News & Press

Paula writes to Hospital Chief to reiterate opposition to blue badge parking charges

Paula today has written to Stephen Eames, Chief Exec of Mid Yorks Hospital Trust to reiterate her concerns regarding charging blue badge holders for parking at Mid Yorks Hospitals.

The letter follows a meeting with Mr Eames, last Friday where he agreed to send the decision back to the Trust Board. In the content she makes reference to her constituents who are being "tipped over the edge" by the changes and how some are paying over £100.00 / month on parking charges.

Paula commented: "I welcome that he has referred the decision back to the Trust Board. I will be there to make representations on behalf of my constituents who are suffering as a result of this decision."

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Paula's column this week - I am not afraid to speak out

There are many injustices in the world caused by vested interests, big business and government policy. Multi-national corporations such as Amazon, Starbucks, Google & Vodafone are getting away with paying minimal tax in this country whilst making huge profits.
 

 

This week the Labour Party have brought the issue of tax avoidance back on the agenda. I welcome the Shadow Chancellor’s announcement in his conference speech that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn will claw back £25 billion in unpaid taxes from these huge corporations. It’s simply not right that whilst millions will be seeing cuts in their tax credits and cuts in their public services that these companies are let off the hook.

 

Of course taking on large corporations to claw back tax is only something a government can do only when in office. However the last few weeks have shown that through campaigning, we can make a difference and change the unethical behaviours of some large companies.

 

In August this year I publically spoke out against stores, including WH Smith, who were charging significantly more for products in hospitals. For example, it was reported that a bottle of water costing £1.00 at WH Smiths on the high street is marked at £1.79 at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield. Following this there was widespread criticism that they were taking advantage of a vulnerable captive audience. 

 

The company claimed the higher costs were as a result of increased operational costs and complex delivery arrangements, but as I pointed out other chains who operate within hospital premises, such as Costa Coffee, charge the same for their products there as they do on the high street.

 

Following the revelations I requested a meeting with the CEO of WH Smith, Stephen Clarke, which was followed by an announcement that the store had agreed to drop prices for a range of goods in the chain's hospital stores, matching the deals available in high street stores for the first time. 

 

This is a welcome first step for NHS patients, visitors and staff, who were frankly being exploited to boost the bottom line of some of Britain's biggest businesses while the government looks the other way.  I will be meeting Marks and Spencers soon and I hope they will follow this lead. Whether it's higher prices in the shops or charging for car parks, those who use or work in our hospitals are paying an unfair price and it's time to change it.

 

Small achievements like this demonstrate how we can change things for the better through campaigning and not being afraid to speak out. 


 


 


 

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Paula calls on IDS to take action over appalling treatment of PIP claimants by ATOS

 

Paula calls on the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith to take action over appalling treatment of PIP claimants by ATOS

 

 

Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff has written to the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions to demand action over the shocking treatment of Personal Independent Payment (PIP) claimants in the Kirklees area who, in some cases, are being forced to attend assessments as far afield as Manchester and Stockport.

 

The assessments for PIP, which will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people with lifelong disabilities, is being carried out by the contractor ATOS. The controversial American company had their contract terminated earlier this year for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) assessments due to poor performance.

 

The company have two assessment centres in Bradford, two in Wakefield and two in Leeds. But despite Kirklees being an authority of some 440,000 people, ATOS have refused to open an assessment centre in the area. A decision which is being challenged by Paula Sherriff and local patient champion Healthwatch Kirklees.

 

Paula said “I have had distressed constituents contact my office regarding this issue and I have heard of many other cases where people are unable to attend to their interviews due to the distances they are required to travel. In one recent case the claimant was given 3 hours’ notice that their appointment in Wakefield had been cancelled. They were then advised that they must attend an interview in Stockport.

 

“I have written to Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, and ATOS regarding this despicable treatment of people with disabilities in my area and I am awaiting a response. This is not a one off incident and I urge anyone to come forward and let me know about their experiences so that we can tackle this issue together and ask for a fairer deal for Kirklees.”

 

 

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Paula secures WH Smith climb down on hospital shop pricing

smithsjpg.jpgFollowing a meeting with Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Paula Sherriff, herself a former NHS worker, WHSmith CEO Stephen Clarke has agreed to drop prices for a range of goods in the chain's hospital stores, matching the deals available in high street stores for the first time. 

The chain came under pressure from the MP, who sits on the House of Commons select committee, following her revelation that stores including WHSmith were charging significantly more for products in hospitals. For example, it was reported that a bottle of water costing £1.00 at WH Smiths on the high street is marked at £1.79 at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield. Following this there was widespread criticism that they were taking advantage of a vulnerable captive audience. 

The company claimed higher costs were as a result of increased operational costs, complex delivery arrangements and longer opening hours but Sherriff pointed out that other chains such as Costa Coffee which operate within hospital premises charge the same for their products as they do on the high street.

