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“Serious delays in getting financial help to disabled people” by @tpearce003

Teresa challenged the Minister this week on behalf of disabled people in her constituency when she raised concerns about the hardship and anxiety caused by serious delays in processing claims for the new Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Teresa called a Westminster Hall debate to quiz the Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper MP, about the problems.

The Personal Independence Payment is replacing Disability Living Allowance and provides financial support to help people with disabilities and long term health conditions remain independent, work, and participate in society.

As evidence of the Government’s failure, she cited DWP’s latest official statistics which revealed that of 669,200 claims for PIP submitted since the launch of the scheme in April 2013, only 382,000 decisions/clearances had been made. Teresa spoke of the worry caused to 287,200 disabled and vulnerable people left waiting.

 Teresa highlighted the fact that claimants are not being kept fully-informed of the progress of their claims, and that some people are having to wait over a year for a home assessment at a time when they are most vulnerable and ill-equipped to cope. She spoke of one of her own constituents, whose claim had been closed down altogether because DWP was calling an incorrect telephone number.

An independent review of the PIP assessment process was published in December last year and is highly critical of the delays and faults in implementation. The report looks to DWP to act on a raft of recommendations to reduce the delays and improve its assessment process.

Following the debate, Teresa said:

“The number of claimants affected by the delays is staggering. It is vital that the DWP takes on board the recommendations made by the independent review and takes action to urgently address the serious flaws in the PIP process. 

 The failures are causing a great deal of unnecessary stress to thousands of people, and this cannot continue. I am contacted regularly by constituents who have either not been informed about the progress of their claim, or have been waiting six months to a year to receive a home assessment. It is unacceptable.”

“Response to the Tory A&E crisis” reports @labourpress

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, responding to A&E performance figures released this morning showing the continuing Tory NHS crisis said:

“These figures show that hospitals all over England remain at their limits and are sailing dangerously close to the wind. The Tory A&E crisis shows no sign of easing and too many patients continue to suffer poor care. It is having a damaging effect on the care of thousands of patients right across the NHS, with far too many now suffering the distress of having even the most urgent operations cancelled at the last minute.

“David Cameron must personally explain the steps he will take to bring England’s A&Es back up to acceptable standards. He caused this crisis by making it harder to see a GP and taking social care support away from hundreds of thousands of people. The Prime Minister has failed to produce a plan to turn things around and his complacency cannot continue. The Government is gambling with patient safety and allowing far too many patients to be exposed to far too much risk – proof you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS.

“Without solutions to their own crisis, the Government should implement Labour’s five-point A&E plan without delay. They should match Labour’s commitment to give the NHS an extra £2.5 billion each year to provide a long-term solution to this crisis and recruit the doctors and nurses it desperately needs.”

“Tories failing to attract enough women” by @paulasherriff

New analysis of Tory candidates in Yorkshire and Humber seats reveals that David Cameron is woefully failing to act on his ‘women problem’, having selected just one woman to date across the entire region.

It shows that the problem for the Tories is even more stark in Yorkshire and Humber than in any other region.

It means that the Tories are highly likely to enter the next parliament with no women at all representing Yorkshire and the Humber, with their only existing woman MP in the region, Anne McIntosh, having been unceremoniously deselected and a man selected in her place.

David Cameron has previously highlighted himself that that in order to represent the country properly more women are need in the Commons:

“On the important issue of getting more women into public life—[Interruption.] Yes, this is fantastically important for our country, because we will not represent or govern our country properly unless we have more women at every level in our public life and in our politics.”

David Cameron, Hansard, 5 February 2014, Column 264

However, in our region just one selected Tory is a woman.

Across Britain over three quarters of Tory candidates (77%) in the battleground marginal seats likely to determine the election, are male. (100 out of 130 candidates are male.)

This is even higher in the battleground seats which the Conservatives already hold, the candidates most likely to be in the House of Commons after the election, with 80% of candidates in battleground seats men. (71 out of 89 are male.)

Labour MP for Normanton, Castleford and Pontefract, Yvette Cooper, said:

“It is hardly surprising that time after time women have been hit harder than men by David Cameron’s government when there are so few women in his party.

