Marie Rimmer: Statistics used for court closure don’t add up

MP Marie Rimmer CBE, right, with representatives of law firms, from left, Joanne Ellis, Diana Fairclough, Jennifer Haygrath-Jones and Keith Powell, joined a protest against the proposal to close St Helens magistrates court pictured outside St Helens Courthouse
MP Marie Rimmer CBE, right, with representatives of law firms, from left, Joanne Ellis, Diana Fairclough, Jennifer Haygrath-Jones and Keith Powell, joined a protest against the proposal to close St Helens magistrates court pictured outside St Helens Courthouse

It has been a busy couple of weeks in Westminster since Parliament returned from the recent conference recess period.

In recent weeks I have continued to work with local legal professionals and others regarding the possible closure of St Helens Courthouse.

The figures used in the consultation to say St Helens is ‘underused’ simply do not add up.

I have secured a meeting in the next couple of weeks with the Justice Minister to discuss the issue in greater detail.

Last week, Labour raised an Urgent Question on NHS financial performance following the recent figures which show the NHS could be on course for an annual deficit of £2 billion this financial year.

There is clearly not enough money in the current NHS budget to cover existing costs and it is

unclear how the Government expect to fund more services spread over seven days.

The pressures faced by the NHS are a direct result of the decisions taken by this Government, started by the damaging top-down reorganisation that cost £3 billion.

There has also been a significant reduction in social care services, cuts to training for doctors and nurses and staff shortages are forcing hospitals to recruit from overseas or hire expensive agency staff.

During this discussion, I raised concerns about the fact hospitals in St Helens and Knowsley are being forced to recruit abroad and the impact of UK doctors applying to practise abroad.

Something which will only be worsened by the Government’s proposals for junior doctors’ contracts.

Just like St Helens and Whiston Hospitals, hospitals across the country are being faced with the stark choice between balancing the books and delivering safe care, with a further £22 billion of so-called ‘efficiency savings’ threatening staff cuts and service closures.

People across the country depend on NHS services and I fear the Government has no plan to tackle the financial crisis facing our NHS.

Back in St Helens South and Whiston, I recently visited the Autism and Asperger’s Society in Tontine House where I met with service users, volunteers and staff. As a member of the Autism Parliamentary Group, I recently pledged my support to the autism diagnosis campaign #whythewait

and I’ve written to the Health Secretary and NHS England calling on them to act to end diagnosis delays which cause many families to wait over three years for a diagnosis.

I also called in to Wardleworths Bookstore in St Helens to support their ‘Books are my Bag’ campaign. With Christmas just around the corner I’d urge you all to shop local and support businesses like Wardleworths when buying your presents – their knowledgeable local staff will help you find the perfect book for everyone.

If you’d like to get in touch about these or any other issues then you can email me on marie.rimmer.mp@parliament.uk or call my office on 01744 752075.