Dewsbury 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.
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.
I am sure many have seen the heart breaking images of the 3 year old Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi whose body was swept up on a beach in Turkey. Words cannot describe how harrowing this image was for anyone to see.
But this is just one image. Thousands of men, women and children have lost their lives this summer fleeing their home country in order to save themselves and their families, only to be crammed into unsafe boats and trucks by people traffickers who have no regard for their lives whatsoever.
So far the response from the Prime Minister and the Government has been a disgrace. With the 2500 people estimated to have lost their lives in the Mediterranean this summer, Britain has taken in just 216 Syrian refugees. This is a humanitarian crisis of a colossal scale and as a nation we cannot stand by and watch.
Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, recently called on David Cameron to take in 10,000 refugees. I am 100% behind her plans and call on the Prime Minister to act now rather than look on by as he has done all summer.
This is not an issue of being politically popular. It is our duty as a nation to look after human beings, provide refuge for those who need it, and to do everything we can to help put an end to this humanitarian disaster.
Save the Children are running a Syria Crisis Appel. Donations can be made here: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us/emergencies/syria-appeal?sourcecode=A12022054&utm_campaign=syria&utm_medium=ppc&utm_source=pss1&sissr=1
Paula Sherriff MP is launching a competition to identify Dewsbury constituency’s best export, which will be showcased alongside the best exports of other parliamentary constituencies as part of the Exported by Britain Campaign.
“Exported by Britain” is a campaign jointly run by the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG) and the All-Party Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group (APDIG). The APDIG and APMG will expand on the success of their previous project, Made by Britain, which asked MPs to nominate an object or product manufactured in their constituencies. It attracted over 300 nominations from across the country.
The government has been repeatedly warned that it will miss its target of doubling exports to £1 trillion by 2020. A recent warning from the Cross-Party Public Accounts Committee on 17th January suggested that the UK’s export economy is lagging behind its French and German competitors partly because SME’s here are not receiving adequate support from the government.
Paula said: "The Dewsbury constituency is rich in manufacturing and innovation. I have had the pleasure of visiting many of our small and medium enterprises (SME’s) but there are many more that I would like to visit in the coming months. I am looking to nominate a manufacturing or creative industries export for the @exportedbybritain campaign. Our SME’s need to be put on the map and their voice heard by a government who is not doing enough to support them."
Paula Sherriff, MP for the Dewsbury constituency, has criticised retailers operating in hospitals who are charging up to 90% more for various items than in their high street stores.
It has been revealed that high street traders such as Marks & Spencer and WH Smith, who have stores in hospitals all over the country, are ripping off patients and hospital visitors. Recent research showed that items such as bottled water, sandwiches and stationary are considerably more expensive in hospital stores in comparison to the same items on the High Street. For example a 750ml bottle of water costing £1.00 in a WH Smith store in Leeds City Centre is marked at £1.89 at Pinderfields Hospital.
Paula who has recently launched a campaign for Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to drop proposals to charge Blue Badge holders for parking said:
“I will be raising this issue in parliament when I return after recess. It’s a case of the most vulnerable being exploited once again. Nobody chooses to be in hospital, either as a patient or visiting a loved one, and these retailers are taking advantage of a captive audience.”
The Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospital Trust commented to the BBC that pricing policy was a commercial decision by WH Smith.
Paula said “I am not accepting that the Trust should wash its hands of this issue. Whilst the retailers are a private entity the Trust should take responsibility when issuing contracts on how these companies operate.”
The company with the largest apprenticeship scheme in our region welcomed Paula for a tour of their factory this week.
Roman Blinds Direct received an award from Kirklees Council earlier this year in recognition of their unrivalled work in giving local young people a first step on the career ladder.
The company’s spokesman said: “It was brilliant to have Paula on site, chatting with our apprentices and seeing the operation in action. She seemed really passionate about what we’re doing here. It’s great to have our local MP so enthusiastic about our business!”
Paula spoke with members of staff during her visit:
"I was pleased to attend the impressive premises of Interior Goods Direct at Grange Moor yesterday. This business started off as a small enterprise and now employs nearly 200 staff as one of the UK's leading blinds manufacturers.
“I was delighted to hear that the company are making significant investment into our young people by offering quality apprenticeships and was able to chat with some of those apprentices during my visit."
"Offering apprenticeships is key. It's important that all young people are working towards their vocation, rather than just university."