“Frankly, in the 21st century to have the prospect of the Tories having no women MPs in Yorkshire and Humber at all after the election speaks volumes about their attitude to women.

“It beggars belief that they continue to do so little about it – they’ve replaced their only sitting woman MP in our region with a man, and have selected only one woman candidate in total.

“The prospects of women’s lives in Britain will be significantly better if Labour wins in May so our message to women in Yorkshire is simple – if you want women standing up for your interests in parliament, vote Labour.

“This election is going to be a very closely contested fight and we know that it going to be tough. But women hold the power and they are going to determine who is going to win.”

“We are in the fight of our lives to save the NHS from being sold off lock, stock and barrel” by @KailashChandOBE

During Prime Minister Question’s this afternoon, Mr Cameron said the “UKIP policy” was to sell off Britain’s publicly-owned health care system. He is absolutely right, and secret documents leaked from a Ukip executive meeting appear to suggest that a government under Nigel Farage would consider plans to privatize the NHS and use current policies as a stepping stone to more “radical” change. I am in total agreement with Andy Burnham when he warns that “a vote for Ukip is a vote for the privatisation of the NHS and for a full American healthcare system”. In response, Cameron’s reassurance that the NHS is safe in Tory hands seems hollow. The Cameron’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 opened the floodgates to the NHS sell-off. The act has massively increased the number of private providers in the NHS. Since this act came in to force, 70% of health services put out to tender have gone to the private sector.

For over 66 years the NHS has done what virtually no  other health system has produced – universal health care, free at point of use, delivering excellent care at a cost to the tax payer many billions less than a comparable one like USA. This is fast changing as we move the resourcing , monitoring , delivery and planning for health care to the for- profit sector. The creation of a market ethos-led NHS and the corporate philosophy of treating health as a commodity and the patient as a target have resulted in a colossal waste of funds with little real benefit to the patient. Since April, CCGs have spent £5 million on external competition lawyers as services are forced out to tender. David Cameron & Co, are turning the health sector into  a ‘fantastic business’, they are driving a coach and horses through public accountability.

People will be alarmed to see just how many of the people brought in to run Mr Cameron’s NHS have loyalties to private healthcare providers. David Cameron has recklessly mixed medicine with the money motive and that could damage the bond of trust between doctors and patients on which the NHS is founded. This ideologically driven NHS is encouraging a different breed of doctor, with many going in to medicine with a different mindset. We are in danger of producing doctors who go into the profession not out of a sense of public service duty and vocation; they will go in because it will be seen as another career option. The doctor-patient relationship, built on trust, is being eroded from the social contract and the rights of the patient to the “sales contract” and the rights of the “consumer”. Two successive governments have now shown that simulating a market ethos in the NHS might bring blips of success, but it carries the potentially fatal consequence of producing erratic behaviour from otherwise sensible people. And let’s remind ourselves, the biggest health market in the world, the US, has achieved the remarkable double whammy of having the most expensive system in the world and the greatest health inequalities.

Ignore Cameron’s denials: he wants to turn ‘NHS’ into a feast for big private companies. David Cameron will go down in history as the man who gave away this country’s greatest achievement to privateers, the man who enabled big American healthcare access to our hospitals. Nigel Farrage can keep on making noises and policies on the hoof. What can’t seriously be doubted is that if Cameron returns to Downing Street in May the NHS will be dismembered as a national service. Make no mistake, we are in the fight of our lives to save the NHS from being sold off lock, stock and barrel!

Welcomed announcement of standardised packaging of tobacco reprorts @labourpress

Luciana Berger MP, Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, responding to the Government announcement that they will bring forward regulations relating to standardised packaging of tobacco, said:

“We welcome the announcement that the Government will finally bring forward regulations on standardised packaging of tobacco. However, it was almost a year ago that MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of this measure and the delay is inexcusable. 
“Labour originally proposed the introduction of standardised packaging as a vital way to prevent children taking up smoking. 
“Standardised packaging of tobacco is backed by the conclusions of the Government’s own reviews, and has the support of public and Parliament alike. Yet the Government has taken almost a year to make this next step and in that time 200,000 children would have taken up smoking. 
“The Government must now press ahead without delay to ensure that this vital measure is introduced as soon as possible.”