to hear Ed Miliband take on David Cameron about the waiting times crisis in Accident and Emergency wards across England. This is such a pressing threat for all of us, including here in Surrey. As usual, local radio broke this story before the mainstream national media. I was interviewed on BBC Surrey in their Guildford studios a couple of weeks ago about this (audio only):

More information is on this earlier blog post.

The fact is that there are 6,000 fewer nurses in the NHS since the election in 2010. Wherever the NHS or social care system is squeezed, the effects are felt in A&E.

The NHS 111 phone number which replaced NHS Direct is 46 cut-price contracts across the country where nurses have been replaced by computers and usually computer says, “Go to A&E.”

Social care for elderly people is being delivered in 15 minute slots by private contractors paying the minimum wage. Because of this the number of over 90-year olds arriving in A&E on a ‘blue light’ ambulance has increased by 66% over the last two years. These are our mums and dads and grandparents and they are being failed utterly by the Tory-LibDem policy of privatising and fragmenting the NHS, which nobody voted for. In fact, they promised in their manifesto that there would be NO top-down reorganisation of the NHS!

Last summer saw the first ever summer crisis in A&E. This winter could see the NHS reach breaking point. The Surrey Heath Labour Party is conducting a Community Survey to understand local people’s experience of the NHS and what they would like to see changed. You can fill it in here.

Here is a copy of the survey leaflet which is being delivered across Surrey Heath constituency at the moment.

NHS Survey winter 2013/14

There has been a great response already. The NHS is the country’s greatest achievement, don’t let Cameron destroy it!

Freedom of Information Act Reveals Shocking Increase in Waiting Times at Frimley Park Hospital


Press Statement 15 October 2013 – For Immediate Release

 

Freedom of Information Act Reveals Shocking Increase in Waiting Times at Frimley Park Hospital

 

A recent Freedom of Information Act request [see note 1] has revealed that waiting times at Frimley Park Hospital’s A&E department have shot up since the general election. The request was made by well-known local NHS campaigner Richard Wilson [see note 2].

 

The data supplied by Frimley Park Hospital Trust shows that in some months before the election as few as 1% of patients had to wait over 4 hours, compared with as many as 6.7% this year. Also, the typical waiting time before 2010 was often less than 2 hours. By 2013 most people were waiting over 3 hours in many months, an increase of over 50%.

 

Richard Wilson said, “The whole of the country is suffering a crisis in A&E and Surrey Heath is no exception, as this information from Frimley Park Hospital shows. This is a direct result of government policy. The Tory-LibDem Coalition have conducted a massive top-down reorganisation of the NHS. They are allowing ‘any willing provider’ to bid for NHS contracts. This is fragmenting and privatising the NHS which is Britain’s best-loved institution.”

 

On the situation in Surrey Heath, Richard Wilson said, “In Surrey Heath some doctors’ surgeries still use premium phone numbers despite this being banned in the NHS. This deters people from visiting their GP and makes it more likely they will have to use A&E. The out-of-hours GP service and NHS 111 phone number, which are both contracted out, cannot cope. Frimley Park Hospital is highly regarded by local people but, with these additional burdens, this winter could see its A&E department reach breaking point.”

 

Ends

 

Note 1: The data is available here: http://wilsonrichard.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/ae-wait-times.pdf

Note 2: Richard Wilson is a community activist living in Windlesham. He is 41 years old and works as an airline pilot. He was the Labour Party candidate for Bagshot, Windlesham & Chobham division of Surrey County Council on 2 May 2013. More information is here http://wilsonrichard.com/about/ or on 01276 479658 or 07939 273229 or richard_wilson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @windleshamrich

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