Cotsford Junior School gear up for Premier League Schools Tournament Final

150th Parliamentary ReceptionCongratulations to Cotsford Junior School from Horden in my constituency on winning the prestigious right to represent Sunderland AFC at the Premier League Schools Tournament Final, taking place today on the pitch at Tottenham Hotspur’s famous White Hart Lane stadium

The Premier League Schools Tournament is a long-running annual competition now with a  record 1,500 schools and 12,000 young people take part in separate Under-11 mixed and Under-13 girls six-a-side tournaments held by each of the twenty Premier League clubs. The winning school team in each category at every club’s local tournament, in our case Cotsford Park Junior School in Horden, secures the right to represent Sunderland AFC in the Final.

I am sure it will a truly memorable day for those teams that qualify for the Final, as they go through a full Premier League match day experience. The teams change in the official dressing rooms, wear their Premier League club’s full kit, take to the pitch to the official Club anthem, Prokofiev’s ‘Dance of the Knights’, have their matches officiated by top-flight referees and will receive replica trophies and medals similar to those handed to the actual winners of the Premier League title. The teams’ families and friends are invited to make up the crowd on the day, and around 1,000 people are expected to be in attendance this year.

The Premier League and the football clubs themselves are active in helping schools deliver higher quality sport to their pupils, with over 66,000 PE lessons delivered by Premier League club community staff including the much respected Foundation of Light over the course of this season. Clubs’ community departments are now not just helping schools deliver better football coaching to their young people, but also encouraging them to take up other Olympic sports such as badminton, judo, table tennis and athletics through our Premier League 4 Sport programme, run in collaboration with Sport England.

Good luck to all those participating it would be a double celebration with Sunderland securing their place in the Premier League with a draw at Arsenal last night, if Cotsford Park Junior could lift the Trophy.

New Park dedicated to local war hero

Dennis Donnini Park

I was delighted to be invited by the Easington Regeneration Partnership to the unveiling of the newest park in East Durham which has been dedicated to local war hero Dennis Donnini VC.

At only 19 years old Dennis Donnini was one of the youngest recipients of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry.

Fusilier Donnini platoon was ordered to attack a small village. Despite being wounded he continued the attack coming under intense fire. After reaching cover Fusilier Donnini went out again under intense fire to carry a wounded comrade into safety. Then for a second time, and though again wounded Fusilier Donnini advanced firing a machine-gun until a bullet hit a grenade he was carrying and killed him. Through drawing enemy fire on himself, he enabled his platoon to capture the position and overcome more than twice their number.

Easington Regeneration Partnership has recognised his bravery by naming a new park in his home village of Easington Colliery after him.

The park located at the old Pygall Coachwork site has stood empty for a number of years, amassing debris and rubbish as well as being contaminated with diesel and petrol. Through a coordinated effort by Easington Regeneration Partnership, Durham County Council and Durham University ROBUST project (Regeneration of Brownfield using Sustainable Technologies) the land has now been reclaimed and transformed into a park in order to improve the local environment for the benefit of residents.

Following the treatment to decontaminate the site the area has been re-seeded and transformed into a grassed opened space boasting excellent views looking towards the East Durham Heritage coast.

I hope we can replicate the success in other areas transforming unused land into green and open community spaces to enhance our environment, bring together local people and improve our villages.

I hope the community enjoy the park and agree with the area being dedicated to local war hero Dennis Donnini VC.

Labour must offer a vision of hope for a better Britain.

attachment-2I would like to start by thanking everyone who voted in the Easington Constituency and for all the candidates who stood and fought a very positive campaign.

I was delighted to be returned as the Member of Parliament for Easington. There are few greater honours than representing the community where you live and work.

However, as you will know, the election outcome was hugely disappointing. While the results were being declared in Easington, it had become clear that nationally the Labour Party had lost the election and by the morning David Cameron and the Conservative Party were in a position to form a majority Government.

They have wasted little time, the Chancellor announced that there will be a second Budget this year. George Osborne is able to provide details of cuts which were withheld in the pre-election Budget, including the £12 billion cuts to social security as well as outlining where the axe will fall on our public services.

The pace of cuts expected from a Tory Government will outstrip those delivered by the last government if the analysis by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies proves correct. It is difficult to imagine what will remain of our public services following the next round of cuts or the terms, conditions and wages for those who work in these services.

