I AM so proud that the BBC chose Hartlepool to premier the launch of the new Doctor Who series - especially as shock, horror, the new Doctor is a woman

It's a bold move to change the gender of a character that has been on TV since 1963 -  the year I was born. I wish Jodie Whittaker all the best in her new role and hope the show continues to be a big success.

I’m sure there will be plenty of naysayers shaking their heads in disbelief, but let’s reflect on a few facts. Thanks largely to the Suffragette movement, women partially got the vote in 1918 and then fully in 1928. Women Priests were ordained for the first time in the C of E in 1994 and Women Bishops allowed in 2014, on both occasions bitterly opposed by pontificating purists.

In an age when women continue to be discriminated against in the workplace over pay and the WASPI Women are having to fight for the pensions they deserve, I say good on the BBC for this symbolic step.

I also say good on the Church because without their bold decision we wouldn’t have the fabulous Rev Verity Brown presiding over the pulpit at St Hilda’s on the Headland. Neither would we have Mother Gemma at St Aidan's.

Sadly, the BBC is one of those employers found wanting when it comes to paying women less than men for work rated as equivalent. Although they have pledged to achieve equality by 2020, that won't cut much ice with all those BBC women who are supporting the resignation of China editor Carrie Gracie over unequal pay.

Rumour has it that the Civil Service is in a similar place. Having been directly involved in negotiating multi million pound settlements in Hartlepool and surrounding councils for women in the early 2000’s I am flabbergasted that such practices still continue in this day and age.

 

THE decision by Teresa May to add social care to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's portfolio would be funny if it weren't so serious.

Few people could argue that Hunt's tenure in charge of our NHS has been anything other than a disaster. To give him more responsibility when he can't cope with the current NHS crisis is ridiculous.

Britain's NHS is on the brink of collapse. Hunt has made it worse, not better. Our social care system is in chaos. Does the Prime Minister really think Jeremy Hunt is the solution?

 

IT'S NOT just our hospitals and social care systems that are at breaking point - our ambulance services are in almost permanent crisis.

I raised an incident in a Commons question this week that is typical of what is happening all over the country.

A Constituent of mine was diagnosed with vascular dementia the week before Christmas. He collapsed on New Year's Day at tea time when an Ambulance was called. He was eventually taken to hospital at around 8.30 the following morning. A wait of over 14 hours.

This situation is frightening and totally unacceptable and so was the response to my question by minister Philip Dunne. According to the minister new category four standards will improve the service. Well, they were introduced in Hartlepool last October and I see no real improvements.

 

WELL done to independent Councillor David Riddle for having the courage to discuss his mental health problems publicly.

The more we talk about mental health, the more chance there is that the stigma is removed and people get the care they need.

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