Sheffield MP: 'A decade of cuts has left the NHS ill-equipped to deal with any extra demands, let alone a global pandemic'

As we look to the New Year, I’m thinking of all the NHS staff who are dealing with the latest wave of coronavirus.

By Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central
Friday, 24th December 2021, 9:16 am

Following two years in which they’ve been stretched beyond the limit, these pressures are unthinkable as nurses, doctors and healthcare staff tackle rising covid cases and mass vaccination, on top of routine care and the backlog created by the virus.

A decade of cuts has left the NHS ill-equipped to deal with any extra demands, let alone a global pandemic. But staff have stepped up to the challenge. They don’t only deserve our thanks, but a new year’s resolution from the Government to fund the NHS properly. While he’s at it, Boris Johnson should also fulfil his promise to fix social care.

Our young people have been hardest hit by the crisis, with school disrupted and learning lost despite the best efforts of teachers. I was out meeting students in secondary schools across my constituency recently, who want assurance that the problems created by Covid-19 will not affect their progress and that they’ll get the support they need. I hope that will include funding for every school to provide counselling to deal with mental health problems at the earliest stage.

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Paul Blomfield MP.

As a city we face lots of challenges through the next twelve months. The pandemic has accelerated the changes to the way we shop, with a big impact on the city centre – made worse by John Lewis disgracefully giving back word on the deal they had struck to stay in Barkers Pool.

The balance between shopping, living, working and playing will change, but the city centre’s got a great future. We’ll see more as the second phase of the ‘Heart of the City’ development unfolds, and the cash we’ve secured for Castlegate will build on the transformation already taking place, with the Council’s brilliant ‘grey to green’ scheme showing what can be achieved.

After the Government’s betrayal on rail investment for the north, we’ll have to redouble efforts to secure the funding for the Sheffield-Manchester-Leeds services that could turbocharge investment in the region and rebalance a UK economy which is too dependent on an overheated London and south-east.

Improvements to our rail and bus services are also key to securing the shift to public transport we need to hit our climate targets. Recent extreme weather around the world has underlined the urgency of reducing carbon emissions if we’re to leave a sustainable world for our children, so we must make 2022 the year in which we start making real change.

It should also be the year in which we step up to meet other international obligations. Sheffield is ahead of the Government on this too. I have been overwhelmed with the response to my Christmas Appeal for the children of Afghanistan, and Sheffield took the lead too as the country’s first ‘City of Sanctuary’. The UK takes fewer refugees than our European neighbours and I hope we can defeat the Government’s toxic rhetoric and welcome more of those fleeing war and persecution too.

Finally, let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a peaceful break, and a happy new year.