“No time to lose” in fight to end number one cause of pain say Easington MP Grahame Morris

Arthritis Research UKGrahame Morris MP has called for more to be done to end the suffering for thousands of local people living with arthritis.

The MP has committed to fight alongside the charity, Arthritis Research UK for a fair deal for people with arthritis during the Government’s Spending Review.

Arthritis is the number one cause of pain and disability in the United Kingdom, with 10 million people living with the pain of arthritis.

Mr Morris has pledged to champion a fair deal for people with arthritis. The MP has written to the Chancellor George Osborne, asking him to:

  • Protect the exemptions for benefits for people with disability from the freeze on working age benefits
  • Maintain and then invest more money in local public health services that help keep people healthy
  • Commit to the search for a cure for arthritis by protecting and then increasing investment in medical research

Speaking about the campaign, Grahame Morris MP said:

“I am delighted to join the charity Arthritis Research UK in the campaign to deliver a fair deal for people with arthritis.

“Arthritis affects a huge number of people and is the number one cause of pain and disability in the UK. These are painful conditions which can have a massive impact on every aspect of people’s lives.

“On November 25th the Government has the chance to transform the lives of over 10 million people, and take big steps forward to create an environment where we can both prevent and cure these conditions. There is no time to lose: people with arthritis living in the Easington Constituency need to see urgent action from the Government.”

Dr Liam O’Toole, chief executive officer of Arthritis Research UK, said:

“I’m delighted that Grahame Morris has committed to championing people with arthritis. We need their help to deliver a fair deal for people with arthritis as the Government makes tough choices around its spending.

“Our Arthritis Research UK manifesto ‘Prevent, Transform, Cure’ sets out an exciting vision for the future of arthritis, calling for policy changes to support the prevention, transformation and cure of musculoskeletal conditions. People living with the condition now need to see action from their politicians.

“There is much that can be done: but we can’t do it alone. We need to work in partnership to ensure the needs of people with arthritis is firmly on the political agenda”

The Missing Million

Labour’s Missing Million campaign has now reached the home stretch. We have less than a week to go to get as many people as possible registered by the 20th November to ensure they get counted on the 1st December electoral register.

The new system of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) changes how you register to vote. In the past, it was possible for a family member or your university to register you to vote. But now, you need to take action to do it yourself. The problem is the Tories have rushed these changes through and have not properly informed voters.  As a result up to a million people may not have even realised and risk falling off the register.

We can’t sit by and watch this many people lose the right to vote. We must do everything we can before the deadline to make sure that everyone who wants to vote in future elections can.

We can’t sit by and watch this many people lose the right to vote.

Young people and students are amongst the groups worst affected, alongside people in BAME communities, private renters or those in low-paid work.

On top of this, the number of people registered in December will be the basis for changes to parliamentary constituencies next year – meaning that areas where fewer people are registered to vote could lose representation. It’s a cynical attempt by the Tories to rig the system in their favour – we’ve got to do something about it.

It’s really easy to register, just visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and in three minutes you will be done.

In these final days we are asking you to spread the word and tell as many people as you can. Even if this government want to play around with the boundaries, we’ve got to make sure that our democracy can be saved.

Grahame Morris MP supports launch of leading hearing loss report

Grahame Morris MP Hearing MattersLocal MP Grahame Morris attended the Westminster launch of Hearing Matters, the state-of-the-nation report on hearing loss, released by UK charity Action on Hearing Loss.

The report comprehensively details the scale and impact of deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss, revealing that the prevalence of hearing loss has increased to 11 million (one in six) in the UK, with a further forecasted increase to 15.6 million (one in five) by 2035 due to an ageing population.

Grahame Morris MP said: “The Hearing Matters report makes it clear to NHS commissioners, employers, and the government that we need to tackle hearing loss as a major public health condition. I fully support the recommendations made in the report, that we as a nation need to urgently plan to meet the needs of this increasing number of people with hearing loss, massively increase funding into research into treatments, and to safeguard the provision of hearing aids – which provide a demonstrable lifeline to those who use them.”

Paul Breckell, Action on Hearing Loss Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that Grahame Morris MP attended the launch of our report, and is supporting our aim to ensure that those with deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss in his constituency are not denied the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.”

