In the House of Commons earlier this week I spoke in the Queen's Speech debate on aspects that related to health and social care.
The debate seemed to be more about what was not in the Queen’s Speech than what was, however the issue of immigration and access to the NHS was talked about.
Many UK citizens go to work in other European economic area countries; they pay their taxes and social insurance contributions there and as a consequence they are allowed to obtain health care in those countries. Immigrants are not coming to this country to use the NHS and they do not use it for free. They pay, as they should.
Numerous UK citizens have also gone to countries in Europe, not to work but to retire. If they return to this country en bloc, consideration should be given to the impact on the health service, social care and care for the elderly. There is a serious need for sensible discussions about these issues.
Public health was also mentioned in the debate, an area in which the Government has completely lost its way. The Prime Minister had promised to get tough on alcohol abuse and smoking, but instead has caved in to big business and vested interests.
Disappointingly, the Queen’s Speech has not included legislation on the minimum pricing of alcohol and the standardised packaging of cigarettes.
Evidence suggests that minimum pricing will stop some people drinking excessively. Statistics show that thirty years ago the people most likely to die from alcohol-related disease were men in their 60s but now, men and women in their 20s are dying from diseases like cirrhosis of the liver.
The consultation on standardised packaging started in April last year and ended in August; now, nine months later, nothing is going to happen. It is likely that more than 950 young people between the ages of 11 and 15 in Rotherham will take up smoking this year, and half of them will die a premature death.
Something must be done to stop the dreadful premature deaths in this country.