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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Ashworth in 'national strategy' pledge to support children whose parents are alcoholics or drug users

Written by Jon Vale

Jonathan Ashworth has said Labour would develop the first strategy to help children whose parents are addicts.

In a personal speech at the party's conference, the shadow health secretary recalled his own childhood with an alcoholic father.

"Recently, I chose to speak out very personally about my own circumstances, growing up with a dad who had a drink problem. He was an alcoholic," he told party activists in Brighton.

"His drinking hung over all of my childhood. I remember coming home, the fridge was filled with only bottles of drink, spending many evenings with him where all he would do was drink until he fell asleep.

"Things got so bad in his later years that he felt he couldn't come to my wedding, because he was too embarrassed.

"I tell you this story not for your indulgence or sympathy, but because there are two million children growing up with an alcoholic parent, 335,000 children grow up with a parent with drug abuse issues.

"So as part of our assault on child ill health, I will put in place, with your support, the first ever national strategy to support children of alcoholics and drug users and we'll invest in addiction treatment and prevention as well."

Mr Ashworth (pictured) said £43 million would be slashed from alcohol and drug addiction treatment services this year.

The shadow health secretary received a standing ovation in the main conference hall as he pledged to "end Tory privatisation" of the NHS.

"A Labour government will legislate to reinstate the secretary of state's responsibilities to provide universal care, we'll reintegrate the NHS, reverse the Health and Social Care Act, fight the fire sales of hospital assets and end Tory privatisation," he said.

Mr Ashworth said Labour would end so-called sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), integrate health and social care and allocate an extra £45 billion for the NHS and social care sector.

He added: "To avoid another winter like the one we've just had, we would establish a half billion pound emergency winter fund, so that patients and their families never have to suffer like that again."

Labour would also end the public sector pay cap in the NHS, Mr Ashworth said, as well launching "an all-out assault on child ill health too".

He went on to criticise Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, saying: "Last week Jeremy Hunt ordered hospital bosses to a summit where they were instructed to chant 'we can do this'.

"It's absolutely true, you can't make things like this up.

"But you know something? The NHS doesn't need silly Jeremy Hunt gimmicks, the NHS needs a Jeremy Corbyn Labour government."

Shadow mental health minister Barbara Keeley accused the Conservatives of failing families as well as social care users.

Ms Keeley told the conference the "crisis" in mental health and social care was one "made in Downing Street", and claimed the Tories were "failing people across the country".

"They are failing those who need care and their families, they are failing unpaid family carers and they are failing hundreds of thousands of care workers."

She said "nearly half a million fewer people getting publicly-funded care since the Tories came to office", while there were "over a million older people with unmet care needs".

"But this Tory Government isn't just failing social care users, it's failing their families too.

"Hundreds of thousands of unpaid family carers are now struggling to balance work and care -and it's failing hundreds of thousands of care staff, because under the Tories, too often they are under-paid, under-trained and under-valued, and that's not acceptable."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire.