I wanted to take time out from the by-election to reflect on our Medway Survey which was launched in the summer. Firstly, a big thank you to the hundreds of people who took the time to share their views – clearly there is far more feedback than I could cover in the column but I wanted to highlight one particular point.
One of the questions in the survey was what are your key issues? The number one response was the NHS. Here in Medway we have had a huge spotlight on our local hospital and in particular the A & E department which is dealing with substantially more people than it was built for. There has been a revolving door on some of the key roles over the last few years which has left weakness in it’s leadership too. It isn’t just the hospital which people are concerned about, many residents have also talked about the difficulties in getting GP appointments which in some cases has meant they have gone to A & E, placing more pressure on our hospital.
So how do we tackle this? At September’s Labour Party Conference, our Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham announced the Time to Care fund, which will lead to 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more doctors, 3,000 more midwifes and 5,000 more care workers – funded by clamping down on tax avoidance and raising tax on properties worth more than £2 million and on tobacco companies. The other pledge is a guaranteed GP appointment within 48 hours or on the same day for those who need it. It is quite clear that if you are worried about the Medway Maritime hospital or seeing your GP, it is only Labour you can trust on the issue of the NHS.