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Bridget_Phillipson_MP_NHS.jpgOver the last two years, I’ve worked as a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to hold the government to account on how taxpayers' money is spent across a range of areas, from schools to hospitals, and security to social care.

Recently, we looked into the spiralling costs of clinical negligence claims, and how this is affecting the ability of hospitals to deliver vital frontline services.

Over the last 10 years, the cost of clinical negligence in the NHS has quadrupled, from £0.4 billion in 2006-07 to £1.6 billion in 2016-17.

It is vital that those who have been affected by negligence receive the support they need when things go badly wrong. However, these growing costs come at a time when our health service is increasingly strapped for cash - further limiting the resources available for frontline care.

Our inquiry found that increasing financial stress on the NHS means waiting times are getting longer, and the quality of care is under pressure – only making clinical negligence claims more likely, and costing even more in the long run.

What’s more, the government does not even seem interested in understanding why this problem is getting worse, and what can be done to address it. As the recent Budget showed, our NHS is not getting anywhere near the level of funding required to guarantee high-quality care, and avert another winter crisis.

Government ministers must get their act together to improve patient care and bring down the costs of clinical negligence.

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This is my final column of the year, and what a year of change it’s been. It’s hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner already.

Unfortunately, Christmas can be a challenging and lonely time for many, and I know that it’s getting increasingly difficult for families to make ends meet at this time of the year. That’s why it’s so important that we take the time over the festive period to think about those who are less fortunate than ourselves, both at home and abroad.

I support the important work being done by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, which is highlighting what we can do to make people feel less lonely, especially at this time of year - you can find out how to help out in our community on the Commission’s website.

I never cease to be amazed by the selflessness of those in our community who dedicate their time to helping others during the festive season – they truly understand the meaning of Christmas. I’d also like to take this opportunity to wish all Echo readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

To read this article in the Sunderland Echo, click here

Bridget Phillipson MP: Improvements must be made in patient care

Over the last two years, I’ve worked as a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to hold the government to account on how taxpayers' money is spent across a...

Bridget_Phillipson_MP_Houghton_and_Sunderland_South.jpgNext week, we will see whether the Tories can match their rhetoric about building a country that works for everyone, as the Chancellor presents his Autumn Budget to Parliament. 

Given their woeful track record over the last seven years - consistently missing their own economic targets, failing to invest in our vital public services, and presiding over a recovery based on insecure jobs and stagnating wages - I for one will not be surprised to see more of the same.

This approach simply won’t do at a time when urgent action is required to kickstart our economy, and to relieve the unprecedented strain on schools, hospitals and police forces throughout the country.

I’ve argued before that Tory polices will lead to a lost economic decade in our country. Growth remains stubbornly low, while the last decade has seen wages rise at their slowest rate since the early 1800s. While the number of people out of work has decreased nationally, our region has failed to benefit in the same way, as the north east has the highest unemployment rate in the country.

I fear the government’s failure to put our economy on a sound footing will only add to the pressure.

Take the NHS – one year on from a severe winter crisis, the warning signals are flashing once again. Recent figures show waiting times for both A&E and operations are spiralling out of control. The Chief Executive of the NHS has expressed his concern that the government is massively underfunding our health service.

The outlook for schools is hardly better. The vast majority face real-terms budget cuts despite the government’s new National Funding Formula. This will do nothing to improve our children’s life chances, at a time when class sizes are ballooning and teachers are already overstretched and under-resourced.

It’s clear the Tories have lost the economic argument, and the Chancellor must use this Budget to chart a different course. We need investment in infrastructure and education, in order to drive up productivity, and to create more high-skilled, well-paid jobs.

The chaos caused by the bungling incompetence of government ministers in recent weeks clearly show they have taken their eyes off the ball. Next week’s Budget will reveal whether the Tories are in any way serious about unleashing the economic potential that exists in regions such as ours.

To read this article in the Sunderland Echo, click here

Bridget Phillipson MP: Autumn Budget must chart a different course

Next week, we will see whether the Tories can match their rhetoric about building a country that works for everyone, as the Chancellor presents his Autumn Budget to Parliament. 

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On Friday 10 November, Bridget Phillipson, Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, held her fourteenth constituency coffee morning at the Hetton Centre.

Bridget was joined by over fifty local residents, who were able to raise their concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour with PC Phil Dixon. Other officers in attendance, including PC Kristina Martin, and PCSOs Martyn Richardson and Stephanie Anderson, addressed some of the specific points raised by attendees.

PC Dixon updated residents on recent trends in crime and anti-social behaviour, and the action that is being taken to deal with this.

It was clear there is particular concern about motorbike disorder, and anti-social behaviour in Houghton and Hetton town centres. Officers stressed that there are steps the public can take in order to help the police catch those responsible. If someone in your neighbourhood has recently acquired a motorbike or off-road bike and you're aware it's being used improperly, you can contact the police in confidence to let them know. Officers highlighted the positive action that has been taken thanks to public assistance on this matter, with bikes involved in certain incidents being confiscated.

We also discussed the challenges presented by government cuts to frontline policing. These cuts have been more acute in the north east, as Northumbria Police has had its funding reduced more than any other police force in England and Wales. As a result, the force has cut 900 officers and 200 Police Community Support Officers over the last seven years.

Despite these pressures, all officers present stressed that the police are fully committed to tackling crime and anti-social behaviour locally, and urged residents to report disorder as soon as it occurs, so that action can be taken. This can also be done anonymously.

Other issues raised related to local planning, including the recent consultation on Sunderland City Council’s draft Core Strategy and Development Plan.

If you would like to read more on the points discussed during this coffee morning, or would be interested in attending a future event, please email Bridget at bridget.phillipson.mp@parliament.uk with your contact details.

Bridget Phillipson MP holds coffee morning in Hetton

On Friday 10 November, Bridget Phillipson, Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, held her fourteenth constituency coffee morning at the Hetton Centre.


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