A petition supporting pharmacies was recently presented to 10 Downing Street containing two million signatures – the largest ever healthcare petition inthe UK (that’s 3500 concerned patients and citizens in every constituency in England).
In September we heard the welcome announcement from Pharmacy Minister David Mowat MP that cuts to pharmacy funding in England and associated ‘efficiency’ measures would be put on hold and that he would have an ongoing dialogue with the sector. Yet, just days later it emerged that cuts could begin as early as December 1st.
The results would be very damaging in neighbourhoods across England, hitting communities like Easington. It has been predicted that many pharmacies would be forced to close, and in the more immediate term we can expect to see services cut back, access reduced and planned improvements shelved. Patients, perhaps especially housebound patients, will be the biggest losers.
I have written to the Minister and the Health Secretary urgently expressing concern about safeguarding vital services provided by pharmacies serving smaller villages and communities in Easington and throughout East Durham.
I will consistently work with my team to encourage Ministers and officials to get around the table with community pharmacy representatives as soon as possible to discuss an alternative way forward. The right approach should maximise patient choice, maintain local access to face-to-face professional advice, provide for the most vulnerable people and populations and make sure patients continue to get their medicines promptly. Overall, it should strengthen the NHS by taking pressure off the system and ensure that quality care is delivered consistently.
It is absolutely paramount that the Government are true to their commitment to take time to get things right for the sector, right for the NHS and right for patients and communities.
Fox hunting is barbaric, completely unnecessary and firmly belongs in the history books.
The 2015 Conservative election manifesto included giving MPs a free vote on scrapping the ban. However, last year instead of holding a vote the Government moved a series of amendments in an effort to weaken the Hunting Act, making it unenforceable. This was a cynical attempt to repeal the act via the back-door and thankfully due to opposition inside and outside of Parliament the Government were forced to postpone their motion rather than face defeat in the House of Commons.
The Government have made it clear that they only ‘postponed’ the vote and they remain wedded to their manifesto commitment aimed at repealing the Hunting Act.
An Ipsos MORI poll recently revealed the scale of support for maintaining the block. It showed 84% of voters do not want a return to fox hunting, while 65% would view an election candidate more favourably if they supported keeping hunting with dogs illegal.
Just nine per cent would view a candidate more favourably if they supported legalisation.
I am deeply concerned that Andrea Leadsom MP is now determined to repeal the hunting bill, which is not only against the broad public view but also makes very little sense politically.
I urge the Prime Minister to keep the hunting ban.
People in Easington need a government that can deliver the real change that working people need. They need a Government that can stand up for Britain, build a strong economy, create good homes and good jobs, and defend our NHS and public services.
But Theresa May cannot give Britain the change we need. For the last six years she has been at the heart of a Tory Government which has failed working people.
This should have been the conference where Theresa May outlined a detailed plan to secure British jobs and prosperity in face of Brexit. But for all her talk of ‘fairness’ and ‘opportunity’, all we have seen from the Tories this week is crass and offensive ‘wedge’ politics and a drive into a ‘hard Brexit’ that risks jobs and growth.
People in Easington need answers on what Brexit will mean for their jobs and rights at work, but the Tories still have no answers. They have no idea of how to deliver it, no plan for protecting our economy, and no plan to fix their broken promises.
The Tories offer no change on the economy. They may have abandoned their discredited surplus target, but they are still committed to deep, damaging cuts that will continue to hurt working people, through slower growth, poorer services and rising inequality.
Nor do they have any answers on education. Rather than dealing with chronic teacher shortages, falling school budgets and the lack of good school places, Theresa May is taking us back to the bad old days with grammar schools.
And despite their warm words, they offer no change on the NHS, just more of the same policies which are plunging the health service into crisis. Under the Tories, patients are waiting longer for care, and hospitals are overcrowded, understaffed and facing financial crisis.
Only a Labour Government will deliver the real change working people need. We will invest in the housing and infrastructure Britain needs, and develop a proper industrial strategy to secure good jobs and growth. As Britain leaves the EU, we will stand up for the benefits and investment that our EU membership currently provides.
A Labour Government will tackle the Tory housing crisis, by building over a million new homes over five years. We will stand up for the NHS, by providing the money it needs and joining up services in a properly integrated health and social care service. And we will focus on what matters most in education – good teachers in good schools – and reintroduce an Education Maintenance Allowance and maintenance grants for students from low and middle income backgrounds.
