Ilford Recorder Column 21 February 2013


I have spoken several times in Parliament in recent weeks; in debates and statements on the NHS; on Europe; on Algeria and Mali; and on the future of the Nuclear deterrent.  I have asked questions to Education Secretary Michael Gove,  Foreign Secretary William Hague and Prime Minister David Cameron.   There have also been important debates on the Equal Marriage Bill where I voted on a free vote with the large majority of MPs in favour of the Second Reading which was carried by 400 votes to 175;  and on the Parliamentary Boundaries where the House of Commons vote means that Ilford South constituency  is saved and not cut into four pieces at the 2015 General Election.  In a special debate on threats to close  Accident and Emergency Departments  in London, I pointed out that as long as the proposal to close King George A and E  is on the agenda, there is a problem of morale, motivation and, potentially, recruitment. The Care Quality Commission report on Queens Hospital is absolutely damning about the shortage of consultants, the reliance on temporary locum staff and many other issues. There is a fundamental problem in the Barking Havering and Redbridge Trust’s culture that has been going on for a long time. It would be insane to go ahead with the closure of King George’s A and E. In January I had asked Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt to reverse his predecessor, Andrew Lansley’s decision; unfortunately he refused.  Two weeks ago when  I pressed for a commitment at the end of the debate, the new Conservative Health Minister Anna Soubry failed to respond or even mention King George and Queens hospitals in her wind up speech. How much longer can this government put its head in the sand?  The fight goes on.




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