Jonathan Gardner, Chief Executive, Boots Hearingcare added: “Our colleagues at Boots Hearingcare are hugely proud of our partnership with Action on Hearing Loss and we are delighted to have been able to sponsor this latest edition of Hearing Matters, which I am sure will have a profound impact in ensuring that the voice of the hearing care sector is heard both in government, the health service and elsewhere in society.”

To read ‘Hearing Matters – why urgent action is needed on deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss across the UK’, please visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/hearingmatters.

Stay Well This Winter roadshow comes to North East to help local residents prepare against the cold weather

Roadshow will advise key at risk groups on how to ward off common cold weather illnesses

The Stay Well This Winter roadshow is set to visit the North East this month to give local residents advice and tips on how to prepare against the cold weather and stay well over the colder months.

The roadshow is on from 9am – 5pm and visits:

  • St Cuthbert’s Walk, Chester-le-Street, Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 November
  • Thames Centre, Newton Aycliffe, Friday 13 and Saturday 14 November
  • Byron Place, Seaham, Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 November

The roadshow is part of the Stay Well This Winter campaign, a joint initiative from NHS England and Public Health England. The campaign and this roadshow aims to help the public, and in particular those with long-term conditions and those over 65, prepare for winter and ward off common winter illnesses so they do not require a visit to the hospital.

The Stay Well This Winter campaign began in October with a national flu vaccination programme for children. This year the programme is being extended to children in school years 1 and 2, and aims to help 3 million children between the ages of 2 and 6. For the first time, the youngest primary school children in 17,000 schools will be eligible to receive the free nasal spray vaccine, making this the largest school-based vaccination programme ever in England.

As in previous years, the adult flu vaccine will also be offered for free to those in groups at particular risk of infection and complications from flu which are:

  • Pregnant women
  • Those aged 65 or over
  • Those aged under 65 with long-term conditions
  • People who receive a carer’s allowance or who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if they are ill

As well as protecting against flu, the Stay Well This Winter campaign will give advice on how to avoid common illness to people over 65 or those with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease or respiratory illness.

At the roadshow events, expert advice and support will be provided from the roadshow nurse and staff, in addition, leaflets and posters will inform the public about some of the key actions which will help people stay well this winter including:

  • Information on how to get the flu jab if eligible
  • Keeping yourself warm – heat your home to least 18 degrees C (or 65F) if you can
  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious
  • Making sure you get your prescription medicines before pharmacies close on Christmas Eve
  • Always taking prescribed medicines as directed

Paul Davison, Deputy Director, Health Protection for PHE North East said:

“Winter weather can cause real health problems and for some of us, these can be very serious. But there are some things we can do to protect ourselves. One of them is making sure we get our flu jab, particularly those over 65, pregnant women, children aged 2-4 and in school years 1 and 2 and people with long-term health conditions who are more at risk of complications. If you are in any of these groups you can get the jab free from your GP or local pharmacist.  Stay well this winter.”

Dr Craig Melrose, Medical Director, at NHS England Cumbria and the North East, said: “We want people to stay well this winter and to seek early advice or care if they start to feel poorly. Older people in particular can deteriorate quickly and end up needing more serious treatment.

“With winter inevitably comes the cold weather, but by keeping warm and speaking to a pharmacist, GP or NHS111 advisor if you start to feel unwell, you can help prevent colds and other winter illnesses turning into something more serious.

“There are some easy steps people can take to look after themselves and their families.  During winter it’s good to have a well-stocked medicine cabinet, and adequate supplies of any prescription medication, so you can start to look after yourself straight away if it’s difficult to get out and about.”

For further information about how you and your family can stay well this winter, please visit www.nhs.org.uk/staywell.

Grahame Morris MP backs new campaign calling for local action to improve access to diabetes education

Diabetes UKEasington MP, Grahame Morris, is backing a new campaign by Diabetes UK that calls for local action to ensure that all people with diabetes have access to the education and support they need to manage their diabetes well.

The charity is launching a new campaign, Taking Control, to call for education for all people with diabetes to be commissioned everywhere, along with a proper local system that explains to people with diabetes the benefits they will gain from attending an education course and ensures that courses are well run.

