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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Only a stay of execution for the A&E departments at Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals?

Earlier today the Secretary of state for Health, Jeremy Hunt, made an announcement about the changes in provision at many local hospitals including Ealing, Charing Cross, Central Middlesex and Hammersmith.

Central Middlesex and Hammersmith will no longer have A&E services. Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals would remain open but the A&E wards would stay in the short term with changes to the 'size and shape' of services. There is a period of time where the current arrangements are to be reviewed but the details of this review were not mentioned.

Jon Ball (right) unimpressed with Jeremy Hunt
Councillor Jon Ball, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, said earlier: “I welcome the stay of execution for the A&E departments at Ealing and Charing Cross that Jeremy Hunt has announced today following a huge campaign from local residents and politicians of all parties. However, in addition to the disappointment about the downgrades at Central Middlesex and Hammersmith, this announcement raises more questions than it answers."

Jon Ball added: "Jeremy Hunt needs to spell out what the 'changes to the services' he mentioned in his statement are and the length of his commitment that the A&E departments will remain open before there will be any champagne corks popping in Ealing."

To me, the announcement may appear good but beneath the water potentially lies a shark waiting to attack us. For example with no maternity unit and a growing birth rate it means that people will be travelling further not just to give birth but to visit family and friends.

We also do not know what might happen after this future review. It could mean that they are closed or stay in a form that is not an A&E that any of us would recognise.

It was great for the campaign to be supported by so many tens of thousands of residents who either signed the petition or attended rallies. I said a long time ago that it would have been sensible for the Council, the Secretary of State, doctors and patients' respresentatives to all sit down and discuss things. What we have not is more uncertainty and tax payers money not being spent on providing for our health service.

This campaign needs to go on...

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mayor of London clearly does not want to help out part-time workers

At the Mayor’s Question Time last week, he refused to further consider the merits of a travelcard for part-time workers. This would allow many workers to have more flexibility in their jobs and for many to take up part time work when currently this is not possible due to Boris's high fare increases.

Following questioning from Caroline Pidgeon, the Mayor, who is also the chair of Transport for London, gave a clear cut reply that he had ruled out any further consideration of the proposal.  His stance led to criticisms even from Conservative Assembly Members.

The Mayor's statement that he will not consider further introducing a travel card to cover part-time workers is deeply disappointing.

Caroline Pidgeon working to improve London's transport
Already 900,000 people in London work part-time and the figure is rapidly increasing.

Daily caps on Oyster simply don't provide the same good deal for the many people who need to get to an office three days a week.  Ultimately the whole travel card system is centred around the old fashioned idea of everyone working a five day week in an office environment.  That simply isn't the real working experience anymore for many people.

The Mayor, as chair of Transport for London, should stop making excuses and instead ensure that people who work part-time or regularly work from home are given a fair deal.

Friday, 25 October 2013

How Lib Dems in government are helping Ealing

Since the formation of the Coalition a number of policies have led to improvements for those living in Ealing.

The Liberal Democrat part of the coalition government has had an impact by ensuring fairness whilst turning around the economy from what we were left in 2010.

To help redress some of the inequalities in our society the Liberal Democrat idea of a Pupil Premium was introduced. This gives schools extra money if pupils’ families are most in need of assistance. For the 2013/14 year, Ealing benefits by £12.4 million. This will give our local schools a great chance to provide additional educational services for those who are most in need. The Southfield Primary School gained about £145,000 and this was welcomed.

Speaking at a rally about local hospitals
Many residents I have spoken to in Acton have said the last couple of years have been difficult with the state of the economy, but they welcome the raising of the tax threshold so that thousands of residents in Ealing no longer have to pay income tax. This Liberal Democrat policy (from our 2010 manifesto) is something we are very proud of.

This policy puts cash directly into working people's pockets, and benefits all lower income people.

In Acton and Southall we have seen the proliferation of betting shops. Fellow Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Ball spoke about this problem at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow recently. He has called for changes in the law to allow the numbers of new betting shops to be better controlled and is hopeful that the coalition government will now legislate to give Councils like Ealing these powers.

Since 2010, over a million people have started apprenticeships, with thousands created in Ealing alone. Not everyone wishes to pursue a university education and so the positive work on increasing apprenticeships since 2010 needs to be continued.

Apprenticeships for those under 25 has given work experience and improves their prospects of getting a job. There will help our younger members of society in Ealing develop their potential.

Although we have fewer MP’s than the Conservatives at Westminster, we are pursuing our liberal beliefs and are able to curb some of the more extreme conservative ideas. It is not easy in a coalition, but it does demonstrate that coalition governments can work and bring real benefits to our area.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Let's keep fighting to keep our local hospitals intact

Today during the wind and the heavy rain Liberal Democrat councillors and supporters spent time at the rally opposite Ealing Hospital.

I made a short speech, as those in attendance covered themselves with umbrellas. I talked about the fact that despite Ealing Council losing the court case recently the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, will make a key decision on the Independant Panel's report which he received a couple of weeks ago.

A rain sodden speech
I see our position using a footballing analogy. We are one nil down at half time but we have time (next week) to score not just an equaliser but a couple of goals to win 2-1 and save Ealing from having our hospitals downgraded.

We all hope that Jeremy Hunt makes the right decision for Ealing, Acton. Chiswick and the surrounding area. We need our hospitals to have maternity units as well as A&E's! If patients travel further to hospital then quite simply more people will die.

We have a growing community as people live longer and locally birth rates have increased over the past few years.

At the rally it was good to see lots of campaigners from all parties but good to speak to those who travelled from Acton and Chiswick (Councillor Andrew Steed and Gary Busuttil) as well as Nigel Bakhai the Lib Dem health spokesperson, who has spent the last 18 months with others standing up for the residents of Hanwell and the wider Ealing area.

Jon Ball (right) and other Lib Dems at the rally
Jon Ball, the Lib Dem parliamentary canididate for Ealing Central & Acton, was present with the Liberal Democrat banner, showing that we are firmly against these mad plans to downgrade our hospitals.

Whatever decision is taken next week we will continue to fight for a better local health service.