Coventry North
Image: Gwydion M. Williams / Wikimedia Commons

GE2019: Coventry North East and West candidates on Brexit, climate and more

For this month’s General Election, The Boar interviewed the candidates for Coventry North East and Coventry North West to provide information for students at the University of Warwick who are voting in the constituencies.

The Boar asked candidates to answer five questions, relating to the topics of Brexit, higher education in the UK, the climate emergency, local crime and healthcare. Candidates were also offered a 10-minute phone interview on questions related to the aforementioned topics.

For Coventry North East, Nukey Proctor (Liberal Democrat) and Iddrisu Sufyan (Brexit Party) replied to The Boar‘s enquiries in time. Colleen Fletcher (Labour), Matthew Handley (Green) and Sophie Richards (Conservative) did not participate.

For Coventry North West, Stephen Gray (Green) and Greg Judge (Liberal Democrat) responded within the given time. Clare Golby (Conservative), Joshua David Richardson (Brexit Party) and Taiwo Owatemi (Labour) did not participate.

Coventry North East

Nukey Proctor (Liberal Democrat)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

NP: Firstly, by campaigning to Stop Brexit. People are fed up with the Brexit chaos. It has become a national embarrassment and no matter whether voters backed Leave or Remain, nobody voted for this. I want to stop Brexit because it means we can focus on tackling the big issues facing the UK right now.

If we stop Brexit, we won’t need to mitigate the effects. Instead we can use the economic growth that would otherwise occur for a £50bn Remain Bonus that we will invest in our public services and tackling inequality. A vote for a Liberal Democrat government would be an unequivocal vote that you want to remain and that you want to see the local economy, jobs and industrial heart of this country protected.

Nicole Karageorgi (for The Boar): What do you have to say to the 58% of people who voted for Brexit in Coventry North East who want it done?

NP: I completely respect that. But Brexit today is a very passionate topic, and that there’s very strong feelings on both sides, whether people believe in Leave or Remain. Nonetheless, I think that those who voted at the time of the EU referendum for Leave, I don’t believe that the situation and the crisis that we’re in at the moment is what they voted for. I don’t believe that they voted to lose their job or to suffer negative economic consequences of Brexit. And although I can appreciate that some people are very frustrated with the Brexit process, I think it is very important that anybody who is elected does so in a way that is honest and transparent. And so what I say to them is that ultimately, if I was to be elected as an MP, what they’ll get from me is honesty and transparency. And that means that I will always be very, very open about my feelings on Brexit, stop Brexit and remain in the EU. The deal that we have at the moment is the best deal available to us, and I think if we can stop Brexit, we can use the money that would be to tackle a lot of the very real issues and very real concerns that so many people have when they voted to leave in the first place.

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

NP: The biggest problem facing higher education right now is Brexit. The prospect of leaving the EU has already done immense damage to this sector, impacting our ability to maintain top-quality research activity, attract funding and deliver the best teaching. All of this going on to have a knock-on effect to the quality of teaching that students receive from our fantastic local universities like the University of Warwick.

Everyone at Warwick will have friends, course mates or colleagues from the EU who are contributing to university life. European staff are teaching, researching and innovating in every academic field and EU students help create a diverse learning environment. Stopping Brexit is the best way to ensure our universities maintain their links with the EU and protect programs like Erasmus+ which have benefitted generations of UK students.

Of course, Brexit is not the only challenge facing higher education sector. Lib Dem plans for universities include moves to reinstate maintenance grants to help students with the cost of living, strengthen the Office for Students to ensure students get the quality education they need from their universities and work to block further interest rate increases on student loans.

I also would love to do more to encourage integration between our universities and local residents. In recent years, there’s been an unhealthy friction between students and other occupants of the city. I think our MPs should be doing more to help bridge that gap.

NK: There are two universities within the wider region of the constituency. Can you expand on how you will try to encourage integration between students and local residents?