Following a worrying increase of 809% in meningococcal (group W) meningitis cases in the past 5 years, the government launched a vaccination programme to protect young people aged 14-15 through schools, and those aged 17 to 18 through their GP.
Despite the introduction of this vaccine, and the increased risk to students and young people, the uptake of the Men ACWY remains very low, with just 14% of 17 and 18 year olds within the North-East taking up the vaccine, and 17.4% across England.
Young people and particularly first year university students are at an increased risk from meningococcal bacteria which can cause meningitis and septicaemia. Early signs can go undetected, and in young people can be put down to a bout of the flu, or even a hangover.
Liz Brown, Chief Executive at Meningitis Now said:
“We welcome Grahame Morris’ support in calling on young people across the UK To get the Men ACWY vaccine. It is particularly poignant given the sad news of a student death at the University of Northumbria from Men W. Young people, especially those attending university for the first time should, if they haven’t done so already, take immediate action to protect themselves from this dangerous meningitis bug. The vaccination is free and available through GP practices for 17-18 year olds, and first year university students, up to the age of 25.”
For more information on the vaccine, or to download the signs and symptoms app for your phone visit www.meningitisnow.org
For more information visit www.MeningitisNow.org. Freephone helpline 0808 80 10 388.
A leadership election is rarely a recipe for party unity, however after Jeremy’s historic victory, we must rally together, as factionalism and internal division will mean failing the communities we were elected to serve.
Labour must unite, stop the self-indulgence and start organising at every level if we are to protect our communities.
I have seen first-hand the difference that can be made when communities organise in support of each other.
Not so long ago, I was heartened to visit a community café in Easington that was established in 2013 as Government imposed austerity began to take hold. Volunteers provide a healthy two course meal for £1. The café runs extra sessions during the school holidays offering a safe space for the whole community not just providing meals but friendship, support and social solidarity for those most in need.
The Labour Party can and must be the champion of communities like this.
Particularly when we have a Government that are intent on using Brexit as an excuse to further drive down living standards and cut the last remnants of the safety net of the welfare state to such an extent that many people are struggling to feed their families. A Tory Government that believes it is acceptable that over a million people are reliant on emergency food aid should be a clarion call to unite the left.
We have a Government that are acutely aware of the housing crisis, but are wedded to a political ideology, that refuses to build the homes so desperately needed, blocks local government from replacing council housing sold under the right to buy, and ignores the needs of communities like Horden, Easington and Dawdon that are crying out for housing regeneration. All this Government talk of devolution and localism is simply empty rhetoric to the community of East Durham whose needs have been ignored by Government and its agencies.
We have a Government that has attacked our rights at work, has undermined working people’s pensions, pay and conditions, is systematically removing our capacity to fight back and is now gerrymandering parliamentary constituencies. All workers, whether junior doctors, teaching assistants, or those facing terrible conditions at Sports Direct need a strong Trade Union movement and an effective Labour Party not only to protect rights and pay at work, but to improve pay, pensions and conditions of service in our workplaces.
We must unite, work together, and organise at every level, in our communities, our workplaces and in parliament.
If we fail to do so, hard fought gains will be squandered, our causes and issues will not be advanced, and it will be our communities that have to live with the hardships caused by a Tory Government.
The first priority in the aftermath of Jeremy’s victory, is to take the fight based around the policies that the vast majority of the party’s membership agree with to the Tories in Parliament through a competent effective co-ordinated opposition. The Labour activists planning to re-run the coup as an annual event until the party is destroyed must not prevail.
We have a limited window of opportunity to reach out and build a mass social movement of communities with a common interest and a clear message. Our aim to give hope and mount an effective resistance to which the alternative is a counsel of despair and decline.
Easington MP Grahame Morris has pledged his support for Gas Safety Week (19-25 September), to raise awareness of gas safety issues in East Durham.
This sixth annual campaign, coordinated by the Gas Safe Register, see organisations across the UK working together to raise awareness of the dangers of poorly maintained gas appliances, which cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. The campaign aims to remind the public to have their gas appliances checked, as we head into winter and begin to switch our heating on.
There are around 40 confirmed deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales every year and inspections conducted by the Gas Safe Register last year revealed that 1 in 5 homes in the East of England contained an unsafe gas appliance. At a recent All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group event Dr Andy Shaw presented new research which showed that while 78% of homes have smoke alarms shockingly only 9% have CO alarms and those in private rented properties are at a greater risk of CO poisoning.
