I was disturbed to hear that patients who are sent to hospital by their GPs have to pay for a taxi to return home. When that includes elderly patients on a state pension it is very worrying. This is an issue, which I shall be raising with the hospitals. It sounds like the start of charging patients to me.
I also met a constituent who has had to pay big increases in charges for her care at home. She told me that she can only just afford the increases. My question to the Prime Minister is whether he really plans to charge people for their health care and what will happen to those people who can’t afford to pay. It sounds like health is already being privatised on the quiet.
The closure of the Crosby coastguard station was again a subject, which I raised in Parliament. This time, my colleague, Katy Clark had a debate on the future of Greenock coastguard station, which like Crosby is under threat as a result of government plans to cut the cost of the service.
Greenock coastguard serves the Clyde, like the Mersey a very busy and expanding port. As with the Mersey, the Clyde has many smaller vessels who don’t have lots of technology and so won't be able to take advantage of the new coastguard system which will be run through two centres, one in Southampton and one in Aberdeen. These will probably work for big ships but be hopeless for fishing boats or pleasure craft. These smaller boats rely on the local knowledge and expertise of local coastguards who know the area and know the rescue services and who to call to get help as fast as possible.
These are points, which my colleagues and I have repeatedly raised with ministers. It seems that Crosby is set to close unless there is a major u-turn by the government. That’s why I have arranged a further debate in parliament to discuss the impact of the cuts on all the emergency services. The reason for this debate is to look at what the effect of the cuts will be on the police, fire service and ambulance service.
If Crosby coastguard closes who will carry out the work they currently do? Who will patrol the beaches and watch the coastline?
The police face the loss of 800 officers across Merseyside and a further 600 community support officers. With such cuts, my very real fear is that public safety will suffer around the coast. If the police put extra officers on duty around the coast, who will keep the community safe elsewhere?
The impact of the closure of the coastguard really has not been considered.
You can’t put a price on safety but, the government appears not to have thought through the impact of the coastguard closure just as they haven’t considered the impact of the NHS changes. That’s why I shall continue to pursue both these issues and many others in Parliament.