Brexit has been divisive in our communities and has cost our economy an estimated £600 million a week, making the total cost in excess of £90 billion, which is far in excess of what we pay to the EU. A No Deal Brexit would cause severe damage to UK businesses and some have already suffered losses. The NHS has lost many workers who have not felt their future is secure. One in ten clinical posts in the NHS is currently vacant and loss of EU workers has contributed to this as well as the strength of the euro against the pound. Farmers are struggling to find workers that have traditionally come from Eastern Europe.
Labour accepted the result of the 2016 referendum. In our 2017 manifesto however, Labour committed to oppose a No Deal Brexit and the Conservatives Brexit plans – which threatened jobs, living standards, and the open multicultural society that we value so much.
When I have been out canvassing in St Austell and Newquay people who voted leave have said if Remain had won then there would not have been any suggestion of a second referendum and we would have remained. I think this may be a true observation, but it is also worth pointing out that leaving with No Deal was not on the ballot paper.
The shadow Brexit team held the Government to account during the process. This helped secure a meaningful vote on their deal, which was then defeated three times, including inflicting the largest ever defeat on any Government. And following their refusal to publish their legal advice, this Government became the first to be held in contempt of Parliament.
Labour set out a compromise plan to try to bring the country together based around a customs union, a strong single market relationship and protection of environmental regulations and rights at work. This is a sensible alternative that could bring the country together.
But the Prime Minister refused to compromise and was unable to deliver, so we ended cross-party talks.
Now the new Prime Minister is threatening a No Deal Brexit, or at best a race to the bottom and a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump: that runs down industry, opens up our NHS and other public services to yet more privatisation, and shreds environmental protections, rights at work and consumer standards.
I do not think anyone in this country wants to accept the US food standards with its chlorinated chicken, its higher antibiotic use in animals, its use of growth hormones in animal feed, and GM foods sold without labelling. Our farmers pride themselves on fresh healthy produce and good animal husbandry.
A No Deal would bring an estimated £20 billion increase in custom costs. These increased costs will lead to UK goods becoming uncompetitive.
The consequences of a No Deal Brexit will have a devastatingly detrimental effect on Ireland and will require a trade border to be established. This is seen as a route to a return of the Troubles in Ireland and not to be countenanced after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 which has achieved peace after decades of violence and turmoil.
The new Prime Minister should have the confidence to put their deal, or No Deal, back to the people in a public vote.
In those circumstances, Labour would campaign for Remain against either No Deal or a Conservative deal that does not protect the economy and jobs.
Labour has a crucial, historic duty to safeguard jobs, rights and living standards. But no Brexit outcome alone can do that.
We need a general election. After nine years of austerity, too many people in this country cannot find decent secure well-paid work, and have to rely on public services that have been severely cut back.
Our country is ravaged by inequality and rising poverty, huge regional imbalances of investment, and the government is failing to tackle the climate emergency facing us all.
That is why we need a Labour government to end austerity and rebuild our country for the many not the few.
This week I want to write about a subject that is becoming ever more critical for us all each day that passes. Action needs to be taken urgently on the environment and climate change.
Energy bills have increased, important energy projects have stalled and we are on course to miss important climate change targets thanks to this government. Labour will stand up for the many by reforming the energy market to keep bills down. We will build a fairer Britain by investing in the infrastructure to safeguard our future energy needs and to provide the jobs of the future.
Instead of investing in renewables the Tories have instead decided to press ahead with fracking, even allowing it under National Parks. The United Kingdom is now on course to miss carbon reduction targets and a legally binding 15 percent renewable target by 2020. Labour will stand up for the many by keeping bills down and investing in the energy solutions of the future. I know that Labour will cap average dual-fuel household energy bills at £1,000 a year to protect consumers and to limit price increases.
Labour will take energy back into public ownership to make our energy work for consumers, including supporting the creation of publicly owned, locally accountable energy companies and co-operatives to rival existing private energy suppliers, with at least one in every region. The Labour Party backs new nuclear and an expansion of renewable and low-carbon technologies to safeguard our energy security and meet our climate change targets.
Labour would introduce a commitment to get 60 per cent of our energy from low carbon or renewable sources by 2030.