At the moment for individuals newly diagnosed with diabetes, less than 1 per cent of people with Type 1 and just 3.8 per cent with Type 2 are recorded as receiving a diabetes education course.

Access to high-quality diabetes education is essential for people with diabetes as they have to manage their condition themselves on a daily basis, and may only see their healthcare professionals a few times a year.

The charity has warned that the poor delivery of diabetes education is fuelling devastating health complications for people with the condition and huge costs to the NHS. This is because failure to manage diabetes effectively can lead to life-threatening complications such as blindness, stroke and amputations. These complications cause personal devastation and are also extremely costly. The NHS spends nearly £10 billion annually on diabetes, 80 per cent of which is spent on treating potentially avoidable complications.

This is why Grahame Morris MP has added his voice to Diabetes UK’s campaign, which is calling for local health leaders to invest in diabetes education courses and increase the numbers of people who attend, and to promote the benefits of diabetes education to people living with the condition.

Grahame Morris MP said: “Diabetes is a very serious condition that can lead to devastating complications. 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 well. This would significantly reduce their risk of health complications, resulting in a reduction in the associated costs to the already stretched NHS both here in Easington and across the country.

“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 their condition well. And I have also written to the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to check that there are plans in place to support Clinical Commissioning Groups to invest in diabetes education courses.”

Robin Hewings, Diabetes UK Head of Policy, said: “We are pleased to have Grahame Morris MP’s support for our campaign that aims to help people with diabetes get the education they need to ‘take control’ of their condition. The poor provision 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. Giving people with diabetes the support and information they need to stay healthy will save lives and money.”

The ‘Taking Control’ campaign is launching on Wednesday 11 November, ahead of World Diabetes Day on Saturday 14 November. Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #TakingControl.

To find out more about going on an education course, speak to your GP or healthcare professional. To find out more about the Taking Control campaign and how you can take action, visit www.diabetes.org.uk/taking-control

RBS and the Future of UK Banking

House of Commons Debate
RBS and the Future of UK Banking
Thursday 5th November


Grahame Morris MP meets experts to tackle emergency presentation of lung cancer

Grahame Morris MP & Dr Penny Woods BLFEasington MP Grahame Morris met with some of the UK’s leading lung cancer experts to discuss the poor state of lung cancer survival, at a British Lung Foundation report launch in Parliament today. The report, developed by a working group of lung cancer experts, outlines recommendations for tackling the emergency presentation of lung cancer. The event was supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Tackling Emergency Presentation of Lung Cancer: An Expert Working Group Report and Recommendations, published by the BLF to coincide with Lung Cancer Awareness Month, highlights that 34% of lung cancer patients in the UK are diagnosed as an emergency, when the condition tends to be more advanced and there is a reduced chance of receiving curative treatment.

Lung cancer is the UK’s biggest cancer killer, accounting for one in five of all cancer deaths. Survival rates in this country lag behind those in the rest of Europe and the US, with just one in ten patients in the UK surviving for five years post-diagnosis.

The report proposes a number of ways in which to improve this dire prognosis and enhance lung cancer patient experience, and recommendations include:

  • Funding for a national campaign (such as Be Clear on Cancer, Detect Cancer Early or Be Cancer Aware) be maintained or increased in order to raise public awareness of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer.
  • A commitment be made to rapid adoption of a targeted, evidenced-based lung cancer screening programme, as deemed effective by the UK National Screening Committee, in order to reduce the number of lung cancer patients diagnosed late and via emergency routes.
  • GPs be able to make direct access referrals for CT scans for patients with suspected lung cancer.
  • All chest x-rays and CT scans be formally reported within four days to the individual requesting them, who must act upon the result.
  • A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) be available to all patients undergoing investigations for suspected lung cancer.

Grahame Morris MP said:

“Lung cancer has a devastating impact on people in East Durham and is the UK’s biggest cancer killer. I was delighted to meet leading experts in the field today to hear about their important recommendations for tackling the high rates of emergency presentation of this terrible disease.

“Lung cancer patients diagnosed through emergency routes have a worse experience of care than those diagnosed via other routes. It is vital that we do everything we can to improve diagnosis, support and treatment for the condition, in order to ensure improved survival outcomes.

“I am delighted to be able to support the British Lung Foundation and the work of the Expert Lung Cancer Working Group in Parliament today. I will continue to fight for lung cancer patients and their families, not just in East Durham but across the country.”

