There is no doubt about it, the NHS is in a right old state.
Our local acute Trust, North Tees and Hartlepool, is running at a deficit for the first time in its history; we are witnessing unprecedented nursing and midwifery staff shortages due to Brexit and the withdrawal of bursaries; we are seeing creeping privatisation on a daily basis and hearing of more services under threat across the piece, such as A&E at North Tees – to rub salt into the wounds of Hartlepool folk who disgracefully lost their own A&E a long time ago under spurious circumstances and now have to be blue lighted to Stockton for emergency care.
For family reasons, which I won’t go into, I have spent every day since last Thursday at North Tees Hospital.
On Easter Sunday at half ten in the morning I counted nine ambulances queuing up at A&E. I noticed the taxis coming in from Hartlepool and spoke to enough folk to know that it’s not just an inconvenience and expense for patients and visitors to travel to Hardwick from the town, it’s downright unnecessary when you think that we have a fantastic, fully equipped hospital of our own.
Those who have had treatment at Hartlepool Hospital prefer it to North Tees, and I know from my time as a union official that the same preference goes for staff who have worked at Holdsforth Road.
Don’t get me wrong, the staff at North Tees are very caring, and I especially would like to pay tribute to Staff Nurse Charlton and Doctor White for their professionalism and compassion in treating my wife, but it doesn’t detract from the argument that the people of Hartlepool, and the rest of the country deserve better.
It truly is an absolute disgrace that our NHS is in such dire straits and that trusts like North Tees and Hartlepool are being encouraged to flog off land and create wage cutting commercial arms known as ‘Wholly Owned Subsidiaries’ just to keep support services going and pitch them into the market place.
Worse still for mental health, where lack of funding is really hitting home.
The number of people in crisis is on the rise due to the effects of austerity and the impact of Universal Credit; the number of suicides amongst young men in the region is at an all-time high; and children in schools are beginning to manifest clear mental health problems.
Mental health deserves to be properly resourced, and it just isn’t happening.
l I think it’s simply fantastic that Hartlepool is to host the Indoor Bowling World Cup this year.
It really is an honour and will rightfully give us some welcome PR and television coverage.
Being showcased around the world can’t do us any harm, and the number of foreign guests who will come will hopefully help spread the word that we are THE place to visit in the Tees Valley, and the friendliest people to boot.
Speaking of which, it makes me so proud that time and time again, the people of Hartlepool always rally round in times of need.
The latest example being eight-year-old Alex Grant, from Greatham, who needs a special operation for microtia, or under-development of the external ear – not available on the NHS, but available in the USA.
Thanks to the good people of the town, Alex and Mum Katy are just £9,500 away from their goal of raising £35,000, and I’m sure that with your help they will make it.
l Finally, given the rightful scrutiny this week of eye-watering salaries of, on average £100,000 to £200,000, to headteachers of academies – far more in many cases than the basic wage for the Prime Minister – I would like to say that the MP pay rise this year was 1.8%.
I was not consulted on it, nor offered a vote – if I was I would have voted against it.
After tax, it amounts to less than £150 per month.
I have decided to donate £100 per month to Saint Aidan’s Soup Kitchen, and match it for any charity the people of the town vote for.
So, it’s over to you and the Hartlepool Mail. The donation will be for 12 months and hopefully we can do the same next year.