During my 23 years in Parliament, Stockport people have raised a huge variety of issues with me – all of which have helped me to be a strong voice both locally and in Parliament. It’s no surprise that my small team in Stockport is exceptionally busy week in, week out. Since the last general election five years ago, we have handled over 30,000 calls, e-mails and letters – about 500 a month.
Consulting local people on the NHS has been a priority for me since 2013, when I began a local survey .Over 750 people have taken the trouble to fill in my questionnaire, and the responses have shown me that although people are happy with the service they get from their GP, they are very concerned about the length of time it can take to get an appointment. Many people saw that as the reason for people going direct to Stepping Hill A&E. And of course if there is not enough time for GPs to see patients there is an increased risk of people becoming so ill they need to be admitted to hospital.
Reading every single questionnaire means that I can give evidence of people’s real experiences in Parliament.
Listening to people sometimes it seems that this Government goes out of its way to make life harder for people who already have it tough. In our Stockport office we take up cases for disabled people who have been waiting for months to be assessed for the Personal Independence Payment, which helps offers financial support when they’ve had major surgery for cancer or are permanently disabled by a stroke. Not only have they had to cope with life threatening illnesses but the stress of trying to get the payments to which they are entitled.
There are also the heart breaking stories of families in desperate need of a home at the bottom of the waiting list for a council house living in expensive poor quality private accommodation and seeing no way out.
I do listen, but to make a difference for the people who contact me we need more affordable homes, both rented and for first time buyers, and better support for the most vulnerable people. Of course there will always be a limit on public spending and choices to make. On May 7th people will be able to make their own choice about the kind of government they want and the choices they want that Government to make.