16/12/2012 Sunday Politics East Midlands


Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby with the latest political news, interviews and debate including transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

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In the East Midlands: It could be a bleak winter for thousands, but are


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In the East Midlands: It could be a bleak winter for thousands, but are


they strivers or skivers? I have seen the numbers go up and I have


been coming for a couple of months, then it line kicks longer each week.


And as one of our region's hospital's heads towards a cash


crisis will the government step in to bail it out? They paid all that


money out, all of that, I think something has got to be done.


I'm Marie Ashby. Joining me this week, someone in the perfect


position to answer that question, the Chairman of the Health Select


committee and Conservative MP for Charnwood, Stephen Dorrell, and


Labour's Liz Kendall, the MP for Leicester West. And we're starting


with health, Liz Kendall's been busy in that area herself. She's


part of an all-party group of Leicestershire MPs who've been


meeting the man reviewing the decision to stop children's heart


surgery at Glenfield Hospital and transfer its ECMO specialist life


support unit to Birmingham. Children's heart surgery at


Glenfield was scheduled to stop after a government review


recommended concentrating specialist services in a smaller


number of larger centres. Surgical cases would be transferred to


Birmingham. But after strong objections, including from local


MPs, the decision is being reviewed by an independent panel. You met


the chairman Lord Ribeiro on Thursday, any hope there? He was


very clear to the cross-party group of MPs and peers that met with him


that he is coming to this with an open mind up. He has no


preconceptions, he wants to look at the evidence about what is going to


deliver the best care for children and the best support for families.


What makes you think the outcome will be different this time?


Because he is going to look at the proper evidence including on


Glenfield's ECMO service, although he was told by the Secretary of


State that was outside his review, he said the evidence was that the


services were closely linked so he will be looking at it. He was


concerned about whether or not people from the black and ethnic


minority communities had been properly consulted with and he will


look at increased pressure for services from our bigger population,


particularly among younger people in the area. So he wants to look at


the evidence, take a national decision about what is right for


the country and the most important thing is he is listening and that


is welcome. This has had cross- party support for Glenfield, are


you still behind the campaign? Absolutely, I think it is important


that this decision is reviewed, that is why I welcome the fact it


is being referred to the panel. Lord Rob Burrow is a distinguished


man, a former President of the Royal College of Surgeons, and


between Liz and myself there is agreement that there needs to be a


decision about this. Children's Heart surgery has been something


the health service has taken 10 years to respond to a national


scandal in Bristol. It really is time that there was a decision made


on a national basis about how this service will be delivered in future.


Do you think heart surgery for children should stay at Glenfield?


I don't think that is a political decision, it is a decision as


listed just now that needs to be taken on the evidence about how


that service can be delivered best in a safe and sustainable fashion.


One of the things that he said is that he is going to put the report


in now at the end of March, it was initially going to be the end of


February. The Leeds hospital has also referred at their decision, so


that is when it is going to come, I think it is right, we need a


decision, because the staff, families and children are worried


about the future. They need to take an independent decision. We were


putting the case for Glenfield and I'm confident they will listen to


that but there is a long way to go. It may be Christmas, but there's a


distinct lack of cheer for many. Thousands of people across the East


Midlands will be getting their Christmas meals from the region's


food banks. Benefits look set to be one of the great battlegrounds for


next year, with the Chancellor talking of helping "strivers not


skivers". But how do the people who rely on food banks to feed


themselves and their families feel? John Hess has been to one as they


prepared their very own seasonal party.


Christmas is around the corner and there is a whole roast on the go,


just the thing on a cold winter's day. We are in Loughborough, this


is a Christian a run a charity that provides a free food for some of


the vulnerable in the area, the unemployed, those living on the


breadline and who may need a bit of extra help. Parisse uses the


facility, what exactly is provided here? That provide us with food,


fresh vegetables, stuff that can be used, but markets throw away.


You're a former musician, a full- time carer, is it a fundamental


that you get this service? Are yes, it is, because without it, the old


cliche, it would be... A we will catch up with you later, let's


catch up with Judy, one of the people who runs this organisation.


Since austerity kicked in, were different have you noticed?


type of people coming have changed slightly. People who one wouldn't


have expected it, people who have perhaps lost their jobs, because


they haven't had their jobs for very long, they find they cannot


claim benefit, or people trying to claim benefits, which have been


held up for various reasons, which happens. I come one-iron a bit


short, and it really helps -- when I am a bit short. I have seen the


numbers coming up and I have only been coming for a couple of months,


it gets longer every week. How do you feel when you hear the


Chancellor talking about the shirkers and the strivers, and


those who were on benefits, staying in bed with the curtains closed?


