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Ipswich Hospital can focus on fighting coronavirus – not paying off its debt

PUBLISHED: 06:00 17 April 2020 | UPDATED: 06:15 17 April 2020

Debts have been written off at the trust which runs Ipswich Hospital.  Picture: ARCHANT

Debts have been written off at the trust which runs Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

I was very sorry to find out that more than 50 people have now died at Ipswich Hospital having contracted the coronavirus.

At this time my thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all those who have lost their lives.

Ipswich Hospital serves a population far greater than just Ipswich so not all of those who have lost their lives at the hospital would have been my constituents, but many will have been and it saddens me that a number of constituents have lost their lives to this deadly virus.

I was glad that last week I received a letter from the Health Secretary informing me that East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust has been relieved of almost £200 million of debt. Clearly the challenges that our hospital faces at the moment are unprecedented and the pressures on its resources will be too.

The sole focus for the leadership of the trust at this time should be saving lives and taking whatever steps they need to in order to do so. I hope that this decision by the Government will aid this.

More on the coronavirus crisis

I was appalled to read earlier this week that there have been a number of different incidents in Suffolk of police officers being deliberately spat at and coughed at.

It goes without saying that spitting on a police officer is a despicable act at the best of times but doing so in order to deliberately spread the coronavirus is an action that should be met with very serious consequences for the individual involved.

It’s not just the police officer in question who could catch the coronavirus as a direct result of this action but also their colleagues within the force. If this sort of appalling behaviour was to become too commonplace then who’s saying that there couldn’t be serious implications for society as police forces are depleted and with numerous police officers having to self-isolate because of this disgusting behaviour.

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This isn’t to mention how wrong it is that Police officers who dedicate their livelihoods to keeping us safe have the additional worry when they are at home about whether or not they may be a risk to their own family members as a result of having potentially caught the virus.

My view is that those individuals found guilty of this behaviour should be punished in such a way that properly takes into account the serious nature of the offence they’ve committed and the potential consequences it could have for us as a society.

I think if you’re found guilty of this you should spend at least some time in prison. And it’s welcome that the Crown Prosecution Service have said they will not hesitate to prosecute anybody who spits at emergency workers with sentences of up to two years in prison.

A very clear message and deterrent needs to be sent to nip this sort of appalling behaviour in the bud.

Next week Parliament will be sitting again but the plan is for much of our activity to be virtual, this will include the departmental question times.

Interestingly I have been drawn to ask a question at both the Ministry of Justice question time with the Lord Chancellor and also Attorney General’s question time. For the first time ever these sessions will be carried out by video link. At one of these sessions I will highlight the need for the Government to take steps to ensure that those who commit these crimes are punished to a sufficient degree.

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Finally I just want to say a quick word about those of my constituents who work at the Port of Felixstowe and the Port of Ipswich.

Thousands of my constituents work at the ports and though we rightly highlight the extraordinary efforts and dedication of those who work in our NHS, Police forces and education system, it’s also worth bearing in mind the major contribution that those working at the ports are making to the national effort.

The Port of Felixstowe is the largest sea container port in the country and right now it would be incredibly difficult for us to function without it. Those of my constituents who as key workers are getting up day in day out during this national crisis to work at the port and ensure that things keep moving should be very proud of the role that they are playing.

I believe it was the first Thursday that as a country we all came together to #clapforourcarers. I saw on national news a shot of workers at the Port of Felixstowe making their own tribute. I think it’s important they know we also recognise the huge contribution that they are making right now.


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