Air quality improved under the last Labour Government but the Tories have failed to keep this improvement going and have been sued and lost three times in the courts, wasting taxpayers’ money in the process.
I want us to see the introduction of a new Clean Air Act for a common set of air standards across the country.
Over four million UK households (more than one in ten) were recorded as being in fuel poverty in 2014 and the Government is on course to miss its 2030 fuel poverty target. I welcome the recent action taken by Cornwall Council in declaring a climate change emergency and its subsequent actions to help spread the climate change emergency message to communities and to discuss ways to help.
Doing nothing is not an option. We need to act now.
In a recent Environment Agency report it was noted that “whole areas of England may have to be abandoned due to the threat of flooding caused by climate change. Communities near the coast or rivers could be forced to move as the country prepares to counter average global temperature rises of up to 4C”.
Each of our communities needs to be informed and educated about what we can all do to help.
Felicity Owen column for 10th July 2019
Under the Tories our NHS is in crisis. Patients are waiting for hours in overcrowded A&Es, waiting lists are rising and hospitals are facing huge financial problems. Only Labour will stand up for the NHS. We will always give the NHS the money it needs and will join up services from home to hospital with a properly integrated health and social care service.
Hospitals are in financial crisis. Trusts ended the last year hundreds of millions of pounds in deficit.
Under the Tories, spending on mental health fell by £600m between 2010 and 2015 and there are over 5,000 fewer mental health nurses than in 2010.
They’ve got no plan to tackle the financial crisis facing the NHS and social care – their reorganisation of the NHS has put hospital units across the country at risk, while beds are cut, staff numbers reduced & treatments rationed to save money.
Labour will increase funding for the NHS by £30 billion per annum. Labour will halt and review the NHS sustainability and transformation plans, which are looking at closing health services across England, and ask local people to participate in the redrawing of plans with a focus on patient need rather than available finances.
We will create a new quality, safety and excellence regulator – to be called NHS Excellence. The next Labour government will reverse privatisation of our NHS and return our health service into expert public control.
Labour will boost capital funding for the NHS to ensure patients are cared for in buildings fit for the 21st Century.
Labour will stand up for patients’ rights to high quality care. We will treat one million people who are currently on growing waiting lists and guarantee that patients can be seen within four hours in A&E. Labour will put safe staffing levels into law. We will bring back the nursing bursary and train more doctors. We will make sure that mental health is given the same priority as physical health; Labour will ring-fence mental health budgets and ensure funding reaches the front-line.
NHS Kernow has finally got to a break-even position on its budget but still has an overhanging deficit of £87m from prior years. There is no current pressure to repay it but it is hanging over them. The CCG was told last week that the 3.4% annual increase in NHS funding for this financial year will come from the NHS capital budget and that their capital budget will reduce by 20% this year. The Conservatives have said they are increasing funding to the NHS by 20 billion pounds, but this is to be eked out over five years, and as the CCG has just found out, it is not new money but part of it will be coming from an already stretched budget. What a shameful con!
Treliske is struggling with workload and lack of funding. In month one of 2019 (April 2019) it is already in dire straits with funding. CQC ratings show it requires improvement, as does Derriford.
Three Community Hospitals have been closed, temporarily but all for 2 years or more and Edward Hain since March 2016. Will they ever reopen? Many are in a poor state of repair.
The real crisis, perhaps the worst of all, is in care home provision, especially for Dementia sufferers. Shortage of places and staff mean owners can change thresholds, so they often only take the people requiring less care. It is scandalous to treat our older people like this. The Conservative cuts have led to £4.6 billion lost from social care budgets despite rising demand. Around 1.2 million older people have care needs that are going unmet. Care in the community has become a cover for unseen neglect.
People living in St Austell are voicing concerns about St Austell Healthcare, the GP practice serving St Austell and nearby villages. If you are experiencing problems with accessing services with them, as many people have told me they are, I would encourage you to let them know as they want to provide a good service and would want to know. You can feedback direct to the practice both positive and negative views anonymously, to the patient participation group firstname.lastname@example.org or use the practices complaints procedure email@example.com or to the independent body Cornwall Healthwatch on 08000 381281.
Let’s return the NHS to Labour safe hands at the next election.