That is probably because they cannot afford to keep their house


and the bed is the warmest place! I don't think most people in


government has any height -- how hard it is at the bottom of the


pile. They don't see how it is, my message to them would be, a jump in


your car, come down to a place like this and witnessed first-hand


exactly what is going on. Because all these people are in dire need


of help. We are now inside the fault -- a food stall. Is it always


this busy? Yes it is, this is our normal Tuesday and Thursday. What


are you able to give the people? give them bridge, we give them pins


up stock we give them cake -- we give them a front, we give them at


teens. But once it is gone, it is gone. How much would that cost of


the supermarket? I would say roughly �15. And that is a lot of


money to find? Yes, I would be back on Tuesday, first in line. Free


food is distributed twice a week from here. They will also be open


on Christmas Eve and New year's Eve. You know it there will be -- they


will be open because of the lengthening queue. Will you go and


have a look? I think interest, most MPs, most weekends, see somebody,


most of us more than one. Several good come into our surgeries at


weekends from different versions of the story. A but you must be seen


more of them? The answer is, there is clearly more stress, more


hardship in our society as a result of economic times, that is true.


What is important is to be clear at first of all that we should provide


help for people who find themselves in hard times the Messiah might be


volunteers providing that help, and we should ensure that there is a


proper safety net. But we do them no favours if we do not insist that


the real way to help them in the long term, them and their children,


is to ensure the economy works better so that fewer people are in


that position and more people are able to sustain themselves.


people there are saying it is not just the government who will act of


touch, it is all politicians across the board, they feel let down.


think that is true, I think people look at all politicians and feel


that they don't understand what is really going on in their lives. The


struggle they face, the choice between heating and eating. I had a


community meeting this week where people are really suffering a, they


are worried about what is going to happen, people want to do their


best for their family at Christmas, we are seeing our local credit


union same people are more in debt. People are choosing between heating


and eating, it is up to us, and I feel strongly as a Labour MP that I


should say the government has made a huge mistake on the economy, we


have long term unemployed doubled in the East Midlands... I and they


said the queues are getting longer. Let's have a look at how many


people are in the region. Housing benefit's a good indicator. There


are 327,000 people on it in the East Midlands, that's up 7.5%. In


Charnwood, Stephen, it's just under 8,000. And in Leicester, it's just


over 34,000. That's a shocking figure - more than 300,000 people


in our region on housing benefit. You can't label them all skivers.


didn't label them at skivers. your government did. But equally,


those people struggling in the way that is described, and I do not


dissent from the description, and they know there are people in their


community that they live next door to who they themselves described as


skivers, so we shouldn't imagine that this problem does not exist


for stoppages a small problem that does exist. What we ought to do is


make certain that all of those who are engaged and looking after


themselves, want to find jobs, sustain themselves, look after


their families, we have an economic environment where they can find a


job and look forward to improving living standards. Mind you, that


food bank in Loughborough has been running for three years, so it is


not just something that started now, it has been going on since Labour


was in government. We have seen around one new food back open every


single week across the country. -- food bank. 70% more food they are


giving out now than three years ago. The truth, I'm afraid, is what the


government announced in the Autumn Statement, their cuts to benefits


and tax credits, six out of 10 of those people affected are in work.


They are struggling and striving to do the best for their families! And


they feel it is incredibly unfair that they are paying the price when


millionaires are getting a big tax cut. They don't think that is fair


and I don't think that is fair. Then people turn around and say you


are out of touch. Politicians will always be accused of being out of


touch but when it -- what any politician should do is when they


have rich in their constituency, they meet people in their own


constituency, they engage with problems... But it out of 10 of


those people are actually working. But in Parliament we say we want a


fair system, one people who can work are helped and supported to go


into work and people who can't get a decent safety net, so they can


live a decent life, in the 21st century, in one of the richest


countries in the world, to have those food banks is a scar on


society. You point the thing that the government, I don't think


people in that you would help all thank either of us are appointing


figures -- for pointing fingers at each other. There is a recession


going on since 2008, times are tougher, what we don't have to do


is to look after the people who opt in hard times. But Germany's


growing by three or 4%, America is growing, this country is flat lined.


