Thelma Walker lobbies Chancellor for more cash in the budget

An MP joined a trade union protest in a bid to stop funding cuts at every school in her constituency.

The Examiner revealed earlier this year that a government shake-up of school funding is set to see all but three of Kirklees’ 171 schools lose out.

Colne Valley MP Thelma Walker , a former headteacher, has now joined forces with ex-colleagues to campaign for a re-think.

In the Colne Valley more than £3.3m will be lost from school budgets by 2019/20. This could lead to a reduction of 75 teachers across the constituency.

Mrs Walker, a member of the Education Select Committee, joined a day of action organised by the National Education Union (NEA), formerly the National Union of Teachers.

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New report shows NHS Trust must think again over the number of beds at HRI

The new report by the health policy think tank, The Kings Fund has highlighted the need for the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust to go back to the drawing board over cutting the number of beds at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

The briefing paper; ‘NHS hospital beds – Past, Present Future’ was released last week. The report finds that the total number of NHS hospital beds in England has more than halved over the past 30 years. This is due to more care for people with mental illness and learning disabilities being provided in the community, and medical advances reducing the amount of time many patients spend in acute hospitals.

Although most advanced nations have also reduced hospital bed numbers in recent years, the briefing shows that the NHS has fewer acute hospital beds per person than almost any other comparable health system.

The report says ‘There are signs of a growing shortage of beds. In 2016/17, overnight general and acute bed occupancy averaged 90.3 per cent, and regularly exceeded 95 per cent in winter, well above the level many consider safe.’ The report goes on to say; ‘In this context, proposals put forward in some sustainability and transformation plans to deliver significant reductions in the number of beds are unrealistic.’

Thelma Walker, MP for the Colne Valley said

“This report clearly identifies that a reduction in beds is not acceptable and shows how the NHS has one of the lowest ratio of beds: patient in the developed world.

“Cutting over 400 beds to under a hundred is not acceptable and this report provides further evidence to demonstrate that the downgrading plans for HRI have not been thoroughly thought out.”

Thelma added

“Whilst medical technology has moved on, and people now need to spend less time in hospital after operations than previously, we still need hospital beds.

“We cannot have another situation this winter where appointments across the country are cancelled because there isn’t a bed for someone to recover in.

“Due to massive cuts to local authorities’ budgets, social services are often unable to support people coming out of hospitals with additional care needs. This results in additional nights in hospitals for people who perhaps don’t need to be there.

“In light of this report, I urge the Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Trust to go back to the drawing board.”

Thelma Walker MP declares that Labour will deal with Britain’s Tory Debt Crisis

The next Labour government will tackle the persistent debt spiral that many working families in Colne Valley have become trapped in by introducing a cap on interest payments.

Seven years of Tory economic failure has seen the slowest wage growth since Napoleonic times, which has led to a looming debt crisis at every level of our country.

The average amount of credit card debt outstanding for accounts in persistent debt is £3,464 and the total amount outstanding on these accounts is therefore in the region of £14 billion.

Credit card debt is therefore becoming a growing problem and threat to the people of Colne Valley Constituency.

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:  “The last seven years of Tory economic failure has created the perfect storm, as wages have fallen behind, more and more families are being pushed deeper into debt. I am calling upon the Government to act now apply the same rules on payday loans to credit card debt. It means that no-one will ever pay more in interest than their original loan. If the Tories refuse to act, I can announce today that the next Labour government will amend the law.”

Thelma Walker MP said:  “Many people in the Colne Valley Constituency are struggling with unaffordable levels of debt through no fault of their own.

The last seven years of Tory economic failure – including wage stagnation – has meant more and more families are being pushed deeper into debt.

At the same time, some companies are making massive profits from people’s financial difficulties.

The next Labour government will tackle the persistent debt spiral that many working families in the Colne Valley Constituency have become trapped in.”

HRI Campaign Snubbed by Health Secretary

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP “unable at present” to visit HRI and refuses to meet campaigners in Westminster.

The Health Secretary has responded to a letter, sent by Colne Valley’s MP Thelma Walker inviting him to visit the HRI to meet staff and campaigners prior to making a decision about the potential downgrading of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Thelma Walker invited Mr Hunt to visit the HRI after the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee of Kirklees and Calderdale Councils voted to refer the decision about the downgrading to the Health Secretary. You can read that letter in full here – Letter – Jeremy Hunt invitation to visit HRI.