At the meeting with Sherriff, WH Smith agreed to match their standard prices for all stationery goods and will now stock a new range of 'value' greeting cards in their hospital outlets, with prices starting at 89p. Any High Street promotions will now be replicated in hospital outlets so that patients and visitors will not lose out. 

They also promised a monitoring system to ensure that food and drink prices do not exceed high street prices by more than a 1-2% margin of prices.

Other chains such as Marks and Spencer were also exposed for charging premium prices to hospital patients, visitors and staff, and Sherriff pledged to continue her campaign to secure a better deal. 

Paula Sherriff said:

 "This is a welcome first step for NHS patients, visitors and staff, who were frankly being exploited to boost the bottom line of some of Britain's biggest businesses while the government looks the other way. It's appalling that ministers have refused to act, but I will be meeting other retailers soon and I hope they will follow this lead. Whether it's higher prices in the shops or charging for car parks, those who use or work in our hospitals are the paying an unfair price and it's about time to change it." 

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The alarming costs of hospital agency staff - Yorkshire needs more nurses now!

Read my piece here on the alarming cost of hospital agency staff:

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PAULA QUIZZES HEALTH SECRETARY OVER MILLIONS SPENT BY MID YORKS TRUST ON MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS

Paula_Health_Select_Picture.pngDewsbury and Mirfield MP Paula Sherriff has expressed significant concern at the Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust, which runs Dewsbury Hospital, spending in the region of £12 million since 2010 using management consultancy services.

 

Miss Sherriff has recently raised the issue within the House of Commons chamber and at the cross-party Health Select Committee. In July 2015 alone, the Trust paid out a huge £1.2 million to management consultants Ernst and Young. The Trust has controversially recently imposed parking charges on blue badge holders across its 3 hospital sites, hoping to recoup a total of £98,000.

 

Miss Sherriff recently raised this expenditure with Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, questioning whether value for money was being provided to the tax payer. It is thought that Ernst and Young are currently providing cover for a number of managerial positions within the Trust. 

 

Mr Hunt agreed to look into the specific issue but did state that he broadly agreed with points made by Miss Sherriff regarding management consultants. He stated that caps had now been placed on management consultancy spend although this only related to new contracts and not existing arrangements.

 

Mr Hunt said 'Too often in the NHS there has been a reflex when a difficult decision has to be made, to hire someone from outside to come in and say what needs to be done, when actually the best people (to decide) are the people who work inside an organisation as they are the ones who have to implement it. I think we have been spending too much on management consultants.'

 

Miss Sherriff said “I am pleased that the Health Secretary agreed with me regarding the huge sums of money being spent locally using expensive management consultancies although I am disappointed that this expenditure has been going on for over 4 years. Surely this money could be better spent on patient care or the reduction of waiting lists.”

 

'The amount spent has been eye watering and I call on the Trust to review their policy. Whilst I acknowledge there are financial challenges the Trust has to meet, I fail to accept that this is the most cost effective value-for-money manner in which to do so. I will be raising this issue in a meeting the Chief Executive of the Trust in the near future.'

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Paula's Speech on the Detention of Refugee Woman

I recently spoke in a House of Commons debate regarding immigration detention. Having spoken with the charity 'Women for Refugee Women'  I have been particularly alarmed at the conditions in which many female asylum seekers are detained. Read my speech here:

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Paula's Speech on the Trade Union Bill - 14 September 15

TUBill.jpgIt has been a pleasure to listen to so many speeches today that show what trade unions really are. Not the ridiculous stereotype of trade union barons or militants but the millions of ordinary working people who elect their leaders and simply want a better, fairer, life at work.  

I must declare an interest in this debate. 

I am a proud trade union member. 

I was a shop steward. 

And yes, I have been on strike. 

And I was supported by my fellow trade unionists in all of those, and in getting to this place as well.  

And I'll tell you something, I'm proud of all those things.

I'm proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow working people to get a better deal for people who slog their guts out just to get by and get on. 

I was proud to represent fellow members when they had a problem at work, making sure they knew their rights and got access to justice when they were wronged. And of course that meant standing up to unscrupulous bosses. But often it meant fewer days lost to sickness, happier staff and lower turnover, and productive negotiations when an issue came up. 

And yes, I was proud to stand on a picket line with REMPLOY workers shamefully abandoned by the last government and with low paid women workers fighting against downgrade. As a trade unionist, I knew it was a last resort, not one any of us wanted to take, but when all else fails, that's what is left. And without it, the bad bosses don’t want to negotiate in the first place. Quite simply, it allows working people to have some power over their lives.  

Throughout our history working people have had to fight for what we've got. Nothing has ever been gifted to us. 