However, these cuts will be undertaken to coincide with laws to curtail Trade Union rights. Strike ballot thresholds and minimum turnout criteria will seek to end the right to strike, and if there are circumstances where the thresholds are met the Government have suggested they would repeal the restrictions banning employers from hiring agency strike breakers.

I had wanted to use my first column of the new parliamentary term outlining the changes and reforms of a Labour Government to create a fairer society and economy through the abolition of the bedroom tax, the end to exploitative zero hour contracts and a commitment to raising the minimum wage as well as campaigning for a living wage.

I remain committed to these priorities and the values which underpin them. I do not believe offering hope and security to the British people was the cause of Labour’s election defeat. As Labour go forward into a Leadership election I will be looking for all the candidates to offer a positive vision of a better future for Britain and the North East.

The next five years will be difficult. Labour must regroup and offer a genuine alternative to ensure that in five years’ time we do not see another Tory Prime Minister returning to Downing Street extending austerity and removing opportunities for individuals and our communities.

Easington MP backs BMA ‘Securing a healthier future for the National Health Service’ priorities.

Seaham PharmacyEasington MP Grahame Morris is backing the British Medical Association’s (BMA) ‘Securing a healthier future for the National Health Service’ six priorities for the new government to safeguard the future of the NHS.

The BMA priorities range from addressing the funding shortfall for health and maintaining safeguards for patients and doctors to removing market competition in healthcare and to prioritising public health and wellbeing.

Grahame Morris MP, a Member of the Health Select Committee in the previous Parliament, has pledged to work with the BMA to implement these priorities. Mr Morris said:

“The NHS faces unprecedented challenges with funding pressures, demographic changes, and people living with multiple chronic conditions.

The BMA have provided a clear assessment of the changes which are needed in terms of funding and removing market competition, as well as targeting vital health resources to the areas of greatest need.”

Mr Morris highlighted his concerns relating to GP services and the retirement crisis faced by the NHS, he added:

“I am concerned about the future of GP services as one in three GPs are considering retirement over the next five years. If we do not take preventative action there will be a crisis in GP provision that will disproportionately impact areas of high deprivation which are already most likely to be suffering from a shortage of GPs, despite the significant health challenges faced by these communities.

I want to work with the BMA in the current parliament to explore the only long term solution to addressing the GP shortage in areas like East Durham, which is through raising aspirations and encouraging more people from our communities to go into medicine. I believe a new generation of local GPs who share an affinity with local people would have a personal interest in improving the health and wellbeing of their own community.

In the short term we need to provide more incentives for medical students to work in areas where there are GP shortages or a shortage in particular specialities. We need practical solutions and I believe the government should consider paying tuition debts for medical students who undertake their training and a proportion of their career in areas where there is an acute need for medical services.”

Mr Morris, who may seek to continue his role as a member of the House of Commons Health Select Committee added:

“I believe the BMA have outlined key areas that should be explored further by the Health Select Committee to guarantee that in the years ahead we can build up the NHS to ensure we can deliver world-class and sustainable patient care that remains true to the founding principles of the National Health Service”


BMA – Securing a healthier future for the National Health Service

1. Addressing the funding shortfall for health

UK investment in health has slipped proportionately behind France, Germany, Denmark and Austria, and should be restored to a comparative level of GDP.

Increases in NHS funding based on unrealistic assumptions will not meet patient need. For example, an extra £8bn a year by 2020-21 overlooks the fact that an annual £22bn of efficiency savings will need to have been made by that time in order to close the £30bn funding gap on current services predicted by NHS England. There is still no credible plan, or commitment to invest enough to enable this unprecedented scale of efficiency saving to be made. A good start would be for the government to fund NHS capital projects directly and to renegotiate existing PFI contracts to ensure a better deal for the nation, bringing our hospitals back into public ownership.

2. Remove market competition in healthcare

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 was a wasteful distraction from the real challenges in delivering healthcare and should be repealed.

A truly national health service needs an accountable leader; the health secretary’s statutory responsibilities to secure and provide universal and comprehensive healthcare must be restored and explicitly stated. The bureaucracy of competitive markets in the NHS in England hinders integration and prevents providers working together around patients’ needs. The government should use the NHS as its default provider, and not allow it to be destabilised by rival commercial providers.