Grahame Morris MP supports Pancreatic Cancer UK ahead of pancreatic cancer awareness month

Pancreatic Cancer UK 2015Grahame Morris MP attended a cross-party event at the House of Commons organised by Pancreatic Cancer UK, to help spread the word about pancreatic cancer ahead of pancreatic cancer awareness month.

There were nearly 8,800 new cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed across the UK in 2013, 372 of whom live in the North East. Tragically, only four per cent of patients live for five years or more after diagnosis. In addition to learning about these dreadful survival rates, Grahame Morris MP heard about the need for earlier diagnosis, more research funding and better access to new treatments for the disease, as well as the work being done by Pancreatic Cancer UK to fund its own research and provide support for patients and their families around the country.

Mr Morris was joined by patients and family members of those affected by pancreatic cancer, as well as specialist nurses and representatives from Pancreatic Cancer UK. MPs were told about the many local supporters taking part in Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Purple Lights for Hope events on November 1st. Some have arranged for prominent local landmarks to be lit up purple, and others will be hosting smaller events at home or in their local communities. Mr Morris showed their support for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in November by being photographed with the charity’s Purple Lights for Hope sign.

Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of all cancer deaths in the UK and currently has the lowest survival rate of all the 21 common cancers. One person dies every hour of the disease, and it is predicted that by 2030 pancreatic cancer will overtake breast cancer as the fourth most common cancer killer.

Grahame Morris MP said: “It was a pleasure to attend this event organised by Pancreatic Cancer UK, to learn more about the work of the charity and the support and research it funds. Sadly, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer speaks for itself. I know there are many people within my constituency who have been touched by pancreatic cancer and we need to do more to improve awareness of the disease, its signs and symptoms, and do more to radically improve the shockingly low survival rates. That’s why I’m supporting the charity and its Purple Lights for Hope campaign as part of pancreatic cancer awareness month this November.”

Alex Ford, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK said:We were delighted to welcome Grahame Morris MP to this important event and we thank him for his support. We hope he will help us spread the word about pancreatic cancer far and wide this November.

“It’s shocking that the number of people living for five years after diagnosis with pancreatic cancer is still just four per cent, and that figure has barely improved in the last 40 years. Yet across the UK, we know so little about the disease. We all have a role to play in raising awareness of this dreadful cancer, so people know the signs and symptoms to watch out for. I would urge local people to find out more about the disease today.”

The symptoms of pancreatic cancer include tummy pain, weight loss, yellow skin or eyes or itchy skin and oily floating poo.

For more information about pancreatic cancer, visit www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk

Grahame Morris MP supports campaign to help thousands of older people living in cold park homes

Tens of thousands of older people living in park homes (sometimes referred to as static mobile homes) are putting their health at risk as they struggle to keep warm over the winter, due to the high cost of heating this particular form of accommodation, according to research by Age UK.

Easington MP Grahame Morris added his support to the Charity’s new campaign for warm park homes at a launch event in Westminster Parliament on Wednesday 21 October. The campaign is calling on the Government to roll out a specific energy efficiency scheme to help park home residents reduce their heating bills and keep warm and well over the winter.

In the UK, around 100,000 people aged 65 plus are estimated to live in this type of prefabricated bungalow, which appeals to many older people as an attractive and seemingly more affordable option than a traditional home. Yet the reality is that those park homes that were constructed before newer building regulations kicked in – and that’s the vast majority – are very poorly insulated and off the gas grid, making them extremely difficult and expensive to heat.

Age UK’s new report ‘Don’t Leave Park Homes Out In The Cold’ looks at the challenges that park home residents face in being able to buy enough energy to keep warm, and explains why Government schemes such as the Green Deal and ECO have done very little to help.

In a new Age UK survey of over 200 park home residents aged 65 plus, over half reported they faced problems staying warm in their home over the winter months and a similar proportion said their health problems were made worse by cold weather. This is particularly worrying considering older people are more vulnerable to low temperatures and that exposure to the cold increases their risk of flu, chest infections and other respiratory problems.