We have got such problems that long-term unemployment, the


government's work programme, we discover... But we cannot keep


paying out benefits. The way you do that is we had a job guarantee for


young people, we said you had no option but to turn down, the


government scrapped that programme, its new programme, only two out of


every 100 people have found work. That is not right, what we have


found is happening in the new work programme is that those who are


running them are being paid a only when the people on Dos programs


have long-term, sustainable work. The evaluation of the work


programme found most people would have found work without the work


programme. I think we will be hearing more about this in the new


year. Back to health now and the growing


financial crisis at King's Mill Hospital in Sutton in Ashfield. The


hospital took on a Private Finance inititative to refurbish the


building which looks like it could end up costing �2 billion. Now 16%


of its budget goes on repaying the PFI, compared with 5% at the Derby


Royal Hospital. A new Chief Executive has been appointed to


Sherwood Forest NHS trust which runs Kings Mill. He's warned job


losses at the hospital can't be ruled out. I think there may be


reductions in the workforce, but we need to come at it the right way,


we will increasingly have patients treated at home, so they will still


be treated but maybe not in the way they have seen it in the past. We


may not have as many hospital beds or as many nurses in hospital but


we will still have those staff caring for people in their


community. The finances are pretty grim at King's Mill, will your


It is not in the interests of patients to simply go on bailing


out a hospital where 16% of the revenue is being reserve to pay for


and pay out on to PPF eye. there is a President. You already


helping Peterborough and Stamford NHS Trust, who are �45 million in


debt. We are seeing the requirement to change. We had a debate this


week in the House of Commons, the requirement to change the way care


is delivered to reflect the fact that today's health service has


many more elderly people, many people whose needs are best met not


in the modern Acute Hospital, but by ensuring there are property it -


- community-based services. We need to take resources, away from the


acute sector to make sure there are proper dignity -- community


services, so people cannot be discharged because the services are


not there. But what of the hospital runs out of money? The is why I


stress it is in no one's interest to us to bail out existing


structures. If the system as it is currently delivering spends too


much on acute and not enough on delivering care near to people's


homes, then we are not meeting the needs of patients, and that should


be what drives the service. Labour massively expanded this PFI project,


this whole idea of it, does Labour regret having done it? No, I think


overall I think PFI absolutely helped transform a crumbling


Victorian hospitals. I am also clear that some of those project


were not good value for money. I agreed with Stephen, we need to get


a shift of services out of hospitals into the community to


help people stay fit and healthy for as long as possible. But one of


the problems in this area, particularly in and around the


Ashfield constituency, is we have seen vital services like walk-in


centres been shut, so people here the rhetoric on the grounds, they


think... There are two people who use Kingsmill. We've been to


Mansfield to find out what they think of their hospital. I have had


good dealings with Kingsmill, every time I have been in, I have been


looked after very fairly and the place is lovely and clean. I do use


the hospital quite a bit, these recent years, so I have seen the


development and improvement and they are fantastic, it is a really


nice place to go now. But I am worried about the financial


situation they are in. They haven't got it, and no, they have paid all


that money out, all of that, I think something has got to be done.


It looks a lot better than I did. Got no complaints about it, really.


Interesting that a lot of them like what the PFI has done for the


hospital. We've already heard the chairman of the trust saying there


could be job losses. How does it work, do wards close, do jobs have


to go? I'm sure what Eric Morton is spending all his thinking Tyne on


his making sure the hospital doesn't run out of money and that


what happens is the services change in a way that reflect the needs of


patients. You don't have to wait until the hospital has run out of


money before you change the way in which care is delivered to reflect


the needs of patients. Under all governments, the NHS has to live


within our budget, it is a Budget that is at record levels, and it


needs to meet changing needs of patients, if the needs of patients


change then the shape of the service that is delivered needs to


change as well. You've been bitten by the PFI process in Leicester -


�20 million lost when a project for a major health hub fell apart.


Maybe PFIs and hospitals aren't good for your health! One of the


interesting things is that the PFI deals are quite long deals, 25-30


year deals, and health care is much more fast moving than that. So I


think there is an issue if you have a process which locks the service


into a model which may not be the right one for 20 or 30 years' time,


we have to look at that for the future. The other thing is that


whilst individual services need to lick -- live within their means,


one of the benefits of a National Health Service is that people are


not left on their own, it is not that hospital, it is the whole area.


So I think it would be wrong to go down a route where it is just about


the individual service, we are a national health service, we need to


work together to support each other. PFIs aren't always bad, Derby's


Royal Hospital is held up as a shining example, why has that one


worked when others have failed so spectacularly? Some of Stephen's


colleagues say that everything is all down to this terrible PFI, the


majority of hospitals with PFI deals are able to pay them back


properly. Those have been problems often have an underlying issues


that need to be addressed. don't hear me criticise the PFI is


I was first a Treasury minister then a health minister that


introduced it, and I'm delighted to say that the Chancellor has now


said that he is going to look at the failings, because 15 years into


a programme, it is not surprising it has made mistakes. What we need


do is it refashion it in order that there is it a capital available to


allow the system to restructure. Time now for a round-up of some of


the other political stories in the East Midlands this week - with our


Political Editor John Hess in 60 UK Coal has restructured his


business. It has divided the company into a mining operation and


a property sector. There is also a new name, coalfield resources. The


firm says it mining business would have gone bust without the move up.


The government may have signalled a shale gas bonanza in the East


Midlands. There are thought to be large


reserves in our region, so far and no one has applied to carry out the


controversial for racking. Ashfield council is handing out a


�250 Christmas bonus to staff earning less than �21,000. The


measure has been condemned by the leader of the opposition Liberal


Democrat group. Wondering why you Christmas card


from Leicester County Council has gone, the council has decided to


scrap its tradition of sending out cards. You can tell it is


Christmas! There we have it in a nutshell - Labour Ashfield district


council giving out bonuses, Conservative Leicestershire


cancelling Christmas - you lot are just poles apart. I don't think we


are cancelling Christmas by cancelling Christmas cards! There


will be more than one view about the merits of them. I haven't even


started writing mind. Are you sending any? To a few people. I


have done all my shopping online this year, it was all sorted last


week, it has transformed my life. If Christmas cards could be a


personal expression and again, that would be wonderful. Where you get a


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