Friday, 29 August 2014

999 CALL for NHS | Letter of support

To welcome the 999 CALL for NHS march to Leicester on Saturday (30th August) Labour MPs, Councillors, members, supporters and campaigners from Leicester and Leicestershire have published a letter of support.

The 'Darlo Mums' are marching symbolically from Jarrow to London and are attracting strong support in towns and cities along their march. On Saturday the march will set off from Loughborough and will arrive in Leicester at around 4:30pm. The following day the march will depart for Market Harborough.

A rally will be held in Town Hall Square at 5:15pm on Saturday to welcome the marchers. If you care about our NHS and want to voice your opposition to the governments destruction of our health service please come along. 

You can read the full text of the letter and list of signatories here.

It has been signed by over 100 people including Leicester's Labour MPs Jon Ashworth, Liz Kendall and Keith Vaz; City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby; Deputy City Mayor Rory Palmer; Labour Parliamentary Candidates for constituencies in Leicestershire Matthew O'Callaghan, Jamie McMahon, Amanda Hack, Sundip Meghani & Sean Kelly-Walsh; East Midlands Labour MEP Glenis Willmott; Labour City and County Councillors; representatives of local Labour Constituency Parties; trade union activists; members of the local Campaign Against NHS Privatisation; and many more.

More letters added to the letter of support, which can be read here.
Leicester Mercury coverage of the rally in Town Hall Square can be read here.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Leicester Pride 2014

I am looking forward to this year’s Leicester Pride, which is always an excellent event. I want to congratulate the Pride Committee for their hard work and determination in organising this year’s event. Pride is a powerful and vibrant illustration of Leicester’s diversity and the strength we draw as a city from that diversity. Pride also serves as an important reminder of the importance of the continuing campaigns for equality here and in other parts of the world. I send my best wishes to everyone attending this year’s Leicester Pride.

Opening Leicester Pride 2012

Morally wrong to make patients pay for hospital parking

Article for LabourList.
Over the Bank Holiday weekend the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was trumpeting his new ‘ground rules’ to address rip-off hospital car parking. Any action to curb extortionate car parking prices at hospitals should be welcomed. However, reading these new ‘principles’ it appears they are not enforceable.
My assumption was confirmed when the Department of Health answered a tweet from me by stating that NHS Trusts will be held accountable to local people and organisations that represent them e.g. HealthWatch. This confirms that the new guidelines amount to little more than a press release. It seems that hospital trusts will be free to continue charging high prices for parking.
It is morally wrong for patients with chronic conditions attending hospital for treatment sometimes on a daily basis, and visitors, to be worrying about paying for parking. The NHS was built on the basis of treatment free at the point of access. Car parking costs contradict this and should be stopped. With many NHS trusts contracting out car parking services this is yet another example of profit over patients.
When patients have to worry about paying for parking when they attend for their treatment or when families struggle to visit loved ones in hospital because of parking charges something has gone badly wrong in our health service. The coalition government abandoned Labour’s plans to phase out hospital parking charges in 2010.
Hospital car parking prices have gone up at one in four hospitals under the Tory-led Government. Jeremey Hunt’s Bank Holiday press release does nothing to address this. We need action not words. I want to see legislation introduced to ban rip-off hospital parking and to introduce free parking at NHS hospitals for patients and visitors.
A future Labour government should act on day one to end rip-off hospital parking and set out plans to end parking charges at NHS hospitals.
This article first appeared on LabourList, 27 August 2014.