NP: Absolutely. I think that one of the things that’s really important about being a representative is making sure that we’re continuously going out into the community and speaking to people directly about their needs and their requirements. So one of the things I would hope to do as an MP is to organise sessions or meeting with the universities to ensure that we’ve got a very accurate and fair understanding of their plans and intentions within the local area. And in conjunction with that, I want to be setting up time to speak with local residents, to understand both what they find positive and potentially negative about being in such close proximity to the universities. I would love to see a range of events and a range of, I guess, collaborative successions between local residents and key members of staff within the universities. I think we can try to encourage a really strong dialogue. And it would be really important to make sure that if there are concerns or issues raised by the universities or by residents, that there’s been active progress, and they are communicating how they are tackling any of those concerns, again, in an open, honest and transparent way.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

NP: As a consultant who has worked with the public sector for my entire career, I have seen close up how major transformational programmes can be delivered. With strategy, commitment and focus, we can achieve so much. The first step is you have to have an ambition. A Liberal Democrat government would aim to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and halve emissions by 2030 compared to today.

The next step is you have to have a plan, but it needs to be radical AND credible. We have an array of policies we would enact including banning fracking, restoring the Department for Climate Change, setting up a new Green investment Bank and setting up Citizen’s climate assemblies to improve public engagement.

Locally we need to look at how we invest in sustainable, reliable, economical public transport. We need to invest in green public spaces, improve cycle routes and reduce air pollution. We need to do this whilst engaging with citizens and ensure they feel acknowledged in the decisions we make.

When the Lib Dems were in government, renewable electricity generation almost trebled, we planted a million trees in the first national tree planting programme and introduced the 5p charge for plastic bags. We were both bold and practical. Another Lib Dem government would do the same.

NK: Coventry have now announced a climate emergency. Can you expand on how you would implement sustainable transport locally, especially as traffic is a really big issue generally within the city?

NP: Absolutely. I’m a local resident like everybody else and I suffer the consequences on a regular basis from traffic and the old roads. It can typically take one incident and then we see, ultimately, gridlocks, traffic around the city in a way that is not just, I think, frustrating for the drivers within the city, but also has had very serious consequences in terms of air pollution and pollution that comes from cars, ultimately idling due to traffic and congestion. And one of the things I think that we absolutely need to look at is the public transport provision within the city. There are already plans in place looking at increasing the number of train stations that there are around the city. I’m very supportive of that. I think that transport needs to be accessible, it needs to be reliable and it needs to be cheap. And I think that increasing the number of train stations that we have in the local area will encourage people to move from taking cars and driving to alternative forms of transport. I will be looking at any proposal or any ongoing projects and programmes around electrifying, using electric vehicles around the city. Coventry has a fantastic legacy in terms of the motor industry and the automotive sector, and I think that we should definitely support and encouraged electric vehicles and discourage – especially over the long term – use of diesel forms of transport.

NK: Do you think the current bus services adequately serve the city well?

NP: I think that there’s definitely room for improvement. The public transport as a whole, as a holistic whole in the city, is something that has had, I think, the residents do have concerns about, and I do think that in the country and in the region, there has been a degradation in the bus service that is available to us. It’s not necessarily completely a matter for the MP, I recognise there are elements of transport policy that fits within the West Midlands combined authority. In the city, it is about ensuring there is funding and provision, and then incentivisation of encouraging alternative forms of transport. And that’s where I do think that government should be playing more of a role.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

NP: The causes of violent crime are complex, there is no single cause and this unfortunately means there is no single solution. What I would say is that in tandem with other factors, what has not helped has been the reductions in police officers. The Government have cut £1 billion from police budgets since 2015, taking 7,500 frontline police officers and 2,800 Community Support Officers off our streets. As a Liberal Democrat, we will invest £1 billion to recruit two more officers for every ward in the country and restore proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and known personally to local people.

In addition, to tackle the rise in hate crimes we’d start by making all hate crimes aggravated offences, giving law enforcement the resources and training they need to identify and prevent them, and condemning inflammatory rhetoric – including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia – by those with public platforms. We would also provide funding for protective security measures to places of worship, schools and community centres that are vulnerable to hate crime and terror attacks.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

NP: We know local A&E services are under enormous pressure, with far too many patients being forced to wait more than four hours to be seen. GP services are also creaking under the strain of funding challenges and recruitment problems.

Turning the situation around will not be easy, but what is clear is that the sticking plaster approach that the Conservatives are taking has left our NHS in need of intensive care. Our health services are facing a crisis. Giving staff and patients alike the support they need will require significant investment and it’s important we are honest about how that would be paid for.