3. Increase, retain and value doctors

Doctors are voting with their feet in neglected areas and services; the government has to recognise the need to improve working conditions.

Increasing the numbers of doctors in understaffed specialities such as general practice, psychiatry and emergency medicine will be impossible without this. Fair pay awards require that the independence of the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Pay Review Body (DDRB) should be restored and respected. Efficiency savings targets in the NHS should no longer be met at the expense of staff pay.

4. Maintain safeguards for patients and doctors

We must not return to the age of exhausted doctors; safeguards for patients and doctors assured by the Working Time Regulations must remain in place.

Seven-day services across the NHS should only be developed in response to clear patient demand and need, most acutely in urgent hospital care. Any proposals that dramatically change ways of working must follow rigorous analysis, have clear funding plans, and have workforce arrangements that protect both patient safety and doctors’ welfare.

5. Restore investment in general practice

General practice is the bedrock of many NHS services and the gatekeeper to the rest; it plays a vital role in all communities.

Significant investment in the workforce and facilities is overdue in order to meet rising patient need, in particular, that from older patients and those living with multiple conditions. The government must work more effectively with the profession to attract motivated doctors to work in general practice, and must invest in upgrading practice premises, delivering the ambition of true community care.

6. Prioritise health and wellbeing and strengthen ill-health prevention

Unhealthy lifestyle behaviours, such as poor nutrition, smoking and alcohol consumption, have a significant impact on quality of life and life expectancy and also place a huge burden on health services.

The government must tackle these behaviours and the industries that drive them, taking effective action to reduce health inequalities across society, improve the medical and social care of children, and develop a generation-long commitment to improve the public’s health. Health and wellbeing must be prioritised in all policy areas across government.

Election 2015

This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. As Parliament has been dissolved there are no Members of Parliament until after the Election on Thursday 7th May 2015.


Grahame Morris MP calls for an end to the postcode lottery of diabetes education

Grahame Morris MP with Doreen LiversidgeThe poor delivery of diabetes education is leading to devastating health complications for people with the condition and a huge cost to the NHS, warns Easington MP Grahame Morris.

Mr Morris attended the parliamentary launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes report into the delivery of diabetes learning and support, Taking control: Supporting people with diabetes to look after their condition. The report highlights that nationally only 16 per cent of people newly diagnosed with diabetes are offered access to a formal course covering how to effectively manage their condition. And only three per cent of people newly diagnosed with diabetes actually attended one.

This is a serious cause for concern as people with diabetes have to self-manage their condition 99 per cent of the time. This can include having to monitor their food and drink intake and adjust their insulin to ensure their blood glucose levels are right. Failure to manage diabetes effectively can lead to life-threatening complications such as blindness, stroke and amputations – complications that have both great human and economic costs. The NHS spends nearly £10 billion annually on diabetes, 80 per cent of which is spent on treating complications that could often be prevented if the person got the right care and support in the first place.

There is strong evidence that giving people the knowledge and skills to manage their diabetes effectively, through a formal education course, can lead to improvements in their blood glucose control and therefore reduce long-term risk of complications.

The report highlights two key obstacles to people accessing education and support. The first is that Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the bodies responsible for health in local areas, simply are not commissioning formal education courses in their areas, which means patients do not have the chance to attend a course.

The second problem is that even when formal education courses are offered, they do not always meet the individual needs of people living with diabetes. For example, many of them are held at times that are inconvenient for people who work. And in some instances, healthcare professionals do not recognise the value of education programmes and so do not effectively promote them to their patients.

Evidence gathered by the Group also revealed a lack of ongoing support after diagnosis, such as refresher courses and more informal styles of learning like online tools and peer-to-peer support.

To ensure that everyone living with diabetes has the skills and confidence they need to manage their condition, the report recommends that:

  • CCGs commission convenient and high-quality structured education courses and offer top-up modules for all who wish to attend.
  • CCGs offer other learning opportunities about diabetes, and support through peers, groups, ‘taster sessions’ and online courses and communities.

The report highlights that commissioning convenient and high-quality education is in line with the commitment made in the NHS Five Year Forward View. The View commits the NHS to investing in group-based education and peer-to-peer support for people with long-term conditions.

At the event Grahame Morris also met with Durham diabetes campaigner, Doreen Liversidge, who has Type 2 diabetes. Doreen urged Mr Morris to work with local health leaders to ensure that everyone with diabetes has access to high-quality diabetes education and support to help them manage their condition.

