“Rather than dismissing the concern of the public, Sheryll Murray needs to listen to the people of South East Cornwall”.

"Thankyou for the standard photocopied letter written by the Labour Party"

 Comment & Opinion
by Steve Wilkinson
Steve is a South East Cornwall Labour Party member, writing in a personal capacity.
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Sheryll’s response to 350 ‘photocopied’ letters.

Not the first spat of the day for South East Cornwall Labour and Sheryll Murray MP ! Millbrook Surgery – Sheryll publishes emails “I do not believe in using our local Health Services to frighten people into voting in a particular way”

Sheryll Murray’s response to NHS letters delivered to her office following the rally we covered, generate further anger from constiuents

by Steve Wilkinson

In the last week over 300 people in SE Cornwall will have received a reply to a letter they sent to their local Conservative MP, Sheryll Murray presented following a March in December 2017 in Liskeard, that got coverage in Cornish Stuff. It was led by Torpoint & Rame Labour Group.

The letter sent to Sheryll Murray MP called on the Government to prioritise NHS funding and address the cycle of crisis widely reported in the press, involving a shortage of beds, staff and resources that has resulted in the longest waiting times in A&E in living memory and culminated the cancellation of up to 50,000 operations last week.

The reply from Sheryll Murray generated unexpectedly strong reaction. Many recipients went onto social media to express their feelings.

Mrs Murray starts off slightly sarcastic,

“Thankyou for the standard photocopied letter written by the Labour Party”

She points out she received 350 identical letters which according to her is “only less than half a percent of he South East Cornwall electorate”. Some had additional comments on that she would reply to. Others, she claimed, had left the ‘tear it off here and send to..” bit on the photocopy.

On Facebook, ‘Ken’ he felt shocked by the “arrogance and pettiness” of the reply and read little to reassure him that the Conservative MP either understood or demonstrated any willingness to address the issue constructively. Another contributor Josie added: “However I feel they will refuse to accept responsibility and continue to blame everyone else!” which seemed to capture the general mood of the audience and the public in general.

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Predictably, Sheryll Murray MP blamed the current problems facing the NHS on the former Labour Government – now out of office for 7 years. For most people who currently use and work for the service, it has been evident the problems have escalated from one year to the next and the winter crisis’ go from bad to worse. Consequently, as the years go by using Labour as the excuse is simply not tenable and a smokescreen for the incompetence of the current Government’s management of the service.

Sheryll’s letter then went on to quote verbatim from a section of the 2017 Conservative Manifesto, arguing that the Tory Party had: ‘the most ambitious programme of investment’ and that was still relevant despite repeated calls for funding in addition to the £8bn pledged by the Tories from unions and health professionals who say the service is now at breaking point.

Another person who not only felt the reply was a diversion from what is really going on in the service was Jan Macfarlane, an ex GP who worked in Pensilva, Cornwall for 27 years.

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Jan has direct, first-hand experience of how the NHS has performed locally under both Tory and Labour Governments and used this experience to shape her reply and published it on Facebook.

Jan’s reply was extremely well received and was shared by hundreds of people, generating a lively debate about the Government’s failings and lack of new ideas evident in Sheryll Murray’s less than courteous reply.

Jan Macfarlane went through Sheryll Murray’s reply point by point explaining that whilst she was a GP under the Labour Government, contradicting the MPs claims of Labour’s poor management stating she witnessed: “waiting times for elective surgery come down from 18 months to less than 18 weeks over that time. New systems ensured that patients with red flag symptoms that might indicate cancer were seen within 2 weeks.”

One of the points highlighted by Sheryll Murray was the Governments’ manifesto commitment to spend a further £8bn on the NHS over the course of the parliament. Jan stated: ‘This means spending per head will now increase by 0.7 per cent in 2018/19, and by 0.02 per cent in 2019/20.

Adding: ‘This increase is far below the long-term average increases in health spending of approximately 4 per cent a year (above inflation) since the NHS was established and nowhere near the amount needed to meet the demand based on projections by the Office of Budget Responsibility.’

Articles by Leah Browning

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In the week immediately following Sheryll Murray’s reply, Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt contradicted Murray’s claim the Government were ensuring: ‘The NHS gets the resources it needs’ and publicly acknowledged the NHS will need “significantly more funding” over the next decade, as he faced calls from Labour to quit for losing the confidence of doctors, patients and the Prime Minister.

As the worst crisis being is being faced by the NHS in living memory continues, residents in Cornwall and elsewhere will want proper answers to questions from their elected representatives beginning with the Government taking responsibility for the management of the NHS and as Rame and Torpoint Labour Group have said: “rather than dismissing the concern of the public, Mrs Murray needs to listen to the people of South East Cornwall”.