The Lib Dems plan is to put a penny on the pound of income tax to deliver a massive cash injection into our NHS.

Part of this funding would be used to ensure we tackle the urgent workforce shortages that exacerbate capacity issues. We would use this funding to increase GP training places and encourage surgeries to bring in additional nurses, physiotherapists and health professionals to help cut waiting times for appointments.

We would also target extra help for nursing students, starting with bursaries for specialties where shortages are most acute such as mental health and learning disability nursing, linked to clinical placements in areas that are particularly under-staffed.

Of course, we know training additional doctors and nurses will take time. Ensuring the NHS can recruit properly trained staff from the EU and elsewhere is crucial. We have already seen the number of nurses coming to the UK from Europe plummet following the referendum. Stopping Brexit would help us reverse this trend.

NK: Will the proposed increases in tax be able to fund the Lib Dems plans for an injection of money into the NHS to tackle issues that disproportionately affect students like mental health issues?

NP: We are currently projecting that this will raise an additional £7 billion of revenues for health services on a year by year basis. And although I think that there is certainly arguments to be made potentially for more funding, I definitely think that that is something that could be done, predominantly quite swiftly and enable an emergency injection that we can use to invest in services and staff and address staff shortages. And I think that it will be supplemented by capital funding that would also support investment in healthcare facilities as well. I completely take your point about mental health, and mental health is an element of health that has been neglected for too long, and it’s something that we’ve been campaigning for vigorously – schemes between mental health and physical health. But we also recognise that the funding and support that is required for mental health services, I think, unfortunately, again, there have been very severe constraints placed on that. I have a bit of a background in supporting the health sector. My role as the programme manager within the public sector means I have worked with hospitals around the country in terms of trying to deliver the best possible care. And I think one of the things that is really important is recognising that good health care provision is about healthcare being integrated and joint paths between primary, acute and social care. And so, I don’t think it’s just about funding. I do think it’s also about how we can support healthcare providers with joining up and integrating their care and being and having the resources available, to deliver care in the way that they feel is best, but I think it will be a strong start.

Iddrisu Sufyan (Brexit Party)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

IS: The Brexit Party has zero business rate tax on high street shops and scrapping HS2 will save £200 billion to invest in the regions .

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

IS: Students debt is high after graduation and I will cancel the 6% interest rate on student loan.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

IS: Planting more trees and encouraging other foreign countries to do same as part of the UK foreign aid budget.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

IS: Investing in young people is my priority coupled with increasing policing on the street as well as engaging young people for their concerns.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

IS: Encourage NHS staff to educate people on healthy living and preventive measures during flu season and investing in staff numbers during peak times.

Mr Sufyan declined a phone interview with The Boar.

Coventry North West

Stephen Gray (Green Party)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

SG: The most effective way to mitigate the effects of Brexit would be for us to cancel it altogether. However, this can only be done legitimately by holding another referendum, and carries the risk that the remain option will be defeated.

In the event that Brexit does happen, I would push to ensure that negotiations for the future trading agreement lead to the softest possible Brexit deal. I would also consult with businesses in the constituency to find out what specific problems Brexit will cause them and press for government action on those particular issues. I would also oppose any post-Brexit trade deals that look likely to harm Coventry businesses.

Ciara McCormack (for The Boar): How will you ensure that in the event of Brexit, businesses in Coventry will not be negatively impacted by future trading agreements?

SG: So, I guess I will just reiterate what I said in my answer. Basically, the best way to mitigate the effects of Brexit is obviously just to cancel the whole thing. To do that legitimately you obviously need to hold another referendum and for Remain to win. But obviously that’s not only the possible outcome. So if Brexit does happen, it’s basically ensuring that it’s the softest possible Brexit and pushing for government action to deal with the specific impacts on businesses in the constituency and make sure there’s communication there so we can know what the problems are.

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

SG: One of the biggest problems is the cost students face simply to attend University. I’m just old enough that when I was a Warwick student I didn’t have to pay a penny in tuition fees, and got a maintenance grant. In contrast, the current generation of students goes £9000 in debt for each year they study, and that’s not fair on you. I want to abolish tuition fees, and write off the debt from them. My party would also introduce a Universal Basic Income scheme, which would ensure that all students can afford to pay the bills whilst they study. Getting a part-time job whilst you’re at Uni should be a choice, not a necessity.