Trade unionists fought for an end to child labour, an 8 hour day, paid annual leave, maternity and paternity pay, universal education, a minimum wage and yes, even the weekend. 

Key to that was an organised voice in politics. 

It is no secret that the affiliated trade unions support many of us on these benches, while those opposite rely on big businesses, corporations and wealthy individuals. 

And for decades there has been consensus that any changes to political funding rules should be done on a cross party basis. 

This Bill, like so many others, rips up the constitution for a naked political attack - an attack on the ability of trade unions and their members to have a say in politics, just at the time when it has never been more important that working people have a voice. 

At the moment hundreds of thousands of working people pay a few pence from their union subs to make their voices heard – paramedics or cleaners who don't have the luxury of a cosydinner with the chancellor; supermarket workers who won’t catch the Secretary of State on the veg aisle and teaching assistants who aren't likely to bump into the Prime Minister on the street. And indeed the last time someone did bump into the PM in West Yorkshire, it didn't end that well! 

Trade union members know if their unions are affiliated to Labour and we can opt out of making a contribution to the political fund. 

And every 10 years we are balloted as to whether they want a political fund at all. 

There is no real wrong that this Bill is trying to right. It is not about high principle, just low politics. 

Madam Deputy Speaker, I am not afraid to say that I am a working class woman when there are too few in this House. I spent my life before I came here working on the front line of our services,for the police supporting victims of crime and for our NHSsupporting all who needed care. When I walk round my constituency time and again people say that they want to see more people 'like them' in parliament. 

So I am not ashamed of trade unions’ political work – they are a part of our democracy, not a barrier to it. 

Working people in my constituency need a voice more than ever. This government would rather silence us than listen, but I for one will never stop standing up and speaking out for the people I represent, and it is in that spirit that I will oppose this Bill.

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Paula demands debate on hospital parking charges

PAula_Screenshot_Parking_2015-09-10_11.50.57.pngDewsbury MP Paula Sherriff today questioned the Leader of the House Chris Grayling over hospital parking charges and demanded a debate on the issue. 

 

Last month the Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust made the controversial announcement that they intended to increase existing parking fees and also implement charges for disabled blue badge holders at its three hospitals, Dewsbury, Pinderfields and Pontefract.

 

In business questions this morning Sherriff asked:

 

“Dewsbury Hospital has recently introduced parking charges for blue badge holders, hoping to recoup £98,000. 

 

“Simultaneously the same Trust has spent in the region of £12 million using external management consultants Ernst and Young in the last few years. One may question whether the trust has its priorities right.

 

“Will the Leader of the House agree to give consideration to holding a debate regarding hospital car parking charges.”

 

The Leader of the House responded saying:

 

“I know that hospital parking charges are a concern to many members across the house –  of course this is a difficult balance for Trusts to find because this is money that goes into patient care normally. I understand the point that she is making. There is of course an opportunity to debate health service matters on Monday and there will be health questions after recess and I would encourage her to raise that issue with my colleagues in the department although I’m sure they have heard what she has said today”

 

Paula, who launched a petition against the proposed charges for blue badge holders at Dewsbury Hospital said:

 

“As soon as this was announced I made my position clear on the matter. I strongly believe these changes to be unfair. Disabled people often find it much harder to use public transport and taking a car to hospital in many cases is their only option. I have been contacted by distraught constituents who have to use the hospital multiple times a week for treatment such as dialysis and blood tests. Many are pensioners and have little disposable income.”

 

“I instantly wrote to the Chief Exec of the Trust when these plans were announced and I am due to meet with him soon to discuss the issue.”

 

Paula has a petition on her website calling on the Trust to scrap the proposed charges for blue badge holders. The petition can be accessed at www.paulasherriff.org.uk/blue_badge_parking.

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Paula's Statement on Assisted Dying

End of life care is an issue which is extremely complex and stirs such strong emotions from both sides of the debate.  It is vital that we find clarity in the law surrounding this.

 

Currently there are many people who may be helped to die by doctors, nurses or family members who risk being charged with assisting suicide or murder while they assist a loved one who is begging for help to put an end to their suffering.  This must be a horrible situation for anyone to be in.

 

As such, I believe this is an issue which we as a country must look at again.  It is absolutely essential that were any changes to be made, that only those of absolute sound mind, and they alone, should have the decision.  Airtight safeguards must be in place to ensure there is no abuse of any system put forward.

 

For those living with permanent and incurable suffering, who have made a clear decision, free from coercion, to end their lives and who are physically unable to do so themselves have the additional burden of knowing what they ask of family will give them additional consequences after they have gone.  This is a situation that adds more stress to an already awful situation.

 

I have received many letters on this topic from both sides, and I will continue to listen to any and all constituents who contact me on this.  I am clear that high quality support, guidance and palliate care must remain whatever the outcome of this debate.

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