Burnley MP Julie Cooper column: World needs to act on climate change

Burnley MP Julie Cooper
Burnley MP Julie Cooper

In the last week millions of people in 150 countries took part in a global climate change protest.

This was the largest climate demonstration in history.

Thousands of people in the UK including young people from Burnley and Padiham joined in peaceful demonstrations ahead of the United Nations’ Climate Action summit scheduled to be held in New York.

It is vitally important that the world unites to act. We only have one planet and there is wealth of scientific evidence, that demonstrates that if we do not act now to become carbon neutral, our planet is on course to become uninhabitable.

Recent actions by the UK Government to reduce carbon emissions by 2050 are a step in the right direction but do not go far enough. Action is needed now and it is everyone’s responsibility, because whether we like it or not we are all in this together.

With this in mind I welcomed Burnley Council’s recent initiative to declare a Climate Change Emergency. I was though, disappointed to see that the majority of Councillors did not vote to fund meaningful action. We really are at the stage where supportive words are not enough.

With this in mind, I was proud at Conference to hear ‘my boss’, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth reveal details of our plans to make the NHS the greenest Health Service in the world. Reducing carbon emissions right across the service from hospital buildings to ambulances is an important step forward.

It is also vitally important as we move to negotiate trade deals with other countries post Brexit, most notably the United States that we ensure that our precious NHS does not become a bargaining chip for the benefit of private American health providers.

It really is essential that the needs of patients come before the profits of any private companies and any future plans must be accompanied by a full NHS workforce strategy.

The Government has been promising to deliver a workforce plan for sometime now and over and over again this is delayed.

The workforce plan is not the only one to be delayed: the plan for social care has been delayed for 7 years and there is still no sign of the green paper on prevention.

Meanwhile other Labour health policies, include the scrapping of prescription charges, the training of 5000 extra GPs and free personal care for everyone aged over 65 years who needs it. Addressing the gaps in social care provision is an important step to fix the crisis in social care.

The introduction of a national care service with high standards of care delivered by fully trained, highly valued and properly paid care staff is an important step forward. There is after all no more important job than ensuring that our senior citizens get the care that they need.

I am delighted to have led on the policy to provide free prescriptions for all. Prescription charges have always been a tax on sickness that have had no bearing on the cost of medication. It is literally a tax that is collected by pharmacists and paid straight to the Government.

It currently costs £9 for every single item and there is considerable evidence that many patients find these charges a financial burden and economise by only getting some of the items prescribed and research clearly shows that this often leads to the worsening of medical conditions and increased hospital admissions.

On Thursday I was really pleased to attend the graduation of Burnley’s Higher Education students. The ceremony held at the Mechanics was a very grand affair and quite rightly so.

These students have worked hard and they thoroughly deserved the applause that they received. For me personally though the best part of the day was the parade from the College through the town centre. The sun shone and students and their lecturers dressed in academic caps and gowns marched heads held high whilst onlookers applauded.

On Friday I held my usual advice surgery and I would like to thank the Jinnah Centre fro accommodating me and my staff.

For help or advice email me at julie.cooper.mp@parliament.uk, phone my constituency office on 01282 425744 or call in at my office on 8 Keirby Walk. Opening hours are Mon-Fri from 10am - 4pm (half day Tuesday)