CM: Relating to the introduction of a Universal Basic Income scheme for students, how would you ensure that students do not leave higher education with high levels of debt and difficulties to securing employment?

SG: Obviously you can’t ensure that for every single student because there’s definitely going to be some who get themselves into trouble anyway. It’s basically making sure the UBI covers your living costs, get rid of the fees regime. When I was a student at Warwick, there were no fees. So yeah, that’s definitely doable.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

SG: I have already been pushing for Coventry City Council to take urgent action on the climate emergency. Whether elected or not, I will be pushing for them to take major actions to reduce the city’s carbon footprint as they review their plan over the next two years.

I will push for a Green New Deal, which my party has been talking about for a decade, to be actually implemented. We need more investment in renewable energy, insulation (particularly for rented housing), invest in public transport, help develop greener technologies (and Coventry has the potential to be a world leader in this area), and make it easier to reduce the carbon emissions from our food. My party’s plan involves an investment of over £100 billion per year to bring us down to net zero carbon emissions by 2030. The only barrier to achieving this target is a lack of political will, and whether I am elected or not I will do my best to make sure that the political will is there.

CM: You mentioned the Green Party will push for a Green New Deal. Can you elaborate on what this deal will entail?

SG: That’s about half our manifesto, but yeah, basically, we’re talking about a massive investment of £100 billion a year into green industry across the board. So renewable energy, insulation schemes. When I was renting, I lived in a flat with single-glazed windows, and I couldn’t do anything about it. But now I won’t have a reason to not do anything about it. And then things like investing in transport, public transport, walking, cycling, making sure that it’s always cheaper to take the bus, or train, or whichever is appropriate, make sure the services are actually good. Investing in green technology, Coventry, with the two universities, is a great place to build some of the green industries that we will need in the future. Greener farming, switching to organic, putting things in to make it easier for people to eat less meat and more fruit and vegetables so that it’s better for the environment. The list goes on and on and on.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

SG: In the short term, I would encourage the police to focus their resources on community policing in problem areas. But to really deal with the problem, we need a longer-term approach that deals with the root causes before they lead to actual crime. For knife crime, this means undoing cuts to youth services – ensuring that there are resources to support problem children, and alternatives to gang culture. For hate crime, we need to change the tone of national media and social media. I will consistently challenge politicians who use inflammatory rhetoric, push for effective press regulation, and try to ensure proper and effective regulation and moderation of social media. I also would push for reforms to the justice system to ensure that the focus is on rehabilitation and restorative justice rather than punishment, to reduce reoffending rates.

CM: There has been an increase in knife crime in Coventry. You said that you have long-term plans to tackle this. Does the Green Party have any short-term measures to implement to reduce the rise in knife violence?

SG: In the short term, it’s basically trying to equip the police. There’s also things like our policy of ending the war on drugs. The prohibition doesn’t work, it wastes police’s time. Decriminalising possession frees up more time to deal with more serious issues.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

SG: I would press for a large increase in NHS funding, I fully support my party’s proposal to increase spending by £6 billion per year. We would also undo the gradual privatisation of the NHS that’s happened over the last few decades, meaning that more of the NHS budget can be spent on providing actual healthcare rather than private profits and useless bureaucracy. And we would ensure that more decisions about NHS services are made locally and democratically – ensuring that healthcare in Coventry is better able to meet the needs of everybody who lives here – student or not. If we are not in government, I will lobby whoever is to match these commitments. If we are not in government, I will pressure the party who is to make these changes.

CM: Relating to the Green Party ensuring more decisions to the NHS services are made locally, can you elaborate on how you will do this and what the outcome will be?

SG: Basically, start by taking the basic structures which include representatives from councils and other local groups, and making sure they and the health and wellbeing board have more power over the provision of local services. Transferring as much as possible for things to be done from the bottom up, and applying that to the NHS.

Greg Judge (Liberal Democrat)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

GJ: As the Liberal Democrat MP for Coventry North West, the very first thing I would do is all I possibly can to STOP BREXIT. We’ve put down numerous amendments for a People’s Vote in the Commons but Labour has simply refused to back it.

