Happy New Year!
Christmas seems a long time ago. The less said about Christmas telly the better – it does seem to be getting worse and 2014’s was probably the worst I can remember.
New Year is a time for making resolutions and assessing priorities.
On a personal basis, I am participating in Dry January. This is becoming increasingly popular, resolving to give up booze for the first month of the year.
I like a pint of Strongarm, and I will certainly be celebrating the iconic Hartlepool brewery’s 150th anniversary this year by raising a glass, but I have to say a couple of days into Dry January I feel a lot better.
On the matter of priorities for Hartlepool, I think there are a number of key issues.
The first is the matter of health services in Hartlepool.
The people of the town are of course aware about the ongoing issue regarding the hospital.
The decision by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust to pause work on the Wynyard development in October last year was very significant.
I do not think Wynyard will go ahead and so the priority for the Trust, as I have said for many years, is to avoid centralising all hospital services at North Tees, at the expense of the existing hospital here in Hartlepool.
Given the announcement from the Trust about Wynyard, it has to return services to Hartlepool.
I think there is real unity in the town about this issue, and I will continue to ask the Trust, the Clinical Commissioning Group and the Government to do this.
There are wider priorities about the NHS too. People will have seen the coverage about A&E crises in every part of the country.
The newspapers and TV have covered this issue constantly this week, and quite rightly so.
There has been good analysis about the reasons for the crisis in the NHS and I think it boils down to two related and essential points: demand from the NHS is outstripping the resources the Government is providing to the National Health Service; and different parts of the public sector and the health service are not working as closely together as they ought to be, meaning that pressure in one part of the system is leading to a crisis in another.
If you cut back dramatically the funding given to local authorities as part of their social care arrangements, it is little wonder that the country will be faced with hospitals being full, unable to admit emergency cases, because there is nowhere for many patients to be discharged to.
In addition, if you propose as a Government to close GP surgeries and cut resources to ambulances, it is little wonder that hospitals are put under more pressure and ambulance response times deteriorate.
That is why I had a Parliamentary debate on this matter last year. There has to be better integration between health and social care and different elements of the NHS, not just in Hartlepool, but across the country.
The other priority I have is to see the town’s economy thrive.
We have in Hartlepool the makings of a great and prosperous economy, based upon high value manufacturing.
With further investment, we could see more companies, more highly-skilled jobs and more productive enterprises that can benefit more people.
That requires an education and schools system that ensures our kids can get the skills they need to get a decent job in Hartlepool. The importance of business and education in providing a positive and prosperous future is vital.
On a day-to-day basis, I aim to provide a prompt and professional service for constituents. I operate a full time constituency office at 23 South Road and hope that people think I am easy to contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Casework is important to me, especially making representations on Hartlepudlians’ behalf.
Those are my priorities for the New Year. I wish everybody in our town a peaceful, prosperous and healthy 2015.