Letter from Parliament - Paul Rowen MP

March 20, 2009 12:00 AM

Paul Rowen MP - Reporting back from ParliamentOver the last two weeks there have been two reports that paint a shocking picture of the way some of our most vulnerable people are treated. They are damming indictments of the managers and politicians involved in our caring services.

The first was Lord Laming's report into the death of Baby P, the second the Health Commission's report into the running of Stafford Hospital. Both the relevant government ministers Ed Balls and Alan Johnston gave a statement to the House of Commons.

Their failure to acknowledge that government policies might be partly responsible, particularly with their target driven culture, was in my view the most depressing aspect of these reports.

Indeed I met several medical staff from the A&E department at Rochdale Infirmary who are expressing similar concerns. I know that one of them has written to the Health Secretary expressing concern at how the downgrading of Burnley General Hospital has increased the pressure on Rochdale Infirmary's A&E Department. A report from the Lancashire Health Scrutiny committee is due to be published shortly. Councillor Dale Mulgrew, the Council's Health Spokesman, has promised to update me on its content.

Another issue of concern has been the level of asbestos in schools. Following on from Rochdale Online's work on highlighting asbestos in Rochdale schools I followed this up with a nationwide survey. Over 90% of schools in Greater Manchester for example have asbestos in them and the government has no plans to remove it. This is in contrast to Ireland which has removed all asbestos in schools.

I met Mary Bousted from the ATL teachers union to discuss how we might take this issue forward. She told me that they were aware of over 400 teachers who have died of asbestos related diseases in the last few years. The Daily Mirror has also been great at campaigning on this issue and next Wednesday, with the Speaker's permission, I have an adjournment debate on this vital issue.

On Monday the Council once again raised the Irish Flag to celebrate St. Patrick's day. I had hoped to be there but because of meetings in London I had to miss it. It was however great to see several parishioners from St John's and St Patrick there alongside the Mayor and our recovering Council Leader Alan Taylor.

On Wednesday I was pleased to attend a St Patrick's reception at the Irish Embassy followed by a meeting for Catholic MPs with Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor.

On Thursday night I was pleased to be the guest speaker at the Greater Manchester Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport at the invitation of Tony Young.

Early this morning (Friday 20 March) I was travelling back to London to vote for the Fuel Poverty Bill before returning to Rochdale to attend the 75th Annual Charter Dinner of the Rochdale Round Table.

Tomorrow, as well as a surgery, I am attending the annual Mayor's Charity Ball. All in all a busy week!