Monthly Archives: November 2012

Bob writes for the Coventry Telegraph on the condition of Coventry city centre

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Bob raises concerns about the new NHS Mandate

Yesterday in the House of Commons, Bob raised concerns with Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, about the new NHS Mandate.

During the exchange, Bob highlighted the case of his constituent Michael Wade who was wrongly refused surgery for a life-threatening condition.  The decision to refuse treatment was subsequently reversed, but only after Bob and the Coventry Telegraph joined the fight to get Mr Wade the lifesaving surgery that he needed.

Bob told the Health Secretary that patients should not be forced to fight tooth-and-nail or be reliant upon their MPs or the local media to access the vital treatments that they need.  He sought categorical assurances that the new Mandate would improve patients’ right in this area.  Unfortunately, such assurances were not provided by the Health Secretary:

Mr Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East) (Lab): “My constituent Michael Wade was wrongly refused surgery for a life-threatening condition. What in the mandate improves patients’ rights, or will they continue to have to rely on MPs and campaigning local newspapers?”

Mr Hunt: “Any such examples are totally unacceptable. The rights that people have to the treatment they need clinically are enshrined in the NHS constitution. There will always be a need for MPs and other campaigners to highlight problems in the system, but we hope to make it much easier by exposing unacceptably low levels of clinical care much earlier than happens currently. As a result of the changes in the next two years we will see the NHS becoming the most transparent health care system of any in the world, which we hope will enable us to identify failures before they lead to the kind of tragedy the right hon. Gentleman mentions.”  (Hansard, 13 November 2012)

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The NHS is an incredible British institution and I am proud to belong to a party that values and prioritises our national health service. But the NHS needs to be able to adapt to new challenges and priorities, one of which is mental health.

One in four of us will suffer a mental health problem at some point during our lifetime, making it the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age. That’s why Labour wants to give mental health the priority it deserves.

Even in 2012, mental illness is a subject that is still too often brushed under the carpet. Far too many people struggling with a mental health problem feel as if they have to pretend something else is wrong – scared of what others will think. We need to break the taboo surrounding mental health and tackle prejudice against those affected by mental illness. Just as we joined the fight against racism, sexism and homophobia, so we should join the fight against this form of intolerance.

For too long mental health has been shunted to the margins of health policy. The cost of this neglect is enormous: in the strains and demands placed on those who carry the burden of care and in the trouble stored up over the years as minor problems become major ones. And failing to address mental illness costs the economy dear too. Untreated mental illness costs the NHS an extra £10 billion a year, and costs businesses over £8bn in sickness absence alone.

The Labour Party has recently announced a series of measures to improve mental health services in the NHS. We want to re-write the NHS Constitution to give people the right to talking therapies for treating mental illness – just as they already have the right to drugs and treatments for physical illness. And to make sure that mental health problems are spotted early, we will ensure that training for all professional staff in the NHS includes mental health training.

Finally, if we are to meet the mental health challenge, we must also recognise that it is an issue not just for the NHS, but for society as a whole. Good mental health doesn’t start in hospital, but in our workplaces, our schools and our communities.  That is why Ed Miliband has announced the formation of a Taskforce on Mental Health in Society so that the next Labour government can begin work immediately, implementing the change that is needed. This taskforce will look at how businesses, schools, communities and the criminal justice system need to respond to the challenge of mental health in the 21st Century.

Transforming the way we deal with mental health is an enormous challenge, both at a national level and at a local level in Coventry, but it is a challenge that we have to face head-on if we are to build a One Nation Britain, where everybody has a stake and prosperity is fairly shared.

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Coventry delegation to meet Secretary of State to discuss HS2

Bob Ainsworth will lead a delegation of MPs, council officials and business representatives in a meeting with Patrick McLoughlin MP – Secretary of State for Transport – to discuss the HS2 project.  The meeting is due to take place on Wednesday 7th November at 4:15pm in the Department for Transport.

Those attending the meeting with Bob will include Jim Cunningham MP, Geoffrey Robinson MP, Cllr John Mutton, Cllr George Duggins and Angela Tellyn and Larry Coltman from Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

The meeting will give those present the opportunity to discuss the impact of HS2 on Coventry and how Coventry can best derive the greatest benefits from the project.

Bob said:

“Although views differ about the impact of HS2 on Coventry’s economy, we are all united in wanting to get the best for the city.

“Good connectivity for Coventry from the proposed new station at Stonebridge and full use of rail capacity are issues we will raise with the Secretary of State”.

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