Ian Lavery column: Labour's apprenticeship plan worth fighting for
It was another extremely busy week in the constituency with a range of meetings with local organisations, businesses and constituents.
I spent the best of five hours visiting the Wansbeck General Hospital.
During my visit I had the opportunity to meet and discuss a range of issues with patients, staff, members of the executive management team and representatives of the trades unions at the hospital, which included UNISON and the Royal College of Midwives.
Whilst at the hospital I had the pleasure in officially opening the new Aseptic Unit, which is a new state-of-the-art sterile environment, where pharmacy staff can prepare chemotherapy drugs and also support the preparation of intravenous drugs.
This new unit has created six new jobs and will support the rise in the number of patients needing cancer treatment.
Prior to the official opening I watched demonstrations of staff making chemotherapy drugs for patients.
This new £1m investment will benefit people in Wansbeck and throughout Northumberland. There can be no doubt that everyone at the hospital is 100% committed to delivering the best service they can for patients.
I support Labour's plan to sharply increase the number of high-skilled apprenticeships in the UK, which was unveiled by John Denham MP, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary this week.
Under Labour's proposals any company wanting to provide goods to the public sector should be required to have an apprenticeship scheme before they can win a contract.
The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition Government has dropped Labour's guarantee of an apprenticeship place to young people who want one and has failed to expand apprenticeship places for school and college leavers.
But Labour's job for contracts scheme would increase the number of apprenticeships by thousands and give immediate help to many of the unemployed under-25s.
Between central and local Government, billions of pounds of taxpayers' money are spent each year on procuring goods and services across all sectors.
This money could be used to drive up the number of apprenticeships created for our young people, getting them into jobs and helping our economy grow.
It's time for the coalition Government to listen and take action and not leave our next generation behind.
I have received a very large number of emails and letters from constituents who are genuinely and understandably concerned about the coalition Government's proposals in the Health and Social Care Bill.
I share the concerns expressed by my constituents and I am firmly opposed to this reckless, bureaucratic and wasteful reorganisation of the NHS.
I will continue to fight to save our NHS from this coalition Government.
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