Doreen Liversidge said: “I was delighted to meet with Grahame Morris as it gave me the chance to raise my concerns about how difficult it can be for people with diabetes to get the support and information they need to manage their condition effectively.

“I attended an education course and the experience was empowering. I now feel confident managing my diabetes, but sadly too many people with the condition are not given this opportunity. This is leading to thousands of people with diabetes developing life threatening health complications such as stroke and amputations.

“This is why I have directly appealed to Grahame Morris to help ensure that everyone with diabetes in Easington has access to good quality diabetes education and support.”

Grahame Morris said: “It was really good to meet with Doreen to hear about her concerns about what types of learning and support are available to people locally. Doreen made it clear that people with diabetes have to manage their condition on their own day in, day out, and failure to manage the condition effectively can be devastating. This is why it is crucial that all people with diabetes have access to the support and education they need to help them manage their condition. This would also significantly reduce their risk of health complications and would reduce associated costs to the already stretched NHS.

“While some areas are providing good care, action is needed so that all people with diabetes receive quality healthcare no matter where they live. This is why I will be talking to local NHS leaders about what can be done to help ensure everyone with diabetes in Easington gets the education and support they need to manage the condition.”

Robin Hewings, Diabetes UK Head of Policy, said: “We would like to thank Grahame Morris and Doreen Liversidge for their support.

“The poor delivery of diabetes education is fuelling a health crisis that is leading to soaring rates of debilitating complications, premature death and huge costs to the NHS. We know that some areas are delivering education and support effectively and we now need to see the NHS getting better at sharing and replicating best practice across all areas. Giving people with diabetes the support and information they need to manage their condition safely and effectively can save lives and money.”

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “We are thankful to Grahame Morris for getting behind this issue – which is of vital importance both locally and nationally.”

She added: “Some pockets of NHS diabetes care offer excellent support. But this report highlights that many areas are still underperforming and doing a disservice to people with the condition. We’ve heard first hand from our supporters that there needs to be a change in focus – such as more education on the different type 1 diabetes technology available.

Extreme and Dangerous Spending Cuts

vote 4 NHS

The Chancellor’s final budget was less than twenty hours old before Liberal Democrat Treasury Ministers’ tried to disown it by presenting an alternative ‘yellow’ budget, before abusing parliamentary privilege to deliver it as a Ministerial statement.

However, no matter how many Budgets the Government presents none of them can hide from the fact that the Coalition has failed their own economic test to balance the books within a single parliament and the Tories and Lib Dems will go into the next election having borrowed £200 billion more than planned.

The Chancellor’s broken promise means that instead of delivering a Budget announcing the end of austerity, he is now planning cuts to public services which are deeper than any in the last parliament. In the next three years the Tories have promised to cut public services at almost twice the level of the last three years.

The NHS was one of the key areas that was notably absent from the Chancellor’s Budget. He proposed nothing to end the A&E crisis, address the issues of GP access, tackle understaffed wards, or reverse cuts in elderly care which has meant more people presenting at A&E. Worse still, the extreme levels of spending cuts proposed by the Chancellor have never been achieved in other countries without cutting health spending.

The Government have already broken their promises on the NHS in this parliament, and we cannot risk the future of the NHS to a Chancellor wanting to return public spending to their lowest level since 1938.

The NHS cannot afford five more years of Cameron and Osborne taking us down a path of extreme austerity at a time when we need to integrate health and social care, to provide a single joined up service from home to hospital.

We need a Labour Government with a plan to invest and improve our NHS. Through our time to care fund we will recruit 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 new home care workers and 3,000 more midwives, funded through mansion tax on properties worth over £2 million, cracking down on tax avoidance and a levy on tobacco companies.

The next election will determine the long term future of our National Health Service and there is a very clear choice. The Conservative’s promising extreme cuts, who broke their promise and implemented a top down reorganisation which opened up the NHS to full scale privatisation, or a Labour alternative promising to protect and invest in our NHS.