Thelma has now received a response from the Department of Health. This email said that Mr Hunt was currently touring hospitals across the country but could not guarantee when or indeed if, he would visit. The letter went on to say that “due to his already hectic diary commitments” he would not be able to meet with constituents in Westminster.

Speaking after receiving the emailed letter, Thelma Walker said “I am disappointed that the Health Secretary does not appear to care about the people of the Colne and Holme Valleys or Huddersfield.

The plans were referred to him, because the JHSC decided it was an inappropriate decision made by the Trust and CCG’s to downgrade our hospital. Mr Hunt will be unable to make a full and proper assessment of why Huddersfield Royal Infirmary is a vital lifeline for our communities. Nor will he be able to understand the unique geography of the area.”

Thelma added, “This is a blatant disregard for local communities needs and wishes. It shows he is not concerned about the safety of our families, and once again we see a Minister in this Government who refuses to leave their desk in Westminster to actually engage with local people.

This isn’t the last Mr Hunt will hear from me or my constituents, and I will do everything in my power to try and secure a meeting with Mr Hunt and local people.”

My inspirational time at Labour Conference

I had a wonderful time at Labour Conference this week in Brighton. Labour are a government in waiting, and we will change Britain for the better!

Such an inspirational event, bristling with enthusiasm and democracy, it was great to meet so many inspiring people.

I met with Jo and Beccy from the National Deaf Children’s Society to discuss how we can support deaf children to overcome barriers in education.

Also enjoyed a chat with The Children’s Society about supporting Colne Valley children. The UK is the sixth richest country in the world and yet 4 million children live in poverty. I am committed to tackling this as your MP.

Campaigner of the week

I shared with you the things I have done for Colne Valley in my first 100 days last week, and the magazine for Westminster that is delivered to MPs and peers picked up on the story and featured me as their ‘Campaigner of the week’!

Some of your lovely comments were published too. Thank you to all the people who commented, and I will continue to work hard on your behalf.

Clem’s Garden – Countering loneliness with flowers

Clem’s Garden need your help with their project to counter loneliness in later life…with flowers!

Clem’s Garden is a new social enterprise in Lindley, bringing people together to share in a community garden, growing and selling flowers. The group will provide meaning, focus and the opportunity to make more social links. Loneliness in later life is a growing problem in our society and I’m giving the project my full support.

They have the land, and are applying for funding – but what they need most right now are volunteers to help clear and prepare the land for planting.

I will be putting on my wellies and joining them, hopefully this weekend, along with other volunteers. Please come along and help, or if you can offer any skills or resources, or want to get involved, please contact hello@clemsgarden.co.uk

Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to Conference

A rousing speech from Jeremy Corbyn today at Labour Conference. An honour to share a stage with someone who has changed the poltical mainstream in Britain.

A new consensus has emerged from the crash of 2008 and the decade of austerity that followed. People have found a political voice for their hopes of something different and better.

We offer people a clear choice, and will continue to broaden the consensus around the priorities we offered in the election, making the case for both compassion and collective aspiration.

People put their faith in Labour because we offer an antidote to apathy and despair. Labour can and will deliver a Britain for the many not the few.

This is now the real centre of British politics, built around hope and real democracy.

WASPI campaigners at Conference

I was pleased to catch up with WASPI campaigners at Labour Conference – their message: we’re not going away!

I stand with them. Labour promised in our Manifesto to provide pension credit and additional support to the two and a half million 1950s women still waiting to retire. We must put right the injustice these women face.

As a member of the APPG on State Pension Age Inequality I will be working to make that a reality in the coming months and years.

Jon Ashworth’s Labour Conference speech

“The nation left shocked by a little boy with suspected meningitis waiting 5 hours in an A&E without a bed, forced to lie on two plastic chairs.

Some called it a humanitarian crisis. Let’s call it what is really is – a Tory manufactured crisis.”

Jon Ashworth, Shadow Health Secretary speaking today at Labour Party Conference. Watch his speech below.

We are calling on the Tories to immediately bring forward the winter bailout fund of £500M. If Theresa May oversees a collapse on the same scale as last year, 10,000 people will be waiting more than 4 hours for A&E every day, with hundreds of operations cancelled and waiting lists growing.