With patients being asked to stay away from Hereford A&E, and dying after hours left in corridors in Worcester, local healthcare is in crisis. Hereford hospital is too small, its management recently taken over by South Warwickshire, a move which Jesse Norman MP said in November ought to be halted while consultation took place. I agree with him on this, but there are underlying issues which he ought to be addressing.
He is a Minister in a government which has underfunded, disorganised and is privatising our precious NHS, and has demoralised its wonderful staff. Respected aid agency the Red Cross describes the situation as a ‘humanitarian crisis’.
Local people need to be confident that government will provide us with a health service that is fit for purpose and does not lurch from crisis to crisis every winter.
We want a publicly funded, publicly run and publicly accountable NHS for our families and communities. The government’s wasteful privatisation agenda is not supported by the public
My party is committed to reinstating the NHS as a public service without privatisation and marketisation, where funding pays for healthcare and doesn’t inflate the profits of private businesses.
The news that Herefordshire Council has again failed to get funding to progress a bypass should make us all stop to think. Do we want to solve our traffic problems right now, or would we prefer to suffer another 20 years in traffic jams as we wait for them to find the money?
Most of Hereford’s traffic is internal. Half of all Hereford’s car journeys are less than 2 miles long. We could now switch our efforts to dealing with internal traffic and the 2 mile journeys which would never use a bypass anyway. This is much easier, faster and cheaper to fix.
This isn’t about forcing everyone to use a bike either. Just a small reduction in internal traffic could make the rest of it flow freely, as it does in school holidays.
Our politicians haven’t managed to deliver a bypass for decades. Do we trust them to deliver in the next 5 years when government won’t even fund a survey? Why are we still waiting? Why not solve our traffic issues now? A city wide 20MPH limit along with a proper well designed bike network, free school buses and better pedestrian facilities would make it easier and safer for our children to get to school and all of us to walk or cycle every now and then.
With air pollution a major factor in ill health for both young and old, even a small reduction in traffic volumes could reduce pressure on our underfunded NHS too, by making us all a little bit fitter, healthier and happier. We could start right now, but we need councillors who ‘get it’.
It’s good to read in Bill Wiggin’s ‘Talking Point’ last week that he wants to stop our money being wasted on agency staff in the NHS. I agree with him that ‘it is important that the NHS is able to manage its staffing budget and is not privatised by agencies who pay far higher rates’. However, it is not agencies who are privatising the NHS, it is his own party! Many Herefordians are disappointed to see the support Bill, and Jesse Norman, have given over the years to the Government’s starving of our precious health service, and encouragement of wasteful internal markets.
Do we want Herefordshire to go the way of Bath and North East Somerset, where Virgin Care are now running NHS and social care services? Where do we want our taxes to end up – in a nurse’s pocket or in Richard Branson’s tax haven? The NHS is in serious danger, and to protect it as a public service, not a profit opportunity for big business, we have to challenge this Conservative obsession with breaking up and selling off our assets and services. It’s sad to see Bill and Jesse sharing this ideology, and I would like to remind them that Herefordshire is not for sale, the UK is not a business, and we are citizens not consumers. Some things, like the NHS, are priceless.
Now the Brexit dust is settling, what does it mean for Herefordshire?
The fact is, no-one knows, and we are left feeling a little confused and uncertain.
But we can start by refusing the label ‘divided society’, and celebrate what we have in common, our caring communities, our beautiful countryside, our public services.
We can engage in the decisions that affect our lives by keeping an eye on what our politicians are up to: in Westminster, voting for nuclear weapons and against fairer voting systems; locally, voting for a pointless road, not protecting our rivers from pollution, and cutting vital bus services (sorry – ‘savings’, not cuts!).
Politics shouldn’t be something done to us from London – voting on June 23rd was a political act, so let’s keep going! If we ‘want our country back’ let’s stop selling it off to big business; let’s not allow it to be blasted by fracking!
Since June 24th we know how it feels to participate in a democratic process where every vote counts. Wouldn’t it be nice if that applied to all elections? If you agree, join the growing movement for proportional representation, so that all our voices can be heard.