A pensioner couple told me about their terrible experience at accident and emergency recently. They had to wait for 10 hours to be treated.
I wondered if this was an isolated experience but then another pensioner called to tell me about a similar experience where they had to wait eight hours. These big increases in waiting times have happened very suddenly and I know that people are very concerned about changes at our hospitals and GP surgeries.
Another of my constituents told me that their mother had an operation last year on her left eye and was treated straight away. The level of care was fantastic. Then this year, her mum was due to have the same operation on her other eye. Suddenly, she was told that she would have to wait several months for the operation due to re-organisation of the department.
These experiences with the NHS are all too familiar for many people and are why we need to resist any plans to force people to pay for treatment instead of waiting for months or even years.
I was very concerned to hear from another constituent of plans to increase charges for prescriptions in Sefton. According to the Clinical Care Group in South Sefton, the Department of Health has changed the rules so that prescriptions are issued every 28 days instead of every three months. This has put up the cost for my constituent from £61 to £183 every three months as she has to pay for each prescription.
It looks like the cost of prescriptions is being passed on to patients and away from the NHS, a very worrying development for people especially those least able to afford to pay.
It was a big blow to hear that the economy went back into recession, the so-called double-dip recession. The word recession hides the fact that people are facing really tough times. People are losing their jobs and are worried about paying their mortgages or rent. Businesses are struggling and need every bit of help they can get.
That’s why I would like to see a cut in VAT. It would help businesses by putting money into the pockets of shoppers. It would help families by cutting the price of fuel and household goods. It would help commuters with the cost of travelling to work. All of this would help us move out or recession and start creating the jobs and growth we need.
Many people have asked me about the threat of development in our green belt. Residents tell me they are worried that our roads can barely cope with traffic levels now. The welcome news that the Thornton Relief Road will be started soon is going to help with those traffic levels but if developers build on green belt in Hightown and around Formby and Ince Blundell, the traffic levels would go through the roof and even the new road would struggle to cope.
Then there is the impact on schools, doctors and shops. And of course we would lose some of the best farm land in the country.
That’s why I am supporting the new Campaign Alliance for the Protection of the Environment, which has just set up in Sefton.
Changes to planning rules will mean that developers will be able to win planning appeals because they have the money for legal battles. That’s why it's so important to work together to defend our communities across Central Sefton.