Stopping Brexit would mean our local and national economies wouldn’t have to suffer the impact of Boris’s Deal. Government own estimates state a deal such as his would strip 6.7% from the UK’s expected path of GDP growth between now and 2034. Only this month has the British car industry, so dear to Coventry, warned that a potential no-deal Brexit (still possible at the end of 2020 with Boris), would signal a cost of more than £40bn in lost production by 2024.

Staying in the European Union will secure a £50 billion Remain Bonus, with the economy two per cent larger by 2024-25. We can invest that bonus in our schools, and on tackling in-work poverty and inequality. The Liberal Democrats would introduce a capital £50 billion Regional Rebalancing Programme for infrastructure spend across the nations and regions of the UK, with local and devolved authorities given a say in how it is used, reinforced by a Just Transition Fund to support communities negatively affected by policies to tackle the climate emergency.

In Coventry North West, I would like to see our local and regional leaders take advantage of the Browns Lane Plant site, the industrial Prologis Park and our core group of automotive and aerospace supply chain companies. True, it’s not what it used to be in Coventry but given the fantastic transport links and the freight capacity at Coventry and Birmingham Airports – our constituency is best placed to drive the electric revolution in battery technology for cars, lorries, homes and planes.

Ciara McCormack (for The Boar): How would you respond to those who call your party’s views on Brexit ‘undemocratic’?

GJ: I think it’s quite clear that when it comes to Brexit, people have different opinions on what we should do next. I think that it’s really important that we all work together to find a consensus as to how we can move forward with our relationship with Europe. Revoking Article 50 is only a possibility if we are over 326 MPs and are able to form a majority government. Otherwise, our plan is to continue with our current approach of supporting a People’s Vote to give people a vote on whether to Leave or Remain like in 2016, a vote on the final say of how our relationship with Europe should look.

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

GJ: I think a significant problem for a long time has been the living costs for students whilst studying at university. With the economy in a better place now (bar Brexit), the Liberal Democrats would reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students, ensuring that living costs are not a barrier to disadvantaged young people studying at university.

Student accommodation is also a concern, both the cost of it and the quality of the properties provided by private landlords. Personally, I would not want to see any university student living in accommodation, on-campus or from a private provider, that does not have direct oversight and monitoring from a local university. If landlords wish to welcome students, those properties should be student-only accommodation and universities should have the duty to inspect properties and if necessary, fine landlords housing their students.

The current state of the HE sector is also of concern with many former polytechnic universities starting to struggle to deliver balanced budgets. So many universities depend on international student cohorts and Brexit risks turning them away to other global institutions in the US and across Europe. We need to work with the wider sector to ensure the economics of our HE model continue to be sustainable in the longterm.

CM: Aside from maintaining links with international students, how else would you ensure universities are properly funded?

GJ: The Liberal Democrats have committed – following the election, should we be in government – to have a review of the higher education sector in similar fashion to social care. It’s an issue that needs consensus amongst all the main parties. There needs to be a sustainable outcome for the funding mechanism for universities. Although, one thing I would just reiterate: I am concerned about a lot of the polytechnic universities and their financial sustainability, because we are seeing that a lot of international students is causing budget issues across that category of universities. There is a possibility that the government will face a very difficult decision as to whether they need to bail them out. The Liberal Democrats will look at all these issues.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

GJ: Climate change risks changing all our lives for the worse, much worse, and just like the air itself, it won’t start or stop at the boundary lines of Coventry North West. There needs to be a national approach to a zero-carbon future, backed by a truly global effort.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party dedicated to building a brighter future by tackling the environmental crises. We will invest £100 billion over the next Parliament to tackle the climate emergency, working to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the very latest and halve emissions by 2030 compared to today.

The crisis in our environment is honestly bigger than Brexit, bigger than the state of the economy or how the NHS is coping – as vitally important as those issues are. Once we start going over these ecological tipping points, the world we live will be irrevocably changed forever. The Liberal Democrats will pass a Nature Act, create an Office of Environmental Protection and a new Air Quality Agency – introducing real legal powers to delivering a green future.