It’s great to see the warm weather return at last! This week I want to write about Education, both locally and nationally and ask whether or not our schools are being funded properly by the Conservatives? The answer is a definite NO. Nationally 91% of schools have had their pupil funding cut. For example Penrice Academy lose £715,675. I have been out campaigning with the local Labour Party members for some months now to get the message across that school cuts are damaging our children’s education.
As usual however, after denying that there was an issue, the Conservative Party have now realised that schools in Cornwall have been less well funded than schools in other parts of the country. Schools across the country have seen their funding cut. To get the full picture nationally please have a look at the website www.schoolcuts.org.uk
I have been really impressed by the schools in St Austell both in my work and as a parent. My daughter went to St Mewan and Penrice and both schools were excellent, the teachers superb and very often doing far more than their jobs called for. In many parts of the country we read that some teachers bring in extra food for children who arrive hungry at school. Funds are short and parents are often asked to help supplement what in the past would have been provided by schools. This cannot be right.
Labour will invest in schools and protect budgets. We will introduce a fair National Funding Formula in which no school loses out. We will reduce class sizes and introduce free school meals for primary schoolchildren.
If you feel like I do, that schools should not have their budgets cut please sign the St Austell and Newquay Labour Party petition at www.staustellandnewqauylabour.com
For many families finding money for new school uniforms is very tough. Start Clothing Bank St Austell has just put out a call for donations of school uniforms ready for the new term in September. If you can help please take your donations to the Swap Shop at 17 Duke St, St Austell, PL25 5PQ. It’s open Monday and Tuesday 9.30-15.30 and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 12-16.00.
Thankyou, I know that some of you will be able to help.
I also want to mention the charity Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change (CN4C), with whom I am a trustee. Sadly they have recently received a negative reaction in some quarters in connection with setting up at the Bank at the Bystro premises in High Cross St. CN4C work with residents and partners to transform disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
CN4C works across Cornwall delivering a range of services that help local people make a difference. This includes:
Employment support, Training, Youth Work, Community Development, Environmental projects, Play and Parenting programmes and holiday clubs.
We already have a clothing bank and a swap shop in St Austell, and it has been suggested we use the great space in the Bank as a re-use/recycle/upcycle centre, a library of things (where you can donate or borrow tools and equipment that you might need on an odd occasion but not want to buy), a training venue, taking forward plastic free St Austell, and maybe even the development of an advice centre and town centre venue for other groups. Its up to residents to say what would be most welcome and helpful.
It’s very early days yet but I think this initiative can only help everyone but particularly those in need. It’s good to see one of the towns empty premises being used too. If you would like to have your say you would be very welcome at any of the consultation events they will be holding over the summer and they will be advertised locally or email Clare at firstname.lastname@example.org to say what you think.
I think there are many people that want to help those in need and make St Austell a better place to live.
I am Felicity Owen and as reported in last week’s St. Austell Voice I am delighted to have been selected as the Labour Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for St Austell and Newquay (StaN). I just want to tell you a little about myself here in this new column, which I hope you will enjoy reading.
I am a lifelong Labour voter and I joined the party in 2017.
I was a member of the Royal College of Nursing Union from 1981 to 2015. I recently became a member of Unite. I am an active member of the StAN CLP and Branch and a member of the NHS group which campaigns against local Government cuts and privatisation.
I live in the area, I worked here and I now volunteer here and know what difficulties the government’s policies are having on local people.
I volunteer and am a trustee for St Austell Community Kitchen (STAK), a
charity which supports the vulnerable, needy and homeless. I help in the kitchen providing lunch for whoever needs it.
I’m also a trustee with Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change (CN4C) who started in Redruth but have been operating in St Austell for the last two years. They are in the process of setting up in the old Bystro at the Bank as a Community bank. If you are interested in helping with the new Community bank, please contact Clare Jones email@example.com
I will be standing for Labour at the next general election so between now and then I want to tell you how the Government’s policies are affecting us all.
The rich are richer and the poor are poorer, even people in work cannot afford to feed their families properly. Many have turned to foodbanks for help. St Austell Food Bank is a fantastic resource but they are running short of some items so please help if you can by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org to offer what you can.
