Health and Social Care

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:03 pm on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Labour, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle 3:03 pm, 16th January 2020

I think all of us here have had those moments when the injustice of what we see continues to haunt us ever afterwards. Last October, I had such an experience when I visited the vascular service at Hull Royal Infirmary and spoke to NHS staff as well as amputee patients with vascular disease and their families. Hon. Members may not know much about vascular disease, so forgive me while I explain briefly. This disease results from the build-up of fatty deposits in people’s arteries, which interrupts the flow of blood around the body. Vascular disease in the legs causes pain and muscle wastage, and the dead leg tissue can leave unhealable wounds that become ulcerous. My horror at learning about the pain suffered by patients of vascular disease, as the tissue in their legs slowly dies through lack of oxygenated blood, cannot be understated. When I was younger, someone very close to me suffered from the same disease and an amputation, and I grew up seeing not only their suffering, but that of their loved ones and family around them.

During my visit to the hospital I was shown images of foot ulcers, and the surgeon explained, in a phrase that has stayed in my mind ever since, that “time is tissue”, and that the development of a foot ulcer from something so small into something that requires amputation can be as short as 48 hours. My horror only increased when I learned of the north-south divide, with major amputation rates being 30% higher in the north of England than the south. The situation in Hull is even worse. Overall, people in Hull are 46% more likely to need a major amputation, and 16% more likely to need a partial amputation, compared with the all-England average.

Staff at Hull Royal Infirmary are incredible. They are hardworking and dedicated, and I am in awe of their work. I particularly wish to mention Dr Dan Carradice and the work done by his department on this disease. They are fighting vascular disease with their hands tied behind their backs. They are battling staffing shortages, increased demand for services and funding restraints, and all without the updated critical equipment and facilities that they need. It cannot be right that vascular disease patients who live in Scotland have access to more advanced equipment than people who live in England. We are at a critical junction, and the Government need to take action quickly.

I therefore have two simple asks, the first of which goes to every Member of this Parliament. I am proud to be taking over from Derek Thomas as chair of the all-party group on vascular and venous disease. I invite Members from across the House to join that all-party group, and to find out about the disease and how it impacts on their constituents. Together we can make the strongest possible case to the Government for more funding, and a better staffing plan to deal with this crisis.

Secondly, will the Minister meet me and Dr Dan Carradice to discuss the particular challenges at Hull Royal Infirmary, and the workforce requirements, equipment and funding that is needed to prevent the crisis in vascular disease from becoming even deeper? The Government must make this an urgent priority because as the doctor said, time is tissue, and we must act before it is too late.