Today (7th July), Sharon Hodgson MP, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, visited Sunderland Royal Hospital to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS.
Photo Caption: (left to right) Midwife Michelle, baby Hayden, Alex and Sharon Hodgson MP
Sharon received a tour from Carol Harries, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Corporate Affairs and Andrea Hetherington, Deputy Head of Corporate Affairs.
During the tour of Sunderland Royal, Sharon visited the new emergency department and the maternity department to meet some of the newest arrivals.
In the maternity ward, Sharon met with new mum Alex and baby Hayden who was wearing a special NHS 70 baby grow.
At Sunderland Royal Hospital, Sharon said:
“It was great to visit Sunderland Royal Hospital today to mark the 70 th birthday of our NHS and see the amazing work the staff do here every single day, despite the huge pressures on them with funding cuts and increasing demand.
“The NHS was established by a Labour Government, and it is only a Labour Government that will properly fund our NHS to ensure that it can continue for many more years to come.
“It was lovely to meet Hayden and see him in his NHS 70 baby grow. I will continue to campaign for our NHS to be free at the point of use for everyone, so that when Hayden grows up, he can benefit from it too.”
Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Jonathan Ashworth MP joins local residents at Bunny Hill to help campaign against the CCG's plans to close Urgent Care Centres in Bunny Hill, Washington and Houghton.
Sharon Hodgson MP's report Jun-Jul 2018 number 106
Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Jun-Jul 2018 number 106
As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a Westminster Hall debate on ME treatment and research. During her speech, Sharon raised the issue of limited funding for research on ME and delays in diagnosis.
You can read Sharon's speech below
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gapes.
I thank the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan) for her excellent speech setting the scene today and for securing this important debate, and I thank the Backbench Business Committee for granting the time for it. I also thank all hon. Members who contributed. A great number of them did so: the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey), the hon. Members for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Michael Tomlinson), for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk), for Strangford (Jim Shannon), for Stirling (Stephen Kerr), for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins) and for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands), and my hon. Friends the Members for Stroud (Dr Drew), for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy), for Heywood and Middleton (Liz McInnes), for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard) and for Ealing North (Stephen Pound) all made excellent and moving speeches. I thank the many other Members who made excellent interventions. The packed Public Gallery and the number of Members attending and speaking in the debate on a Thursday afternoon shows the strength of feeling on the subject not only in Parliament but in the nation as a whole—more should be done to help people with ME. They should get the help, recognition, support and treatment that they deserve and need.
I thank MEAction, Action for ME, the ME Association and the ME Trust for the detailed brief that they sent me, and ME North East and especially the Sunderland and South Tyneside ME support group including Professor Malcolm Hooper—I first met him way back in 2010 on this very issue—for all the work that they do to campaign for better care, support and recognition for people living with ME. We have heard today in great and moving detail from numerous Members sharing tragic and very personal stories from their constituents, whom we thank for allowing their stories to be told.
ME is a neurological disease, or a disease of the central nervous system, but that does not begin to explain how devastating it can be to have to live with it—or die from it, as happened so tragically to 21-year-old Merryn Crofts. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton, who was her MP, and the hon. Member for Glasgow North West for sharing her story with us in some detail—I especially thank her family for allowing that—and helping to make the case so strongly in the debate.
ME affects an estimated 250,000 adults and children in the UK and about 17 million people worldwide. Despite the fact that so many people are affected by ME, it is little understood in the medical world, leaving patients feeling dismissed, neglected and stigmatised further by their condition. That can be no surprise, as no significant research has been done into the condition, as we have heard. ME receives far less research funding than other neurological conditions of similar prevalence or disease burden. The answer to a written question from the hon. Member for Glasgow North West revealed that the average research spend per person living with ME is only about £1 a year, as she said. Also, the majority of that research spending does not even come from Government; it comes from the charity sector.
Does the Minister think that research into this condition should be left entirely up to the charity sector? The ME charity sector in the UK does a fantastic job of researching the condition. For example, the UK ME/CFS Biobank is a vital part of the ME research infrastructure and has achieved an international reputation. All the start-up costs for the ME Biobank were funded by the charity sector, and ongoing costs are met by the ME Association’s Ramsay Research Fund. Do the Government have any plans to contribute to that research?
Patients with ME feel that they have been let down time and again as research such as the PACE trial—which, sensibly, we heard about—have been found to be seriously flawed. In fact, Jonathan Edwards, emeritus professor of medicine, said that the PACE trial would be a great example
“in an undergraduate textbook as an object lesson in how not to design a trial”.
In addition, a petition signed by more than 12,000 individuals —mostly patients, but also more than 90 scientists and clinicians—and more than 50 patient groups worldwide have demanded a retraction of the results of that trial. Does the Minister agree that ME patients deserve a trial that they can trust not to dismiss their condition or recommend treatments that could make it worse? Do the Government have any plans to fund a proactive and co-ordinated piece of research on ME that patients can trust?
Given the lack of medical research into ME, healthcare professionals are, unsurprisingly, not sufficiently trained in diagnosing the condition, as hon. Members have told us today. According to several ME charities, coverage of ME in many medical textbooks remains inadequate and can be misleading or even non-existent. The chief medical officer’s report and the NICE guidelines on ME set out clear timeline markers for making an early and accurate diagnosis. Both recommend that adults should normally have had the diagnosis confirmed within four months of onset of symptoms, or within three months for children and young people. However, standard medical tests often find nothing wrong, which leads many doctors initially to dismiss ME as psychological.
In 2016 a patient survey by the ME Association indicated that only a small number of patients were receiving a positive diagnosis within six months of onset. Further experiences from the charity sector suggest that a majority of patients have to wait for more than a year, and a significant number for many years, before they receive a diagnosis. That means that patients are being dismissed and stigmatised further and, more importantly, are not then receiving the care and support that they need. Does the Minister have any plans to create a care pathway for people with ME to ensure that patients are given access to the care and treatment they require in a timely manner?
In addition, has the Minister made any assessment of the effects that ME, and the delay in diagnosis of it, have on women in particular? I find it incredibly illuminating that 75% of patients with ME are women. That leads me to believe that there is an issue of women’s pain being dismissed and not taken seriously by healthcare professionals. Will the Minister consider that issue in his response?
It is therefore clear that more training is required, not only for healthcare professionals but for welfare assessors. A survey by Action for ME found that 79% of survey respondents disagreed with the statement that their assessor had sufficient expertise of their condition to conduct an assessment effectively and appropriately. Symptoms of ME can fluctuate so much and are often invisible, as we have heard, so the condition is difficult to manage for patients and, it has to be said, difficult for welfare assessors to detect.
A patient may perform well during a welfare assessment, but an assessor will not see how long patients rested in order to perform tasks during the assessment, or how long it took for them to recover afterwards. As we know, the onerous and ill-conceived assessment process can result in not only an inaccurate award, but an exacerbation of ME symptoms, which can result in a long-term deterioration of the individual’s health. Has the Minister had any conversations with his ministerial colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions on that matter?
From this excellent debate, it is clear that the majority of issues that arise from ME do so because the condition is so little understood. The Government should consider funding research into ME to further our understanding of the condition. The hope is that that would, in time, improve perceptions of ME and improve the routes to diagnosis, care and treatment.
Friday 8th June 2018, Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, joined constituents and campaigners outside the Bunny Hill Primary Care Centre for the launch of a campaign against the proposed closure of Urgent Care Centres in Sunderland.
As a local MP for Sunderland, and Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon was invited to speak at the launch of the Sunderland & District Keep Our NHS Public where she set out the national picture when it comes to our NHS, with specific emphasis on the NHS winter crisis.
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Thank you for that introduction. It is a pleasure to be here speaking with you about our NHS.
The scale of support shown for this recently set up campaign group shows just how strongly local people feel about our NHS and its future.
As a Shadow Health Minister, I know all too well how damaging the Tories policies towards our NHS are and it is groups like your own, working alongside the Labour Party in Parliament, that are helping us hold the Government to account for their actions.
In my contribution this evening, I have been asked to talk about the national perspective when it comes to our NHS and there is nothing more pressing right now than the utterly shameful winter crisis that is engulfing our NHS.
This winter crisis is unlike any we have seen before, and the blame lays squarely at the feet of the Health Secretary who has presided over serious underfunding, understaffing and underappreciation of our fantastic NHS.
Labour have repeatedly dragged ministers to the House to hold them to account on this.
In the first week back in Parliament of this year, we had an Urgent Question where our excellent Shadow Health Secretary, Jon Ashworth, took the Government to task on their dismal actions and all the while Jeremy Hunt was staging a sit-in in Downing Street to save his job.
If he put as much effort into saving our NHS as he did saving his own career, then part of me thinks our NHS wouldn’t be in the state that it is currently in.
As the age-old saying goes, you can never trust a Tory with our NHS.
But I think we should now add: “especially Jeremy Hunt.”
Now many people are getting sick of the constant use of statistics to highlight the scale of the winter crisis, but they must never be forgotten and we should never stop repeating them.
The Tories have starved our NHS of resources.
