December 17, 2013

Bill Esterson



This could be a really tough winter for our A&E in Merseyside. We have already seen many of the warning signs through an unprecedented summer A&E crisis which does not bode well for this coming winter. 

That’s why I will be making a special visit to both Southport and Aintree University Hospital  A&E to see at firsthand how the staff are coping with what is predicted to be a very challenging winter period.

It’s clear that responsibility for this situation lies with David Cameron. Before the General Election he promised to protect the NHS. But as we all know instead his Government has cut 6,642 nurses and left the NHS reeling from a vast, top-down reorganisation that nobody wanted and nobody voted for. Now with the added pressures through winter A&E could be at breaking point. 

It just goes to show that you can’t trust David Cameron with the NHS.

It's clear that 2013 has been the worst year in A&E for at least a decade, with one million people waiting more than four hours to be seen and the first summer A&E crisis in living memory. 

The NHS stands in an even worse position than last year, with fewer nurses, fewer beds, a shortage of senior A&E doctors and social care support further reduced.

And the pressure on A&E has become even more intolerable since alternatives to casualty were taken away. The dismantling of NHS Direct, a trusted and established service, ranks as one of this Government’s worst acts of vandalism. The privatised 111 service has replaced nurses with call handlers and computers who too often send people to A&E unnecessarily.

There are also the deeper causes of the A&E crisis; the government's devastating cuts to budgets for social care mean fewer older people are getting the help they need to stay healthy and independent in their own homes.

Meanwhile, Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey has failed to challenge the energy companies to keep their prices down. This is despite meeting them a number of times in recent months.

His failure came to light in a written answer by Tory Energy Minister Michael Fallon. My colleague, Labour’s Derek Twigg had asked of Lib Dem Mr Davey, “At which meetings with the Big Six he asked them to not increase prices?”

Mr Fallon replied: “The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr Davey) has not held any meeting where he has asked energy companies to lower or not to increase their prices.”

It beggars belief that in all his meetings with the energy companies the Energy Secretary Ed Davey has not once asked them to cut their prices. At the very least he could have asked them not to increase their prices any more. 

It’s no surprise the energy companies think they can get away with outrageous price hikes this winter, when both the Tories and the Lib Dems completely fail to challenge them.

And remember, we have just seen eye-watering price rises averaging 9% from the Big Six suppliers – British Gas, E.ON, EDF, Npower, SSE and Scottish Power.

It has always been clear that the Tory half of the coalition government are only interested in supporting a few big businesses, while most ordinary people and small businesses are struggling with a cost of living crisis, especially when it comes to high energy bills. 

But people who voted Lib Dem expected better than this. 

Ed Davey’s failure to even ask the energy companies to keep prices down shows that the Lib Dem half of the government are standing up for the energy companies at the same time as they are propping up a Tory government.