First of all, an enormous thank you to everyone who supported our Labour candidates in the council elections last week.
I am delighted Labour now has more councillors and took more votes than any other party in Trafford. My Labour councillor colleagues, whether newly elected, re-elected, or who were not up for election this time and continue in office, look forward to serving every Trafford resident, and to bringing about real changes that benefit everyone in our borough.
The election kept me fully occupied last week, and with a bank holiday on Monday, it’s been a short but intensive week in parliament, so this will be a short update too! But I’ve still been busy, speaking up for constituents on the appalling Northern Rail service, which continues to go from bad to worse, and on the disgraceful practices of Royal Bank of Scotland towards some of its business customers in recent years.
Health has been a bit of a recurring theme this week. I asked ministers about the delays experienced by patients waiting for physiotherapy while recovering from a stroke, about delays (again) for assessments for children with mental health needs, about access to sexual health services for people with learning difficulties, and about health services in immigration detention centres.
On Wednesday evening, Labour called a debate on financial support for student nurses. The government has replaced bursaries with loans, and the prospect that qualifying as a nurse will leave someone with tens of thousands of pounds of debt is likely to put people off from studying. At a time when we desperately need more nurses, this is really worrying.
Tuesday evening saw us voting on new data protection laws, which aim to give stronger protections for individuals’ privacy. But the government has been seeking to create exemptions to this principle. There was even a health angle to this bill – my colleague, GP Dr Paul Williams MP, along with other MPs from across different political parties, had proposed an amendment to the government’s proposals to ensure that data held by the NHS about individuals’ health can’t be shared with immigration officials. It’s really important that we protect patient confidentiality, and also important for public health reasons: if people think their data might be used for immigration purposes, they might not seek treatment that they need, for example if they’re pregnant or have an infectious disease. I was glad to support the amendment, and delighted when the government backed down on this point.
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