Many constituents have contacted me about health funding and the related campaign on overcrowded hospitals.
I commend the dedication and commitment of NHS staff and I believe that the Conservative Government is letting them down.
The NHS is going through a winter crisis in which the number of patients being turned away from A&E and sent to other hospitals is at a record high. Large numbers of patients are also facing long waits for a bed, and I have read reports that, in the first week of January, there were more than 18,000 "trolley waits" of four hours or more. One of the most concerning reports to come out of hospitals recently was that of the death of two patients at Worcestershire Royal hospital who had been waiting on trolleys.
What happens in the NHS in the winter is a sign of wider problems. The NHS is going through the largest financial squeeze in its history. We have seen £4.6 billion cut from adult social care budgets. On Wednesday 11th January, the Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, and I spoke in the Commons in a debate we called on the crisis in the NHS and social care. We called for £700 million of extra funding to be brought forward from 2019 to help hospitals cope this winter, and for a new funding settlement for the NHS and social care to be part of the March Budget. You can see my contributions to the debate here. I was disappointed that the Conservative Government opposed this motion. It is wrong for it to continue to ignore calls for extra funding for the NHS.
Senior clinicians have also raised concerns about the impact that the predicted severe weather could have on making this crisis worse. I am disappointed that, instead of dealing with the problems, the Health Secretary has suggested that the four hour A&E target should be downgraded and no longer apply to minor injuries.
The Conservative Government needs to bring forward a plan for how it will tackle this crisis. I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will keep putting pressure on the Conservative Government to take action.