They have run out of packet soup and pot noodles. They have a low stock of tins of meat, fish and soup. Shampoo and conditioner is needed as is dog food. They are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 13:00 to 15:00 and food can be dropped off between those times at the Light and Life Centre, Unit 4-5 Brunel Business Park, St. Austell PL25 4TJ.
I worked for the NHS for forty years and I am appalled that the Conservatives have removed the nursing bursary which has led to a fall in the number of people training to become nurses. The Tories constant drive to privatise our NHS is very worrying. The NHS was founded to be free at the point of delivery and it was the best Health service in the world, it must be kept that way.
As I’ve been talking to Labour members in St. Austell and Newquay, housing has been raised by most people as an issue needing urgent focus.
In STAK we see a lack of suitable housing for people in difficulty. There are issues of homelessness, lack of affordable housing, low stock of council houses, house prices so high that they exclude the low paid, second homes standing empty, other empty properties, lack of temporary accommodation, homes unfit for human habitation and unscrupulous landlords.
In Labour controlled councils like Plymouth, Nottingham, and Hackney council houses are being built. There are some council houses being built in Cornwall but very few and not enough to meet need. Let’s get more Labour Cornwall councillors and aim to make Cornwall Council Labour controlled & get a council house building programme underway to meet local need.
I will be writing about the many issues the Tory austerity policies are creating in our area and Cornwall as a whole so I would like to thank The Voice for giving me the opportunity to provide balance. Watch this space.
Felicity Owen: My first twenty days as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in St Austell & Newquay Constituency Labour Party
Day one started with a contact from the St Austell Voice which came through Andrea Lanxon, St Austell Town Councillor. A telephone interview followed by a photo shoot at the top of East Hill for a photo to go with the interview and for the top of the weekly column we’d asked for. We’ve since got a column in The Newquay Voice and the first column will be on the 10th July. We’ve mentioned austerity, a call for items for the foodbank in St Austell that were very low, education, supporting the new development at the Bank and the NHS will be the focus in this week’s column.
A press release drafted by Bill our press officer and edited by Matt from the Labour Regional Office and myself was sent out by Region.
I’ve Contacted with Catherine West MP to take her up on her offer of canvassing training for us here in STAN, and Mike Chapman, chair of Truro and Falmouth CLP to see if he could give us some training on the doorstep app. Both agreed and dates are to be confirmed.
I’ve asked Unite, the Union I belong to, if they would sponsor any of our campaign literature and they’ve agreed. We’ve also had a £3000 donation from a local member to kick off the first leaflet for all voters in StAN. The fundraising group have also been very busy and this will all help to deliver the long campaign plan that Ryan and I have agreed. Ryan has also drafted a snap election plan so we can be ready for any eventuality. It seems like we shall have a general election in October so we have a lot to do to get ready.
Tim Jones has volunteered to be my agent and I’m delighted. Kay has started my initial blog on our StAN Labour website. I’ve got a new email for PPC business which is email@example.com and I’ve just set up a new Facebook page where I’ll post what I’ve been up to. I’ve been registered to use Organise, the party’s volunteer management and communications tool, and Lesley has kindly been giving me some training on getting my first all member message out, which went out on Sunday 7th July.
I was asked for a quote by Graham Smith from Cornwall Reports on the potential Spaceport at Newquay which will be a Branson led initiative of firing commercial satellites into orbit. I am struggling to see how the spaceport will balance with Cornwall Councils zero carbon target by 2030 but appreciate we need all the work opportunities we can. At the moment they have one employee.
We had a very interesting meeting at the Bystro at the Bank in St Austell on the 28th June, called by Graham Walker, Town Councillor and Tarn Lamb from Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change (Cn4C) and a group of interested parties (mostly Labour members). Cn4C have taken on the lease of the Old Bank in High Cross St with an option to buy and they want to hear from the community about what they want to take place there to improve things for people in St Austell. Before it has even started our current MP, Steve Double, has criticised the project. He is wrong to do so on so many levels. It has the potential to help so many people and provide a welcome positive focus in the town. There will be consultation events across the summer.
I went to the STARR event which was held on the 28 & 29th June which was the multi-agency presentation of the works to prevent future flooding in St Blazey and Par. All the agencies bar SW Water were present. The work still has to secure EU finding but should make an enormous difference to residents who have suffered from many floods and their associated problems. The work should be completed by 2023.