Westminster Hall Debate – Nurses and Midwives: Fees

westminster hallGrahame M. Morris (Easington) (Lab): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Havard; regrettably, it may well be for the last time in this Parliament.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr Anderson) on securing this debate and the Backbench Business Committee on allocating the time. It is on an important issue, and the reason I wish to participate in it is because I serve on the Health Committee and we have looked at this issue on a number of occasions as part of our annual accountability hearings. Indeed, we produced a report, which my hon. Friend referred to; it was the fifth report of Session 2013-14, and the reference is HC 699. It is an excellent piece of work. The Committee went into some detail, covering many issues mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon and making recommendations about how best to proceed.

I do not want to repeat the arguments, but it might be useful to put into context the report and the concerns that have been raised. Constituents of mine who are nurses and midwives have written to me individually, quite apart from the petition. I think many hon. Members throughout the country have had similar representations.

There is an issue about fairness in respect of this considerable increase in fees, and about how the increases have come about. There is also an issue about whether those who are required, by the nature of their employment, to be registered should be placed into financial hardship, as has happened in some cases, particularly with women returners who are working limited, part-time hours. We all agree with registration, to maintain public confidence and trust in the nursing profession. However, there is an issue about whether some allowance should be made for them, in terms of a reduction in their fees.

As my hon. Friend indicated, the nursing and midwifery professions are among the oldest established and longest regulated professions in the United Kingdom, with regulation taking many forms over the last century. The current regulator, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which has given evidence to the Health Committee, has been in operation since 2002. As we have heard, it is the statutory regulator for more than 670,000 nurses and midwives. The £67 million figure relating to its income is an old one, because it now receives more than £70 million.

In 2011, the Health Committee began holding annual accountability hearings in relation to the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Prior to that, our concentration was essentially on the regulation of the medical profession, with the General Medical Council. We have since widened the scope of the annual accountability hearings. In its report on the first annual accountability hearing with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Committee expressed concerns

“about the affordability of the registration fee”.

This has not just popped up: we have identified it as a trend since 2011. In that report, the Committee urged the Nursing and Midwifery Council

“to avoid further fee rises and to consider fee reductions for new entrants to the register”.

However, there have been fee rises since then. When I was first elected, the fees were £76 and they increased to £100 in February 2013. The further rise to £120 a year—that would probably account for the increase in revenue—would mean a 52% fee increase, at a time when nurses and midwives are experiencing severe and unsustainable pay restraint. These problems are further compounded by the decision of the Government and the Secretary of State for Health to veto the 1% NHS pay rise, denying a pay increase to 70% of nursing staff and ignoring the view of the independent pay review body. I want to place on record that the incredible work and effort of our nurses and midwives do is of great value, and I want to say how much that is appreciated throughout the country.

Ms Ritchie: My hon. Friend is making a compelling case for the career position of nurses and midwives. Does he agree that the Nursing and Midwifery Council, as well as the Government, should be encouraging people into the profession, rather than providing disincentives, discouraging them from joining it and from training for such vital roles that will benefit all within the wider community?

Grahame M. Morris: I agree wholeheartedly. All across the country—certainly in my area—efforts are made, and have been made consistently, to recruit good quality staff. Often recruitment is done overseas, with adverts being placed in newspapers in countries that train good quality nurses and midwives, but have a surplus. It often strikes me as bizarre that although we have a reservoir of women returners, we not making it as easy as possible for them to return. Doing that would be in the interests of the service and of the country. It would be a false economy to continue doing what we are doing.

Sir Alan Meale: I am here today because my sister is a midwife and has been a nurse all her adult life. This is not just about times of restraint and restrictions on pay; there has also been a thorough re-grading of the whole nursing and midwifery system throughout the UK, which has already re-graded many nurses to lower grades than previously. They are experiencing a double whammy, and this is the third time they have been hit with a fee rise. We should not approve it.

Grahame M. Morris: I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s intervention. That is another excellent point, well made. Pressures are being placed on the NMC, including increases in its costs, that are placing a greater strain and burden on nurses and midwives. The Government have to recognise that. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon has reservations about whether the Government supporting the NMC with one-off grants would impact on its impartiality. I do not think that should necessarily follow. We should recognise the considerable pressures being placed on it financially, not least those arising out of public concerns and the recommendations of the Francis report. We want the public to be confident that the profession is properly regulated and that the fitness to practise procedures are operating properly and effectively. However, I agree with my hon. Friend. There was a ministerial statement last Thursday regarding untoward practices highlighted in a report, including bullying of staff and so on, in a hospital in east London—I think it was the Barts Health Trust. If fitness to practise referrals are being used by employers in that way, it is reprehensible and is adding to the strains and pressures on the NMC.

