NHS and Social Care
Nearly two-thirds of Sheffield Central residents rated the NHS as one of their biggest concerns, in my 2017 Big Conversation survey. It’s clear there are considerable worries about what the Government is doing to our health service. I share these concerns and have raised many health issues in Parliament. The crisis is not inevitable. It’s the result of the wrong political choices and I’ve called for the Government to reverse tax cuts to provide the money the NHS needs. I also pressed the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to address the £571 million funding shortfall for health and social care services in South Yorkshire.
I have urged Health Ministers to take action to improve access to GP surgeries, highlighting local people’s concerns around long waiting times. I’ve also worked with local GP practices that were threatened with closure as a result of Government phasing out funding for supporting practices in more deprived areas. I raised this issue with the Prime Minister in Parliament, brought local doctors and patient representatives to meet Ministers and will continue campaigning on the issue.
I meet regularly with the Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is the GP-led organisation that commissions healthcare provision for the city.
Five of Sheffield’s six NHS hospitals are in my constituency and I meet regularly with the Chair and Chief Executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust, and the Chief Executive of the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Trust, which is one of only four specialist children’s hospital trusts in the UK. I’ve pressed concerns on the length of hospital stays and the Coalition Government’s controversial reorganisation of the NHS in Parliament. The Government gave extra cash to Sheffield Children’s Hospital (for which I’ve raised funds), after I called for this in Parliament.
I’m a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Motor Neurone Disease, on which the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) does world-leading research.
I have pressed Ministers for parity of esteem between physical and mental health in allocating resources, as well as challenging Ministers on funding cuts and warning the Government that Theresa May’s warm words about tackling the mental health crisis mean little without greater investment in services. In a debate in Parliament I have raised the concerns of young people who are waiting too long to receive the mental health support they need.
I’ve been working closely with Manor-based SHINE Health Academy on tackling child obesity, bringing staff and young people to Parliament to talk to MPs about their experiences and ideas about tackling the crisis. I was pleased that their concerns were reflected in the recent Health and Social Care Select Committee report into child obesity.
NHS staff make our health service the success story it is. In Parliament, I challenged former PM David Cameron over his Government’s failure to award recommended pay rises to hard-pressed NHS workers, backed junior doctors in their contract dispute, spoke at an RCN rally on nurses pay and supported calls for the pay cap for NHS staff to be lifted.
The NHS crisis has been deepened by the massive Government cuts to local councils which provide social care. There is also an unequal distribution of funding for adult social care, which is creating a crisis for cities like Sheffield, and I have challenged Ministers on the impact on GP practices, as well as adding to pressure on our hospitals.
Much of the responsibility for social care falls on families, who provide extraordinary support for loved ones. I am an Ambassador for Sheffield Carers Centre and a Patron for Sheffield Young Carers – two great local organisations that I meet frequently to listen to their concerns. I brought a group of young carers to meet the Prime Minister to discuss how the Government can ensure they get better support and the Government’s new carers plan includes some of the issues they raised.
Reducing budgets has also hit those who work in social care. In Parliament I have spoken out about the scandal of illegal pay in the care sector where hundreds of thousands of care workers are paid below the minimum wage. I’ve met with Ministers to make the case for practical changes to end these practices, and I’ll keep pressing on it.
This is a selection of my work on these issues. Please get in touch if you want to find out more.