I attended a meeting of the Keep our NHS Public Cornwall group on Sunday 30th June. It was a very helpful meeting and well worth attending. The next meeting with be held in Lostwithiel at The Platform at 13:30 on the 21st July. Everyone is welcome so if you are interested in the NHS this is a very good albeit non-political group to be a part of.
I attended the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny meeting at Cornwall Council on the 3rd July primarily to hear the discussion on integrated care services. The NHS sub group of the CLP, that Sharon Sisson chairs, and I’m a member of, have had long held concerns about what started out as accountable care organisations, then changed in name to integrated care services. At present the CCG are saying it is about integrating health and social care, which is a good thing, with a view to all providers sharing one contract and one budget and keeping this all in the NHS, but the models are very close to Health Care as it’s provided in the US. One to keep a watching eye on.
Other items of particular interest on the agenda were:-
The meeting started with a question from a member of the public about why as a friend of the hospital and belonging to a patient participation group they hadn’t been involved in any of the meetings about its future.
There is a public meeting about the Hospital on the 8th July and CPFT are looking at ways to deliver an overnight service despite having insufficient staff, and they have been advertising.
Scrutiny have asked for a letter to go to the Secretary of State about the lack of NHS dentistry but will collate facts first. Information was presented on NHS dentistry in Cornwall which is provided to 51% of the population and 60% of children in Cornwall which is very slightly above the national average. Scrutiny were concerned about the NHS dentistry contract and how it doesn’t pay dentists to deliver it, to such an extent dentists hand back commissioned hours which NHS England say require 30 full time dentists to deliver and this would meet the waiting list for people wanting NHS dentists. It is however very difficult to find dentists and Brexit and the strong Euro are reducing the number of dentists from Eastern Europe who have made up numbers of dentists previously. The committee were very concerned about the direct correlation between inequalities and decayed, missing & filled teeth in children and the number of children having extractions under general anaesthetic. Further research will be coming back to Scrutiny.
SW Ambulance Services
Info was presented on category one ambulances times which are highly variable across Cornwall. St Austell has the largest number of call outs (largest population) with the best response times. Newquay has slightly fewer call outs but is still in the top five areas with the highest number of call outs and an average response time of seven minutes. The committee wanted more information about other categories of calls having heard people with broken legs fell into category two and reports of people waiting four hours or more to be taken to hospital. They also wanted more information than averages on responder times.
All the Scrutiny papers can be found on Cornwall Council’s website.
In the evening Lesley Rikard and I went to the Green Industrial Revolution (GIR) meeting in Redruth, where we joined members from the Camborne, Redruth and Hayle CLP, St Ives CLP, Truro & Falmouth CLP and ourselves from St Austell and Newquay CLP. The meeting was a follow up to the GIR conference on the 22nd June. CRH CLP have the support of the community organiser Katherine See and some work had already taken place since the conference to choose a priority before the meeting which was focused on a local issue in Hayle. However, what they have chosen is something about which we also have an issue in StAN. I’ll share more when I’m able to.
On the 4th July I went for a visit with Mandy Gregory, parish councillor St Enoder, to the incinerator at St Dennis. It’s an amazing piece of engineering with furnaces getting to 1000°C. The resulting ash is used for aggregate. Visits are free and they have a good interactive education section for schools. It was disappointing to see how many black bags contained items that could be recycled. Suez, who run the plant, say things that could be recycled make up about 22% of what comes into the plant. The Environment Agency monitor the output from the chimneys. I would be interested to know how local people feel about the incinerator now it’s up been and running for a while.
I gave a talk to the St Austell Branch of the CLP on the NHS and the issues it is facing due to the Conservative and Coalition underfunding. I will share a summary of the talk separately. We need a Labour government to get the NHS back on its feet, properly fund it and reverse the privatisation that’s been encouraged.
Issues that arose during the questions at the end of my talk were a lot of concerns about the care people are personally getting from St Austell Healthcare, the long wait to speak to a doctor sometimes as long as seven days, prescriptions being sent to the wrong surgery, and the difficulty of being triaged by someone without any clinical experience. Another issue was for people with long term conditions, many of whom were finding that health issues were being blamed on their long-term conditions and not being investigated or listened to properly.