The latest fee increases are being imposed on nurses and midwives who were extensively consulted about them. My hon. Friend mentioned the overwhelming numbers: 96%—many of us would be over the moon to have that as a vote of confidence in the general election—voted against those recommendations. However, it seems that the consultation served little purpose, other than to antagonise nurses and midwives, because the Nursing and Midwifery Council has, apparently, taken little or no regard of the views of NHS staff and has pressed ahead with the fee increase.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has also failed to provide any assurances that the latest increase will not be followed up by further increases in coming years. As my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Sir Alan Meale) mentioned earlier, if we are to encourage people to come back into the profession, they have to know that the regulator has a reasonable, cost-effective process in place. The Nursing and Midwifery Council stated in evidence to the Health Committee last year that it had introduced an

“annual formal review of the fee level”,

so it is not necessarily an ongoing commitment. However, we have to ask: why has there been such a huge increase, of more than 50%, in a relatively short period?

Clearly the Nursing and Midwifery Council must meet its statutory obligations. We would expect that as Members of Parliament—and the public would certainly that—for maintaining professional standards. Certainly more needs to be done to remove the constraints it faces through the fitness to practise process—a number of hon. Members have highlighted that—which is too costly. Seventy-seven per cent of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s income of more than £70 million is being spent investigating less than 1% of the nurses and midwives on the register. That is an incredible sum of money, and I find it difficult to comprehend how that can be an efficient use of resources.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is making progress—I recognise that, and certainly the Committee recognised it, although it said it thought the progress was “fragile”. The NMC recognises past failures—not least in IT systems—and is seeking to overcome some of them, but it is clear that further improvement is required. An assessment by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care—the organisation that oversees all the professional regulators—has found that the Nursing and Midwifery Council is failing to meet seven of the 24 standards of good regulation. By any measure, I would suggest that there is still a long way to go in bringing it up to standard. Of those seven failures, two relate to fitness to practise.

While it is important that improvements continue to be made, it is wrong to expect nurses and midwives to bear the burden of the costs by themselves, particularly when we have seen the value of their pay fall in real terms over the life of this Parliament. The Government cannot sit idly by and allow continual increases in fees without taking action or giving some guidance. We hear Ministers time and again praising the hard work and dedication of nurses, and I hope the Minister will do that at the conclusion of the debate. Nurses do an amazing job in the most difficult circumstances, but when it comes to pay, pensions or professional fees, the kind words of Ministers seem to be rarely followed up by practical action that would help NHS staff.

In conclusion, I hope the Minister will say what steps he is taking to support the Nursing and Midwifery Council to ensure that it can continue to drive through the improvements we all want to see without having to increase the fees and the cost of employment for nurses and midwives. I also hope that he will address the points made by my hon. and right hon. Friends on the need to speedily bring forward the law commissioners’ sensible and well thought out proposals on the NMC. I would be interested if he could explain why they have not been brought forward before now.

Easington MP calls for action to improve cancer survival rates.

CyberKnifeEasington MP Grahame Morris has called for more progress to improve cancer survival rates after the latest statistics show the UK lagging behind the rest of Europe.

The best one year cancer survival rate in Europe is 81%, in comparison to the UK national average of 68%. However, figures for Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group show that local cancer survival rates remain below the national average.

One of the key reasons for the UK’s lower survival rate is that many cancers are not diagnosed early enough. Currently, 1 in 5 patients are diagnosed as an emergency, and as their cancer is by this point often more advanced, they are, on average, around twice as likely to die within a year compared with those diagnosed via an urgent GP referral.

Easington MP Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cancer Group and Health Select Committee Member Grahame Morris said:

“Early diagnosis and intervention is crucial if we are to tackle health inequalities and address the appalling state of cancer survival rates in the UK compared to the rest of Europe.

We need resources targeted towards primary care to ensure that when people experience any signs of cancer they are able to see their GP and be referred to a specialist as a matter of urgency.”

Mr Morris has also been campaigning to improve access to life-saving advanced radiotherapy, he added:

“If we are to achieve the best cancer survival rates in Europe patients need to have access to the latest cutting edge technology such as advanced radiotherapy which is proven to improve cancer outcomes.