Upgrading our housing stock, including all new houses being built to zero-carbon standards by 2021 is vitally important. As well as a concerted war on plastics, we will establish a ‘blue belt’ of marine protected areas covering at least 50 per cent of UK waters by 2030, and plant 60 million trees every year, increasing UK forest cover by 1 million hectares by 2045.

CM: In your plans to tackle climate change, would you regulate local businesses to ensure compliance with environmental targets, or leave them free to make their own efforts?

GJ: There does need to be an increase in regulation if we are going to realise a net zero emissions future by 2045. The Liberal Democrats would like to achieve that sooner rather than later, providing everything is in place in terms of small businesses and SMEs within Coventry and elsewhere. We have to all contribute towards a carbon zero future. There is going to have to be a contribution from all types of businesses. Liberal Democrats are looking at introducing an Office of Environmental Protection, and that will have legal powers that will look at all types of our economy. In terms of the very smallest businesses, we will, I’d like to think, and I will advocate to look favourably on how that transition works, but that will come a point where there will be capital investment needed from many sectors, and there will have to be a change of processes that could ultimately may be costly to businesses. In some cases, even if we stretch that over a longer period, that will still be difficult. But that’s just the reality, unfortunately.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

GJ: I would look closely with Local and Regional Government to adopting a public health approach to knife crime, in which the police work with those in the health, education and social work sectors to prevent young people falling prey to gangs and violence. As part of the Liberal Democrat investment of £1 billion to restore community policing, our Government would deliver two new police officers in every ward which is essential for community policing and relations. Hate crimes are on the rise and to start properly tackling this, the Liberal Democrats would make them all aggravated offences, giving law enforcement the resources and training they need to identify and prevent them.

CM: How central to combatting knife crime do you believe increased police presence is?

GJ: Community is incredibly important when it comes to having that relationship with groups, and community within any constituency. The Liberal Democrats are going to be increasing the number of police. So, there are two more community police officers in every ward in the country. However, it is not just a question of police numbers that will be an approach to knife crime. That includes food services within an area, and I’ve been quite impressed with what Glasgow have been doing on that public health agenda by bringing in social services, the education department, health and wellbeing services to look a multi-factored approach which is showing up, and I would like to be that adopted in Coventry and elsewhere as well.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

GJ: The NHS only used to be under serious pressure in the winter months but what we are seeing now is that this intense level of service demand is an all-year-round reality for frontline staff, in both primary and secondary care.

The Liberal Democrats will work to end the GP shortfall by 2025 by both training more GPs and making greater appropriate use of nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists, and also phone or video appointments, where clinically suitable. This will also mean ensuring General Practice is an attractive route for junior doctors and improving the work/life balance that many GPs currently do not have.

Pressures on A&Es are worsening and as with many healthcare issues, the causes are multifactorial. A lack of integrated care pathways is resulting in some patients attending A&E where primary and community care can support them. A social care sector that is in crisis is preventing patients who are ready to be discharged from actually leaving the hospital, creating knock-on effects for A&E admissions. Similarly, the immense number of staffing vacancies is putting more pressure on existing clinincal teams.

The Liberal Democrats will raise £7 billion a year additional revenue which will be ring-fenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services. This revenue will be generated from a 1p rise on the basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax. We will also STOP BREXIT, which is so critical to attracting and retaining global health professionals who are already working to keep the NHS and social care sector at their current service standards.

CM: In the case where your party does not win a majority at the election, but you are elected as an MP, how will you fight for improvements to the NHS on a local level?

GJ: I work on NHS policy in my day job. Currently, if I was elected as an MP, I would use that experience providing I wasn’t a member of the government as you suggest, to work with the regional and local leaders in Coventry, whether it was the health and wellbeing board, the local CCG, the mayoral office, etcetera, to identify where are the pressures within our local health services. And I think, ultimately, taking a public health approach towards social issues and deprivation that exists within Coventry. The surrounding region is incredibly linked to public health and the health of our community. So, if you invest in that, you can ultimately reduce costs in other areas of public services as well.

Written answers from the candidates are presented as they were given to The Boar. Interviews with candidates for Coventry South, Kenilworth and Southam as well as Warwick and Leamington are linked accordingly. You can view all of The Boar‘s interviews with local candidates here.

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