We always need new members in the NHS sub group so if you are interested have a chat with Sharon or myself.
I’ve joined the CLP executives meeting group and we had a very exciting meeting talking about the snap election plan and the long campaign.
Continue with the weekly columns.
Continue to visit places of interest and impact on residents and attend meetings of relevance to people in StAN.
Attend CLP branch meeetings
Draft candidacy leaflets for the long campaign.
Former Director of Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly chosen as Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for St. Austell and Newquay.
Felicity Owen was selected as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for St. Austell and Newquay on Sunday 16th June at an All Members’ Meeting held in St. Stephen in Brannel.
Felicity was selected by the members after four candidates took part in a hustings based on the Question Time format, where each of them answered selected questions on a wide variety of topics and also took questions from the floor.
Felicity is a former Director of Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Her role was to improve the health of the population and to tackle inequalities in health; she started her career as a nurse, became a renal nurse and a health visitor.
Felicity spoke of her determination to begin campaigning and canvassing to get the Labour Party message out to the people of St. Austell and Newquay that the Tories are failing the people of Cornwall and indeed the nation.
Speaking shortly after the hustings Felicity said:
"I am delighted to have been selected and I promise to work hard to get a Labour government into power. I want to see an end to austerity and see that the NHS and education are in safe hands. There must be no more privatisation of public services and serious action needs to be taken to tackle the climate crisis."
Dear St Austell and Newquay Labour Party Members,
I am delighted to have been selected as the Labour Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for St Austell & Newquay.
I am passionate about getting a socialist government in power and to have a Labour MP in St Austell and Newquay. We deserve so much better than what we have locally and nationally.
I will campaign and canvas tirelessly. I will listen to your views. I will march, campaign, petition, lobby, demonstrate and canvas until Labour is elected. I am determined, hardworking, live in and know the area and services & have experience of the media.
I want to speak to every member about what you want from me and what your concerns and issues are. If you’d like to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.
I started volunteering at Spitalfields Crypt, a service for homeless men and street drinkers when I was a student nurse in Whitechapel. I trained as a general nurse and developed an interest in prevention and tackling inequalities. I did further study and worked in renal nursing, as a ward sister, in health visiting, lecturing, health promotion and public health. I was Director of Public Health (DPH) from 2005 firstly for StAN then after the merger of the three Primary Care Trusts in Cornwall was successful in becoming the DPH for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in 2006 until 2014. This was a joint appointment with Cornwall County Council (subsequently Cornwall Council). I feel privileged to have been DPH and made a difference to people living in poverty and hardship. Evidence of the depth and breadth of the work I led on can be viewed at https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/public-health-cornwall/public-health-legacy-document/ I have a lot of media experience and have built trust with local radio, TV and press, who know me as an honest and reliable source. I am a skilled communicator, am hard-working, enthusiastic, and have expertise in planning, evaluation and assessment. I am a democratic leader, proficient at consensus building, creating action and developing others. I enjoy helping solve issues with people, in particular those who are in difficulty. I worked for the NHS & Councils for 40 years putting socialist values into practice. I was a member of the Royal College of Nursing Union from 1981 to 2015. I recently become a member of Unite. I am a lifelong Labour voter and joined the party in 2017 as I was enthused by the manifesto, and a return to grass roots socialism. I am an active member of the StAN CLP and Branch and a member of the NHS group who campaign against local cuts and privatisation. We’ve had some success in delaying the closure of community hospitals and the introduction of an accountable care organisation but there is much more to do against the insidious privatisation of the NHS and to many of our other valued services.
My commitment to you as your PPC and next Member of Parliament:
The loss of Mevagissey Surgery would be an absolute tragedy for an entire community and particularly for those in greatest need. That is why it is important to understand the national context of how this crisis has been created.
Since the Coalition Government’s catastrophic 2012 Health and Social Care Act, more than 1100 GP practices covering 4.2m people, have closed or merged. That is one in eight. The sharp fall in practice numbers - along with a 6% rise in patients registered with a GP - has seen the average practice list size increase by 22%. GP numbers have fallen by 4% and their workloads are becoming unsustainable. The Royal College of GP’s say that the health service in England is 6,000 doctors short of what it needs. Nine out of ten doctors (according to a huge BMA survey) believe the shortages are putting patient safety at risk. That is why it is difficult to recruit doctors. It has become as difficult to recruit nurses too, with 42000 vacancies in the UK.