In the report Carbon Monoxide: From Awareness to Action (2015), it was identified by the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group that “the risk of CO being produced at levels dangerous to humans is relatively low”, when appliances are serviced regularly by a “competent person”. With 20 deaths and 1,000 gas-related injuries in the last three years, it’s vital that people make sure their gas appliances are safety checked every year by a registered engineer. Anyone working on gas appliances while not being Gas Safe registered, is working illegally.
Jonathan Samuel, managing director for Gas Safe Register, said: “We know from our own investigations that one in six gas appliances in the UK are unsafe, meaning far too many people are victims of preventable gas related incidents. It’s great to have the support of Mr Morris for Gas Safety Week 2016 so that we can work together to raise public awareness of gas safety and reduce the number of dangerous gas appliances lurking in the homes of the UK’s 23 million gas consumers.”
Follow these three simple top tips to stay gas safe:
•Visit www.meningitis.org/maw2016 for information
Easington MP Grahame Morris is helping to raise awareness of meningitis in East Durham during national Meningitis Awareness Week (19-25 September 2016) to ensure that people are aware of the symptoms, know to be vigilant and act fast.
Meningitis Awareness Week is run by Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF). The charity estimates that there have been on average around 3,200 cases of meningitis and septicaemia every year in the UK. They are deadly diseases that can strike without warning, killing one in ten, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering after-effects ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs. Babies, toddlers and young adults are most at risk, however these diseases can strike anyone of any age at any time.
Symptoms of meningitis can develop rapidly. The first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the well-known rash (which doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it), neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion. Although a rash is often the most well-known symptom, it is often a sign that the disease is advancing rapidly and it is therefore crucial not to wait to for it to appear before seeking medical attention.
MRF Chief Executive, Vinny Smith said: “We are so grateful to Mr Morris for raising awareness. MRF funds vital scientific research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia but there are still some forms of the disease which are not covered by vaccines so it is vital that people are aware of the symptoms. We encourage everyone to be vigilant and to get medical help if you spot the symptoms.”
New university students are also being encouraged to get vaccinated against a type of meningitis that has been on the rise in this age group. The meningococcal ACWY (MenACWY) vaccine is available from the GP for those who are eligible. The vaccination programme covers all 14 to 18 year olds and 19 to 25 year olds starting university for the first time. Find out more here: http://www.meningitis.org/uk-menacwy
You can check that you know the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia at help to share the Meningitis Awareness Week campaign by visiting www.meningitis.org/maw2016 and using #MRFAwarenessWeek on social media.
For any questions about meningitis, septicaemia and vaccinations that can prevent the diseases call MRF’s free helpline on 080 8800 3344 or visit www.meningitis.org.
Easington MP Grahame Morris is supporting Together for Short Lives’ new campaign, You Can Be That Nurse, which aims to encourage more nurses to work with children with life-shortening conditions.
Together for Short Lives is launching the campaign as evidence shows that a shortage of qualified nurses providing children’s palliative care in the voluntary sector, including children’s hospices, is having a negative impact on children with life-shortening conditions across the UK.
There are more than 50,000 children and young people in the UK who are expected to have short lives and the number is rising. These children have complex and unpredictable health conditions and rely on qualified children’s nurses with the right skills to provide palliative care and symptom management. Yet two thirds of voluntary services surveyed by UK charity Together for Short Lives reported that a shortage in nurses is resulting in a reduced offer of care to families: closing beds, reducing respite or affecting the continuity of care. Nurse vacancy rates in children’s palliative care voluntary sector is currently 10%, higher than the NHS nurse vacancy rate (7%). The charity’s annual vacancy surveys show the negative impact on services is increasing year on year – in 2014, 43% of respondents said they reduced the service offered to families as a result of vacancies, in 2015 this had increased to 65% reporting their vacancies were affecting the amount of care they can offer to families.
The You Can Be That Nurse campaign encourages nurses to work in the sector and help bridge the care gap. The above film features three nurses at different stages of their career in hospice, home and hospital. The film tackles some of the taboos around children’s palliative care by highlighting how rewarding these nursing roles can be; building strong relationships with families and providing holistic care right from the point of diagnosis through to end of life and beyond.