Bereavement is one of the hardest things any of us ever has to cope with.
It’s even tougher if a loved one’s last hours or days are difficult or if you don’t feel they got the care they needed.
That’s what happened to the Fanshawe family who came to see me after Mrs Fanshawe’s mother died at the end of a short illness in Pinderfields last year. The nursing staff were working immensely hard. However staff shortages had become so serious that at one point she had to wait two hours for a bed pan, and the family had to step in to provide care and support on the hospital ward themselves.
Mid Yorkshire Trust has apologised and the new chief executive has been keen to work with the Fanshawes and with others to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It can’t be stressed enough how hard our NHS staff work delivering vital care every day of the year.
But let’s be honest, they have a fundamental problem: there are far too few nurses and too few doctors on our wards, in our hospitals and in our entire NHS.
Staff shortages at Mid Yorkshire Trust are far too high. Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury aren’t the only hospitals struggling. The whole of Yorkshire - and the whole of the country is affected. This is turning into a serious NHS crisis and that’s why I called a debate in Parliament.
First the Tories cut the number of doctor and nurse training places a few years ago. Then they picked big fights with junior doctors so many of them are leaving the profession. Now they want to abolish student nurse bursaries. Our NHS is precious - but its strength is in its people. I’m going to keep demanding urgent action from ministers so families like the Fanshawes get care and support when they need it most.
New PM Theresa May hasn’t been chosen by the country or by Tory members. So she may call a General Election sooner than 2020 - perhaps even before Christmas this year.
Given the serious damage the Tories are doing to our NHS, our communities and local jobs, it’s vital we have a strong and effective Labour Party that is determined to take the Tories on.
That’s why I’m backing Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest. Owen grew up in a coalfield area like ours and his politics were formed during the miner’s strike. I’ve long argued that Labour has to be a strong voice for towns and coalfield areas. We can’t stand by while communities are left behind. We saw that in the 80s and we can’t allow it to happen now.