When Woodland Road Surgery was closed by St Austell Healthcare over a year ago, the principle reason given was because of difficulties in recruiting new doctors. When I delivered a petition with over 1750 signatures protesting the closure of the surgery, NHS England, the unelected quango which now commissions the service, completely ignored it.
The closure of Woodland Road saw thousands of patients transferred to other surgeries and waiting (and travel) times inevitably increased. The crisis in healthcare is a direct consequence of this government’s triple-whammy. Firstly, despite hollow and misleading claims of, “record NHS spending,” the NHS has suffered the largest real-terms cuts to funding in its 71-year history. Secondly, it has endured the biggest reorganisation ever (despite promises not to) at a cost of over £1.5bn. Thirdly, ever increasing privatisation has inevitably has led to rising costs and poorer services.
No responsibility for this sorry state of affairs lies with the doctors, or any of the other staff at the Practice. They work longer hours than ever, yet continue to provide the very best service in increasingly difficult circumstances. It is important that we continue to support them in their efforts to keep the surgery open. At the same time the politicians, who are responsible for this mess, should be held accountable for their failure. It would at least be helpful if, rather than grandstanding and offering banal platitudes, they were to demonstrate some humility and maybe even a little contrition.
St Austell Town Councillor for Bethel Wardt Austell Town Councillor for Bethel Ward i
St Austell Town Councillor for Bethel Ward i
As we have not left the European Union, it is looking increasingly likely that we will be participating in the elections for the European Parliament on 23 May. The European Parliament co-writes legislation covering the 510 million people who live in the European Union nations and the EU budget. It also appoints the president of the EU Commission and works with it and the Council of Ministers for the states of the EU.
Unless things change by 23 May, we will need to elect 6 members of the European Parliament to represent the South West region. The region is huge stretching from Gloucester to Bournemouth to the Isles of Scilly and even Gibraltar. There are currently no MEPs from Cornwall, which is partly why I am standing on the list of candidates for the Labour Party. However long we are to remain in the EU, it would be good to have a voice from Cornwall in the EU Parliament. The EU has a big impact on Cornwall in many ways.
We are the only part of England to qualify for EU structural funding and have received over €1 billion in the last 20 years. The new round of funding, which we were likely to qualify for again, is due to start in 2021. It lasts 7 years and would be worth around £350 million to Cornwall. Importantly, EU funding is distributed according to need, not politics.
Despite all the projects that money has supported, many people in Cornwall say they still haven’t felt the benefits of EU funding. This is likely to be because the money has been distributed through a complicated system that has become increasingly centralised under this Conservative government which has made it harder to access. Where it has been spent, people often do not get to hear about it. If I were an MEP, my Labour colleagues and I will be pushing to simplify that system so that where the structural funding goes is decided locally in Cornwall.
There is real concern that the Conservative Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is supposed to replace EU funding in this country after Brexit, will leave Cornwall short of funds and fighting with other regions for a share of the pot. Cornwall Council leader, Adam Paynter said last week “The Government’s lack of clarity over funding and devolution post-Brexit could have a significant impact on everyone’s lives within Cornwall." Labour have indicated that funding to Cornwall post-Brexit would be ringfenced under a Labour government.
Two thirds of all Cornish exports go to the EU. It is an essential market for our food and our fish. Tariffs or delay could catastrophically damage these industries. There is still no comprehensive plan from the government to replace the financial help that these industries receive from EU funds after Brexit or safeguard our exports.
Workers in Cornwall earn nearly £100 per week less than the UK average and are much more likely to be self-employed. Labour MEPs will work to extend current employment protections to zero hours’ contract workers and the bogus self-employed. Europe has the weight to take on the multinationals and protect our rights. Our Conservative government has shown it is not up to this task.
For however long we may remain in the EU, we need MEPs who are prepared to turn up, get stuck in and work hard for the people of Cornwall. That is what your Labour MEPs will do. What happens in the European Parliament matters here.
This blog will be created by members of the Exec committee on topics of interest to the St Austell & Newquay Labour Party