To imagine a loved one who has been rushed to hospital waiting nervously for hours on end to find out the severity of their illness is a deeply unsettling thought.
But for more and more people, this has become the sad reality.
People routinely face long, stressful and potentially dangerous waits at A&E departments throughout the country as the latest figures reveal that waiting times have plummeted to their worst levels since records began.
At Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust – which runs Dewsbury and District, Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospitals – just 81.6% of patients who attended A&E departments in March were seen within four hours.
To put this into perspective, it means that nearly one in five patients who required urgent hospital attention were left waiting, likely anxious and in pain, for over four hours.
This cannot be right – and it has to be fixed.
The latest figures, released by NHS England, show the worst A&E waiting times since records began nationwide, with just 84.6% of people visiting A&Es being admitted, treated or discharged within the four hour target time frame in March.
Our doctors, nurses and hospital staff work tirelessly and I’m in awe of what they give to keep us healthy. But they are hamstrung at every turn by a Conservative government who refuses to acknowledge a crisis of its own making. As we have seen through the winter, Pinderfields Hospital is already under incredible pressure, and with the downgrades at Dewsbury District and the reclassification of Pontefract’s emergency department, the picture is not likely to improve.
Our NHS needs proper investment, and it needs it now. You may have seen me in the media this month with a certain Conservative Minister. And no, before you ask, I haven’t taken leave of my senses!
Tracey Crouch, the recently appointed Minister for Loneliness, visited Batley and Spen this month on a fact-finding mission to develop Government policy on how to tackle the hidden epidemic.
While I was quick to point out the damaging impact Tory cuts have had on the local provision of resources such as community centres and libraries, I felt it important to temporarily put aside our differences to push forward with the work began by my pioneering predecessor Jo Cox.
We visited two fantastic local initiatives at Windybank Community Centre in Liversedge and Chatterbox in Birstall.
On the Windybank estate, passionate local mums have pulled together to provide a vital service for families in an area where provision is sadly lacking. And the volunteer-run Chatterbox, which is a community hub, provides a lifeline for many who have nowhere else to go.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Kirklees Young Carers, a support group for younger people who have an immense responsibility on their shoulders at a very young age.
I have nothing but admiration for what they do and it was lovely to meet three local young carers - Megan, Jack and Jameal - whose resilience and dedication to their families is truly humbling.
The day’s visits demonstrated how loneliness is not something just faced by older people, it can happen to any one of us at any time.
This is why we should all do what we can to ensure no one is left feeling alone.