Around 1 in 4 of those surveyed spent a quarter to a third of their income on heating their home – a huge amount for them considering that the majority of park home owners are retired and living on a low fixed income. The high cost of heating fuel (66%), poor insulation (67%) and being off the gas grid (49%) were cited by them as the main barriers to keeping warm. At least two out of three respondents spent such a large proportion of their income on keeping warm that they were ‘officially’ in fuel poverty according to the Government’s definition.

For those respondents facing difficulties keeping warm, four in ten reported going to bed early and twenty per cent cut back on food in an effort to pay their heating bills. Others said they sometimes wrapped themselves in blankets with hot water bottles in the daytime and only heated part of their park home – which typically wouldn’t be very big in the first place – in order to manage their energy costs.

The Age UK research found that cost is the main barrier to residents fitting insulation in their homes, with half reporting that Government schemes hadn’t helped them. Many park home owners are unable to access financial help to improve the energy efficiency of their homes because they don’t have their own individual electricity meter. This means they can’t switch to get the best deal or benefit from Government help for low income pensioners such as the Warm Home Discount.

Grahame Morris MP, said: “We know many older people really enjoy living in park homes across our area, however, very high energy costs and lack of insulation means temperatures can get very low in many of these properties over the winter months, leaving residents struggling to keep warm.

“Park home residents need support to bring their homes up to modern day energy efficiency standards to enable them to stay warm affordably over the winter. To achieve this, I fully support Age UK’s campaign calling on the Government to provide a specialist energy efficiency scheme for Park Home residents. This way they can continue to living in their homes and enjoying our wonderful area without jeopardising their health and wellbeing”.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK says: “Park homes can be idyllic in the summer but many older residents have told us that they have found to their horror that they are very poorly insulated and therefore prohibitively expensive to keep warm when it gets cold. A significant number know they can’t afford the huge bills they are racking up and so they are putting their health at risk by turning the heating down or off at when they really need the thermostat up high. The Government created schemes such as the Green Deal to assist people who can’t afford to keep warm, yet because of the kind of accommodation they are living in most park home owners have been unable to access any help, even though their homes are more likely than most to need better insulation.

“We know that the cold is a real health risk for older people – for example, they are three times more likely than younger people to suffer strokes if they do not keep warm – so it would make a lot of sense for the Government to make sure park home owners can afford to keep warm by supporting them to insulate their properties properly.

“Older people living in park homes are a small but significant group who are unfairly losing out from current Government initiatives to relieve fuel poverty and insulate leaky homes. It’s high time we brought them in from the cold.

“To achieve this we suggest investing cash leftover from the Government’s Green Deal Home Improvement Fund to set up a special scheme to help park home owners. Not only would this improve their health and wellbeing over the cold winter months, in the longer term it would help reduce illness and demands on NHS, making it a win: win for everyone.”

Easington MP backs local shopworkers and opposes Government changes to Sunday trading laws

Usdaw - Keep Sunday SpecialEasington MP Grahame Morris backed an Usdaw lobby of Parliament to oppose the Government’s proposal to devolve Sunday trading regulations.

Usdaw members, who work in retail, met with MPs to explain how extended opening in large stores will lead to even more retail staff being pressured to work longer hours on Sundays, which is why over 90% of shopworkers oppose any extension to Sunday trading hours.

Grahame Morris MP says: “The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family.

“I am convinced that shops are currently open long enough for people to do their shopping and that Sunday should remain a special day, different to any other. I oppose devolving Sunday trading because it will lead to longer opening hours.

“Extending Sunday trading does not mean customers have more money to spend, it would not create jobs and is likely to lead to the closure of smaller stores. So this is not a way to boost the local economy or help town centres. It would be detrimental to shopworkers and their families, as well as wider society, so I am pleased to be supporting Usdaw’s campaign.”

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Usdaw and our members are delighted to have the support of Grahame Morris MP and many others who value the special nature of Sunday and want to protect it. There is no great desire from shopworkers, customers, retailers or local authorities for these changes and many oppose them. We fear that devolution of Sunday trading is a solution looking for a problem.

“It is not yet clear whether the Government will seek to introduce legislation, but if they do I hope that they will abide by their promise of a proper consultation and a full parliamentary process. That would mean publication of the consultation responses and a considered reply from the Government, demonstrating that they have listened, before the introduction of any legislation to change Sunday trading.”