Unfortunately, we are having to campaign to improve access to advanced radiotherapy while it is used as a matter of routine elsewhere in Europe. This is despite advanced radiotherapy being one of the most effective treatments involved in forty per cent of cases where cancer is cured.”

However, Mr Morris has warned that the break-up of the NHS risks ending all the progress made towards improving cancer services, he concluded:

“We have an important fight to ensure that the NHS is properly funded to improve cancer survival rates and continue to provide access to the best treatments.

We need to reaffirm our commitment to the NHS which is being threatened by a coalition on the right between UKIP and the Conservatives. The disastrous NHS reforms have opened up the health service to fragmentation and privatisation, while Nigel Farage calls for a US style health insurance system in private and believes wealthy patients should abandon the NHS to create a two tier health service.

How can Cameron and Farage protect the NHS and improve cancer survival rates when they are planning for the break-up of our National Health Service.”

Grahame Morris MP calls on insurers to help Easington drivers save £1,568,279

  • Grahame Morris MP calls on insurers to stop the auto-renewal rip-off
  • Eight Point Plan would put insurers back on the side of consumers
  • Drivers in Easington could save £1,568,279 by not being auto-renewed

Dalton Park electric carGrahame Morris MP is standing up for drivers in Easington, as new research commissioned by MoneySuperMarket shows that they could be losing out on savings of up to £1,568,279 a year on their car insurance because of unfair practices by insurers.

With a total national waste of £1.3 billion as drivers are coaxed to not shop around, Grahame Morris MP is calling on insurers to clean up their act and be up front with customers when they automatically renew their car insurance policies.

62 per cent of consumers say auto-renewals deter them from shopping around for a more affordable policy. And almost six million drivers (23 per cent)4 automatically renewed their car insurance with their existing provider when their policy was last up for renewal, without checking a single other quote.

The report shines a light on the poor practices of insurers, revealing that people often have no idea that they’re agreeing to auto-renewal when they first buy their policy, and would have no way of opting out even if they did. When renewal time arrives, the letter or email they get from their insurer can be confusing and misleading, and even conceal significant changes to their policy.

Cancelling an auto-renewed policy can be difficult and costly, with some providers charging cancellation fees or driving customers to expensive premium rate telephone numbers. Most insurers do not provide an online cancellation process.

Grahame Morris MP said:

“It’s unacceptable that drivers in Easington are losing out on £1,568,279 because of unclear and unfair practices by the car insurance industry. This is money many can’t afford to waste. Insurers must start being much clearer with their customers about auto-renewals, to put drivers back in control of their insurance. People shouldn’t have payments automatically taken from their accounts unless they have given their explicit consent and know how to stop them.

“This report shows that some people may be double charged, driving underinsured or simply paying too much without realising it. And the over-55s, those with less money, and people not on the internet suffer more than most. Insurers need to do more to ensure this doesn’t happen.”

Dan Plant, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket, said:

“As our report lays bare, auto-renewal is far from fair, it reduces proper competition and ultimately costs consumers big money.

“Our Eight Point Plan shows how insurers can make the auto-renewal process fairer and clearer, helping customers to save money. Simple changes such as writing renewal notices in plain English, displaying last year’s policy price against the renewal price and providing a click-through cancellation button on renewal emails will help drivers to make sure they are fully covered and not paying more than they need to.”

Eight Point Plan

To address the current failings in the auto-renewal process, and to tilt the balance of fairness back towards the consumer, MoneySuperMarket is challenging the insurance industry to adopt eight simple best practice recommendations:

  1. Consumers should be clearly asked whether they want to opt-in to auto-renewal when first buying their policy;
  2. Cancelling auto-renewal should be really simple when people receive their renewal notice. Such as a click-through button on emails or a simple cancellation form sent with the letter;
  3. Last year’s policy price should be displayed clearly on renewal notices, next to the new price;
  4. Any significant changes to policies – such as the imposition of a larger excess or removal of breakdown cover – should be clearly displayed on renewal notices;
  5. Renewal quotes should clearly include proof of any No Claims Bonus, to enable easy switching to alternative policies;
  6. Renewal notices should prominently warn customers that they must inform insurers of any changes in their circumstances, such as a new address, change in job, annual mileage or points on their licence;
  7. Renewal notices should be in plain English;
  8. People must be prominently told about the cooling off period, during which it should be free to cancel.