This has meant that this winter alone, 75,000 patients have waited in the back of ambulances for over 30 minutes – often in excruciating pain.
Over one third of England’s children’s care units were 100% full, with not one single spare bed for new admittances.
A total of just over 1000 people have been hospitalised with flu; almost three times more than the 366 admitted during the same period in 2016-17.
Our own analysis has shown that there is a workforce crisis with 100,000 vacant posts across NHS England. Labour have estimated that this means a total of 40,000 nurse vacancies, 12,000 nursing support staff vacancies and 11,000 scientific, technical and therapeutic staff vacancies.
It seems astounding that the Prime Minister has said that the NHS is “better prepared” for the winter than ever before, but are we even surprised or shocked when this Prime Minister is prone to saying “nothing has changed” and sticking her head in the sand.
It beggar’s belief that the Tories believe that the NHS is only facing seasonal struggles and believe the NHS is in good health, when the key targets which help us gauge our NHS’s health are not being met.
It is worrying that right now bed occupancy stands at 95% when it should be at 85% and the gold standard A&E four hour waiting target is at 85% when it should be 95%.
So they are meeting the targets – just the wrong way around!
This whole saga is saddening, but what should shame the Tories (though I don’t think it ever will), is that in the 70th year of our NHS existence, it started the year marred by story after story of ambulances queuing up outside of hospitals and Trusts urging patients not to go to A&E because they were full to capacity and couldn’t cope.
The warning signs have been there for months, if not years.
Back in October, Jim Mackay, Head of NHS Improvement told the House of Commons’ Health Select Committee, and I quote:
“we are running tighter than any of us would really want to … so, it will be difficult – it will be very tight – over the winter”
This is from one of the top people within the NHS and the Tories turned a blind eye and ignored these warning signs.
But Labour has also driven home the need for this winter crisis to be prevented and avoided at all costs, so that patients can have the full confidence they rightly expect in our NHS.
At the General Election, Labour committed to an additional £6 billion being pumped into our NHS to not only prepare the NHS for a crisis such as the one we see now but also make sure our NHS has the money to continue being the jewel in the crown of our public services.
Even back in October 2017, Jon Ashworth was calling on the Government to direct emergency funding towards the NHS with a bailout of £500million to protect those who rely upon an overstretched NHS service.
This was all ignored and ridiculed by the Tories who yet again showed their disregard for the importance of protecting our NHS when they should be doing all they can to ensure our nation’s health is always put first.
But we know exactly what the Tories will say which is that they have moved funding towards the NHS but does anyone really think that an additional £1.6 billion will help address these pressures? It is paltry in comparison to what the NHS needs.
It is also concerning that NHS Trusts who had heard this announced and had probably let out a sigh of strained relief were not informed of their allocation until a month later.
The Budget was announced on the 22nd November and Trusts were not receiving their emergency funding until late December – some only getting it days before Christmas.
It is not surprising that NHS Providers turned around and said this money had come: “very late to be used to maximum effect”.
Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, also providing a damning analysis of the reality our NHS finds itself in last week said, and I quote:
“For the first time since [targets] were introduced, despite best efforts, last year the NHS missed all four of the long standing acute and ambulance performance standards. The four hour A&E standard. The 18-week elective surgery standard. The 62-day cancer standard. The ambulance response time target.”
This has culminated in NHS staff describing the state of their A&E departments as “third world” or “never seen anything like this”.
This has meant Trusts have had to delay all elective surgeries – which is estimated at 55,000 operations – until the end of January and no sign of when they will be rescheduled for.
This, of course, will have a knock-on effect for future operation schedules and will see patients living in pain for far longer than they should and many even see, god forbid, fatalities.
And this crisis is not over yet, as John Appleby of the respected think tank the Nuffield Trust said two weeks ago:
“the sobering reality is that winter for the NHS has hardly started”.
This is troubling. This is worrying. This is shameful.
We cannot allow this to continue.
That is why KONP is such a valuable local group which will help campaign to raise awareness amongst local people about our NHS and engage residents in defending our NHS before it is run completely into the ground and totally privatised.
Labour are committed to giving our NHS the support it needs.
In its 70th year we shouldn’t be seeing this precious public service being run into the ground but instead seeing investment that sees it through another 70 years and another 70 years after that.
People may say that this is an often misquoted line, attributed to Nye Bevan, but the thrust of it remains true.
“The NHS will last as long as there’s folk with faith left to fight for it.”
I am up for that fight, as I know all of you are too.
So let’s go from here and fight for our NHS.
Let us protect it and defend it at all costs.
Not just for those people who rely upon it now but for those future generations who will rely upon it too.
Click on picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Jun-Jul 2017 number 95