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The Argus newspaper recently revealed that the private ambulance firm which provided such abysmal service that it was stripped of its four-year contract after seven months was paid more than it should have. I've been helping the drivers, their union the GMB and service users since the start of this debacle and now I'm more angry than ever.

During the tenure of the service ran by Coperforma tens of thousands of patient journeys were missed, patients were left waiting for hours, patients missed appointments, ambulances were sent to the homes of patients who had died, ambulances operated without a licence and drivers went for months without pay.

In fact, Coperforma performed so poorly that after seven months the NHS pulled the plug. For this 'service' Coperforma were paid £16.2 million and the NHS paid close to £1 million in extra payments. 

At a time of crisis in the NHS, we now know that NHS managers have been pouring taxpayers’ money straight down the drain. This is enormous investment for no return whatsoever. In fact, all most patients got for these millions was misery, uncertainty and the indignity of waiting countless hours for a terrible service. Taxpayers and patients alike need answers. And they need to know that there are consequences for this gross malpractice. The people who wasted these millions must pay a price.

As part of my efforts for fairness I am working with Age UK on this because our system for getting older people to hospital isn't fit-for-purpose. Our key concerns are:

*who gets help and how good that help is seems to be a postcode lottery.
*currently many older people are experiencing anxiety, exhaustion and distress getting to their hospital appointments.
*we want every older person to get to their hospital appointments safely without it being a struggle.

In Brighton and Hove my concerns are:

*Patients not being permitted to have a companion when needed, for example one individual got in touch to tell us that despite her mother being partially  sighted she was not allowed to travel with her.
 
*Patients being referred to hospitals which are too far to travel to on public transport.
 
*Unreliability of public transport to get patients to hospital, and the eligibility for PTS being set too high.

You can read a campaign report here: www.ageuk.org.uk/our-impact/campaigning/painful-journeys/

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN HERE: www.ageuk.org.uk/our-impact/campaigning/painful-journeys/

Patient Transport Is Painful

The Argus newspaper recently revealed that the private ambulance firm which provided such abysmal service that it was stripped of its four-year contract after seven months was paid more than it...

One of the first acts by Theresa May as prime minister was to scrap the Department for Climate Change and to scrap the cabinet ministerial post for climate change. We were told at the time, laughably, that this wouldn’t lead to any loss of influence about one of the most important issues facing the planet.

In place of a cabinet minister we now have a mid-ranking government minister and in place of a department we now have a team tucked away in the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.

I got to question the minister for climate change on the select committee I sit on and questioned her about how often she meets with the prime minister to discuss climate change. This exchange shows how difficult it is to sometimes get a straight answer, but it also shows how good committees are in the Commons because you get a period of time to question ministers rather than one question.

Had the minister given me a straight answer first time around I’d have moved on, but as it was clear she was being evasive I just had to keep digging and digging until I finally got the admission that, you guessed it, the minister for climate change has never had an official meeting with the prime minister to talk about climate change. Never.

I am proud that Labour created the world’s first climate change laws, reduced carbon emissions by 20%, and elevated the challenge to a cabinet position with its own department. I weep at the fact that Brexit is eclipsing issues like this and we have a prime minister who will go down in history as the leader who demoted climate change, scrapped the department charged with solving it, and didn’t even meet with the minister leading on the issue. It is not surprising that Britain is due to miss our legally binding targets.

Even though government have lost their heart I promise you that I will use the platform you have given me to keep this on the agenda and push for ambitious solutions and achievements whenever I can. I won’t give up just because the government has. All the best, Peter

 

You can see the exchange between the Minister and I here

The Downgrading of Climate Change

One of the first acts by Theresa May as prime minister was to scrap the Department for Climate Change and to scrap the cabinet ministerial post for climate change. We...

...although I know for people who travel to work on our rail network it's not happy at all.

I've just got home after meeting commuters at Hove station with a group of Labour campaigners. Because today rail fares went up again by more than a hundred pounds for season tickets holders and we wanted to listen to them about their experiences.

Rail fares have gone up a whopping 34% since 2010. But that's just part of the story. At the same time the cost of living has also gone up and two things have fallen: wage growth and rail performance.

The fact that people are paying so much more for rail travel and the service has got so much worse is a source of despair and rage for many. I know because I hear it directly from so many of you.

I've worked more on this than any other single issue since I became your MP, and please believe me that it crushes my spirit that improvement is so slow and our service remains so unreliable.

£320m has been invested in our line to London over the last year - this is thanks to the pressure brought by a group of cross-party MP's I set up with Sir Nicholas Soams. But we have been very clear that this level of investment must be maintained for another three years if we're going to deliver the robust service you need and deserve. Believe me I am fighting for that.

Labour has a popular policy to renationalise the rail network. In the coming few months I'm going to be doing an awful lot of work on how this can be used to deliver more investment but also power to passengers. There isn't just one type of public ownership and I want to fight for a medal that will deliver investment, reliability, and also passenger power.

Sir Nicholas and I have already requested a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport to discuss Southern and Thameslink performance, I expect this to happen very soon and of course I'll update you when it happens.

I've never promised that change can come quickly on such a massive infrastructure project, but we should be getting more than this. Government should start by telling the public what will improve, and when. I've been asking them this in teh Commons for a long time now but they refuse to give data which we can hold them to account for going forward.

I promise I will never stop working on this until we get the service our city needs. I have now met too many of you and heard too many deeply upsetting stories for me to do anything else.

I truly hope you had a restful Christmas break and fun over the New Year. All the best, Peter

Happy New Year!

...although I know for people who travel to work on our rail network it's not happy at all. I've just got home after meeting commuters at Hove station with a...

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