The privatisation and ‘reorganisation’ of the NHS has reached a crisis point and the fight to save our health service has to be stepped up.
I have enlisted the help of Ricky Tomlinson to add some further clout to our ongoing campaign which has been supported by a great number of local people over the last few years.
Many readers will know Ricky as Jim Royle in The Royle Family.
But he was also a union activist who was imprisoned for campaigning to improve the dangerous conditions which were common in the building industry.
When he left prison he was blacklisted in the industry and turned to acting.
I was myself blacklisted and have worked with Ricky before on the issue including bringing the matter to a head in a debate in Parliament.
I am hoping that he will have time to come to Bassetlaw over the next few months to help me and local campaigners to protect our NHS services.
The scale of the fight we have on our hands should not be underestimated.
You may already be aware of the privatisation of local addiction services but the problem goes much deeper than that.
The Government’s reorganisation meant that the NHS recently missed the national cancer treatment target for the first time ever.
That is not a trivial statistic.
It means huge distress and anxiety for patients and their families who are forced to wait for news and treatment.
It can sometimes have an effect on chances of survival.
Plans are even afoot to sell off cancer care to private companies in some regions with an eye to doing the same throughout the country.
Waiting lists are at a six-year high.
In 2010, 80 per cent of patients saw a GP within two days.
That has now halved, with only two in five people getting an appointment in the same time.
There is not even an economic justification for this chaos.
Three billion pounds was wasted on the reorganisation whilst 6,000 nurses were lost and pay was frozen.
That is no way to treat the people we rely on to run our health service.
There is already strong local support to save the NHS and to support those who work in it and I hope that many more will join the campaign over the coming months.
If you want to know more or get involved please get in touch with my office on 01909 506200.
I will also advertise future events involving Ricky and other guest campaigners as more details become available.
I am sure that by now those who knew her will have heard the very sad news that Worksop resident Jean Friel has passed away.
I counted Jean as a friend and one of my top volunteers who came into my office on countless occasions to lend a hand.
My thoughts are with her family and friends.