“It is crucial that apprenticeships are quality, and that people are learning about all aspects of the business, going forward, we are returning to young people going into more and more apprentices and learning valuable skills.”
“Apprenticeships offer support and advice, and are the link between employers and young people. They are bridging the gap between young people and businesses.
“I left school when I was 18 and got a job. I’ve worked in the police and as a Victim Support officer and in the Health Service. I have a strong work ethic.”
“I’m always in awe of the fine work of businesses like this one.”
Let’s put an end to foul pay in football and in every workplace!
The football season kicked off this weekend all over the country. We all know that footballers, particularly in the Premiership, get paid some astronomical salaries. Each year there is much speculation around the transfer deals and salaries being offered, but little does anyone question the working conditions of those behind the scenes of a club, in the office, the catering staff or those staffing the turnstiles.
Some may know that I am a proud Trade Unionist, which is why last weekend I was delighted to have been invited to a five a side football match sponsored by my Union, the GMB. The event was designed to highlight the "End Foul Pay" campaign amongst football league clubs.
It is estimated that there are around 450,000 people in Yorkshire earning less than the living wage and it is therefore vital that these clubs set an example, particularly to our young people, and pay the grounds staff, catering staff, office staff etc a fair days pay for a fair days work. After all, the football matches wouldn't go ahead without their input.
An Early Day Motion 355 has been submitted that I have signed. It calls on all football league clubs to pay their staff a living wage.
Obviously it’s not just football clubs who are not paying a fair wage to their employees. It is an issue all over the country in the private and public sector. Kirklees has one of the highest proportions of people earning below the living wage in the whole of Yorkshire & the Humber.
Woman and part time workers are disproportionately affected. 26% of jobs held by woman and 42% held by part time workers pay less than the living wage. This only adds to the misery of many women who are already losing thousands of pounds in tax credit cuts.
A living wage benefits everyone in society. Better pay means the welfare bill is reduced, employers benefit through staff loyalty and higher productivity and the economy grows due to people having more money to spend.
Government departments and local authorities need to set a bench mark and be living wage employers. Currently there are just 82 councils in England and Wales paying or committed to paying their staff a living wage. If local authorities pay their staff a living wage and have policies in place ensuring the procurement of services of companies they commission pay a living wage then living standards will rise.
Better pay and working conditions from rights to paid holiday, maternity leave and ending child labour are all things we benefit from thanks to the Trade Union movement. This government is determined to destroy that. Trade Unions represent everyday workers and fight for a fair deal in the work place. As a committed Trade Unionist I will fight tooth and nail against the Trade Union Bill which is the biggest attack on workers’ rights in a generation. I will always fight for fair pay and the rights of workers.
Paula's open letter to Stephen Eames (Mid Yorks NHS Trust) regarding the closure of the Coronary Care Unit at Dewsbury Hospital
Last week Paula met with her local Dewsbury Barclays Bank branch to discuss a number of issues. Topics discussed were an apprenticeship scheme, paying the living wage, and investment in small and medium enterprises to help rejuvenate Dewsbury town centre.
Before the General Election, the Chancellor said that within 100 days of a Conservative Government, Dewsbury would become an Enterprise Zone. Dewsbury becoming an Enterprise Zone means that new businesses and businesses that choose to move premises will be exempt from paying business rates for 5 years.
Paula said, “It is now 90 days since the election, so the Government has 10 more days to fulfil this pledge, and yet there has been no sign of progress. The local Dewsbury branch of Barclays are ready and willing to help Dewsbury town centre, I just hope the government don’t let us down again. I will continue to push the Chancellor to make good on his promise.”
Paula has written an open letter to Stephen Eames, Chief Exec of Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust expressing her disappointment over the handling of the changes to parking charges.
The changes which came into force on Saturday 1 August will see parking charges rise, payment to be made on exit and most controversially the implementation of charges to disabled blue bade holders. Local MPs and the media were only alerted of the changes less than 48 hours before they came into force meaning that most patients would not have been aware prior to attending the hospital this weekend.
Paula commented: “I am extremely disappointed by the manner in which I was informed of these changes. To receive information such as this, which will have a huge impact on many of my constituents, with less than 48 hours’ notice is completely unacceptable.
“I have requested a meeting with the Chief Executive of the Trust and have let my feelings known on how the situation has been handled. I do not support the implementation of hospital parking charges for blue badge holders regardless of the Trust’s deficit.”
You can read the content of Paula’s letter to Stephen Eames here: