MPs Paula Sherriff and Jo Cox met with Health Minister Ben Gummer last night to raise concerns about plans to downgrade Dewsbury & District Hospital.
Reconfiguration plans by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust would see services centralised at Pinderfields and include the downgrade of Dewsbury’s A&E, which would cease to be consultant-led.
The meeting at the Department of Health was secured by the Labour MPs after news emerged that the Trust wanted to bring its plans forward by 12 months.
Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff, a former health worker and member of the Health select committee, said:
“This is the first time any Health minister has met local MPs to discuss the planned downgrade of Dewsbury & District Hospital and it was a very productive and positive meeting.
“The minister listened to all the concerns Jo and I raised. He has promised to convene a further meeting with us and the leaders of the Trust so that he can visit and assess for himself what is happening with this reconfiguration and ensure there is no adverse impact on our constituents.”
Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox, who was born at the hospital at Staincliffe, said:
“Paula and I know how much this issue worries and upsets everyone who relies on our hospital. This meeting gave us the chance to raise our concerns about many aspects of the reconfiguration and downgrade – including the way it is being rolled out and serious concerns about a vacuum of leadership.
“If the downgrade fails we want assurances from the minister that he will step in and this meeting suggests we have taken the first steps towards achieving that.”
Miss Sherriff and Mrs Cox raised concerns about:
- The roll out of the reconfiguration and Closer to Home agenda, the implications of the downgrade and the accelerated process.
- Losing the CCG chief executive to retirement at the same time as the Trust chief exec goes part time to split his time with a Trust in Cumbria.
- Lack of regional planning and joined up thinking, and the potential knock on effect from the proposed closure of the A&E at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
- The risk of further, future reconfiguration
- Communication with the public and patients about the impact of the changes, including the need for tailored, interactive workshops in individual neighbourhoods.
- Transport, including the challenges Yorkshire Ambulance Service face.
Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff held the government to account on Wednesday over a misleading statement made last month by the Chancellor Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Letwin, stating that Kirklees Council had ‘£200 million pounds in useable and unused reserves’.
The statement was made in a debate last month following a question on the problems facing social care in Kirklees from Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox. Letwin went on to say that the problems she raised were ‘not real ones’.
Outraged by the response Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff hit back at the government on Wednesday afternoon raising a point of order at Cabinet Office Questions:
“At Cabinet Office Questions before recess, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster stated in response to a question from my Honourable Friend the Member for Batley and Spen that Kirklees Council had “£200 million pounds in useable and unused reserves” and concluded that the problems we reported facing our constituents were, therefore, “not real ones”. I have now had it confirmed not just by officers of the local authority that their unused reserves are nowhere remotely close to this, and even including reserves that are already allocated and not useable the figure is nowhere near £200m. The Minister for Local Government has also now confirmed by Written Answer that according to the government's own official figures Kirklees Council had less than a fifth of this amount in unallocated financial reserves at the end of the last financial year. Can I ask you what recourse there is for Members where a Minister has, even if unintentionally, misled this House on a matter that so seriously affects our constituents?”
Sherriff commented afterwards:
“It’s an absolute disgrace at a time when local authorities, predominantly in the north are being stripped to the bone of funding, that Ministers should make misleading remarks.
“Social care in this country is in crisis and it just goes to show what a terrifying situation we are in when Government Ministers are picking random figures out of the sky, trying to pin the blame on local authorities for not spending money they don’t have.
“It’s time they came and saw first-hand the effects their cuts have on people’s lives in areas like Kirklees, and stop trying to pass the buck in such an incompetent appalling manner to try and mask their failure. “
After raising the issue in the House of Commons Dewsbury MP, Paula Sherriff, secured a meeting with NHS England and the Minister of State for Health, Alistair Burt MP, to discuss dental health and provision in Dewsbury.
Paula raised the issues currently facing dental provision in our area, including evidence from Healthwatch showing that dental activity is very low throughout the Dewsbury constituency compared to similar areas. She also raised specific concerns surrounding children's oral health as statistics show much higher than average extractions and tooth decay in the area.
Representatives from NHS England, who are responsible for commissioning dental services, agreed that the Dewsbury constituency is significantly under-served but that this would be incredibly difficult to resolve without further funding from central Government. Unfortunately the Government Minister was clear that there would be no significant extra funding for dental services in Dewsbury, regardless of extent of the current problems.
Paula managed to secure an agreement from NHS England that existing dental practices could be commissioned in the short term to accept, see and treat new patients who have been unable to source an NHS dentist. The NHS are devising a strategy whereby these patients who have been overlooked can be identified as soon as possible.
It is clear that the NHS is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to help Dewsbury, and to cover provision we have been without, compared with a Government who are happy to acknowledge a problem but then do nothing about it.
Paula will be meeting again with NHS England to discuss the progress of these new initiatives, and will continue to push the Government in Parliament to fulfil the duties they are currently neglecting.
Dewsbury Member of Parliament, Paula Sherriff, has written to the Chief Executive of the Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust, to express her grave concerns surrounding the Trust's decision to bring forward the reconfiguration of Dewsbury and District Hospital.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust is planning to speed up a shakeup of services after being warned by the Care Quality Commission over staffing levels. These changes will see critically injured and ill patients be taken to Pinderfields, while Dewsbury and District Hospital deals with minor ailments. These changes were planning for spring 2017, but have been brought forward to September of this year.
Paula Sherriff comments,
“The NHS is currently being placed under immense financial pressure by the Government, and my primary concern remains the welfare of my constituents. It is not clear yet whether there has been sufficient research to demonstrate the safety of these proposals, and we certainly shouldn’t be talking about bringing forward this change until that time.
“Previously the Trust has not met the 95%, 4 hour wait target for A&E patients in the last 12 months, so I have also asked for information on how this will be alleviated following the reconfiguration.
“This reconfiguration could potentially lead to patients in Dewsbury and the surrounding areas being unable to access vital medical services - I have therefore written to the Chief Executive of the Trust to ask that we work together in the best interests of the all patients of the Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust.”
As the nights draw in ever earlier, shops play Wizzard, Chris Rea and Mariah Carey on loop, and supermarkets try to outdo each other with their adverts, we know that Christmas is fast approaching.
Over the Christmas period, it’s important to remember those for whom Christmas may be a difficult time of year, or who may be alone, or working. Our armed forces abroad, spending time away from family, those who may have nobody to spend Christmas Day with, or our emergency services, still on call as we tuck into our Christmas Dinners.
This will be my first Christmas as a Member of Parliament, and I have had the honour of meeting so many people in the past seven months, in Dewsbury, Mirfield and across the constituency, that make our area great.
The NHS and health is something which, as many of you will know, I feel passionately about and will always campaign to defend. It is those NHS workers, working over Christmas I want to pay particular tribute to in my column today. I know that our health service staff will be working tirelessly to keep us safe and healthy, sacrificing their own Christmases for the sake of our own.
Recently, I spoke in the House of Commons about mental health, about how it affects us, problems encountered in treatment and how early intervention is so vital in ensuring that the conditions effects are minimised. It is over the Christmas period that many of these mental health conditions may be exacerbated and it’s vital that we look out for one another.
I know too that many of you have faced particular challenges and so please always do get in touch with me or my office and we will always try our upmost to assist you. I look forward to continuing working for all of the Dewsbury constituency as we head into 2016.
Over the Christmas period it’s so important that we enjoy those things that are truly important in life; our families, friends, neighbours and communities. I know this will be a special time for many, both Christians and non-Christians alike. So I’d like to thank you, at this special time of year, for everything that you do to make our area such a special place to live.
I wish you and all of those closest to you, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Earlier this year I wrote to Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, raising concerns over constituents who had to travel as far as Stockport and Manchester for their disability assessments.
I'm delighted to hear that my concerns have been listened to and the decision has been taken to open an assessment centre in Huddersfield.
Whilst there are still a lot of issues to be resolved around the implementation of Personal Independence Payments I welcome the news that at least constituents will no longer have to travel impossible distances to attend their assessments.
Today I have written to constituents to set out my position on Syria. You can read my letter here:Read more
Six months in Parliament speaking up for you!Read more
Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff addressed the board of the Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust on Thursday morning regarding the implementation of parking charges for disabled blue badge holders.
Sherriff, who sits on the Health Select Committee in parliament, launched a campaign against the proposed charges in July when the changes were first announced.
Addressing the board, Sherriff said she that she wanted to work with them and appreciated that they needed to make tough decisions, however she was immovable on her position on charging for disabled parking, saying:
“Whilst there are many users of the hospital that have been hit hard by the recent rise in parking charges, I feel it is the blue badge holders who will suffer the most. Able bodied patients have the option of walking or using public transport, many disabled patients do not have this choice and can only access their appointments by car. There is also an increased likelihood they are going to need to access the hospital services more frequently. These charges have a huge impact on the lives of people who are already suffering at the hands of their disabilities.
“One of my constituents contacted me distraught. Her and her husband are both pensioners and her husband is on many medications and has to attend Dewsbury Hospital weekly for blood tests. He has said he will not go to the hospital any more due to the charges being unaffordable. Obviously this is extremely worrying and she simply doesn’t know where to turn with this issue.
“Is this a unique case though? How many patients are missing appointments following the implementation of the new charges? Have DNA’s increased in the recent weeks?”
The Chair of Trust, Jules Preston admitted they had not considered missed appointments (DNA’S) as part of the parking charges and agreed the trust would look into monitoring the impact.
Sherriff challenged the trust on the spending of £15million on management consultants Ernst Young in recent years. Spending which was defended by the Finance Director as value for money. Sherriff responded that as Finance Director he had an ‘ulterior motive’.
Sherriff commented afterwards:
“When I was invited to speak to the board today I was under the illusion that the decision on blue badge parking charges was going to be reviewed. It came as a surprise to me when I was advised by the Chief Executive, Stephen Eames that this was not the case. It was certainly what he led me to believe at our meeting in September.
“I am however pleased that they are to monitor the impact of DNA’s as a result of the charges if not slightly surprised that this was never considered at the time. I await with interest the results from any research carried out and, as I said in the meeting, I will not let this issue drop. I have many constituents that this is causing great distress to and my priorities lie with them”
Paula speaks out on proposed police cuts in opposition day debate. Read her full speech here:Read more