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.

Budget Speech

Commons ChamberA lacklustre and underwhelming budget that makes no real or practical difference to the lives and living standards of people in the North East and East Durham.

Trumpeted as the kick start of the Tories General Election campaign it did nothing to address the failings of the last five years.

The Chancellor has demanded more of the same, with deeper and more extreme cuts in public spending that will damage every service we value, the NHS, education and policing.

This was confirmed by the Chancellor’s own OBR which warned his budget will mean “a much sharper squeeze on real spending in 2016/17 and 2017/18 than anything seen over the past five years”.

We cannot afford five more years of Osborne-economics, with all of it’s false promises.

We know what a promise means from this government from tuition fees to VAT, the promise to protect the poorest then introducing the bedroom tax, from a promise to make work pay to the pledge to balance the budget within a single parliament.

The Chancellor cannot erase the last five years.

The Government promised to “make work pay” with the Prime Minister telling people “the best route out of poverty is work”.

These words are meaningless to the two thirds of children in poverty who live in working households.

There are over five million low paid workers in the UK, earning less than the living wage, a figure up from 3.4m in 2009.

The number of people in work claiming housing benefit is up 59% since 2010, costing an extra £5 billion, and wages have fallen on average by £1600 a year under this Government.

And yesterday the Chancellor had the audacity to claim that there was no cost of living crisis, and living standards have risen.

They might have risen for his friends in the city who continue to enjoy the top rate tax cut he delivered them.

While making millionaires richer, real people in communities like East Durham have seen their services cut, an increase of insecure employment through zero hour contracts, and 24 tax rises, making their families £1,127 a year worse off.

Not only has the government hit people directly through spending cuts and tax rises, they are failing to deliver the investment needed to grow our economy in the North East.

The much vaunted “Northern Powerhouse” is empty rhetoric for people in my community as the Chancellor has failed to grasp that the North does not end at Leeds and Manchester.

Where was the promised “Northern Powerhouse” in 2010 when their first act in Government was to abolish our successful Regional Development Agency – One North East, or when they took away our voice in government by removing the post of Minister for the North East.

Where is our investment, for every £1 spent in the North East, the Chancellor spends £24.33 in London.

How does the Chancellor plan to create a Northern Powerhouse when he inflicts disproportionate cuts on Northern Councils. My local authority – Durham County Council have had cuts of a quarter of a billion pound.

In response, the Council delivered an ambitious County Plan aimed at delivering jobs and growth only for it to be rejected by his government and the planning inspectorate.

Under what scenario does the Chancellor believe these decisions will rebalance the economy and promote growth in the North East.

What does the Northern Powerhouse mean to the North East when major infrastructure projects the Government announce as of national importance, such as HS2, do not include our region, again stopping at Leeds.

Network Rail suggest the benefits to my constituents would be a cut in journey times from Durham to London of eleven minutes by 2033, at the potential cost of direct services to the capital and slower journey times to major Scottish cities.

I cannot think of a policy which costs so much, with estimates ranging from £50 to £80 billion, and delivers so little to my community.

The priority in my constituency is to improve our connectivity to major lines and increase rail services as we continue to work towards a new rail stop at Horden, Seaview.

I would like the Government to show the same sense of urgency for my constituency and get behind these plans, which are a tiny fraction of the cost of HS2, but would see our communities connected to neighbouring cities, and the UK rail network, helping us to create new economic activity and opportunities for our communities.

The Northern Powerhouse is empty rhetoric while the Government continue to prioritise short term cuts over the long term interests of people in East Durham.

The Government have broken their promise to young people – they trebled tuition fees, abolished EMA, pledged to open more free schools leaving a £4billion black hole while schools like Seaham School of Technology continue to wait for their school to be rebuilt.

As education minister the Government Chief Whip attacked East Durham Schools, however, while they continue to deliver improved GCSE results his free school pet projects which have wasted taxpayers money are failing and his successor has been forced to close Durham Free School, a school which I was once told represented value for money.

I hope the Chief Whip might take the time to explain what he means by value for money to the children of Seaham School of Technology during the election campaign as they continue to wait for their new school building.

However, this is an equal opportunities government when it comes to education.

No matter if you are young and just entering the school system, or if you are leaving to go to college or university, you may be in work or out of work and need to retrain – no matter what your age when it comes to education this government will kick away the ladder of opportunity.

I have recently joined East Durham College’s campaign against funding cuts for adult further education.

The Government has announced a 24 per cent cut to adult further education from 2015/16 affecting all colleges. In addition to previous cuts which will mean that over the lifetime of this parliament funding for adult students in further education has been reduced by 35 per cent.

This means there are one million fewer adults’ receiving skills and training compared to 2010, removing opportunities for adults to receive the qualifications they require to access local employment opportunities.

It is short sighted cuts like these that will cause long term and lasting damage to our communities. With fewer people remaining in the same job throughout their working life people must have the opportunity to retrain and obtain the skills they need to compete in a changing labour market.

I am therefore disappointed at the lack of emphasis in yesterday’s budget to support life long learning, and I have no confidence that after the next election a Tory Government can support and promote educational opportunities in my constituency for people of any age.

Finally, yesterday’s budget promised yet another assault on Social Security after the election while failing to tell us what the Government will cut next.

People are rightly worried as the government’s record to date has been to hit the poorest and most vulnerable in society with no policy more cruel than the bedroom tax.

The Bedroom Tax has affected 1,300 families in East Durham. It has cost low income families £850,000 in East Durham, money that would otherwise have been spent in the local economy, supporting jobs and services. The Government left people with no option but to pay, as they knew there were not sufficient smaller properties for people to move.

However, the impact of the bedroom tax has been felt by the wider community particularly in Horden and Blackhall in my constituency which lost out on millions of pounds in regeneration funding after Accent Housing ended their planned investment because their properties were no longer financially viable due to the lack of demand caused by the bedroom tax.

The Government’s economic record, social security cuts and policies of austerity are scarred across the communities of Horden and Blackhall in the boarded up properties that Accent can no longer let and will no longer invest in, which are an eye sore and a drain on the community.

When people say that we are all the same, and voting does not make a difference it is these properties I will point to, the damage it has done to our communities and the pain and suffering people have experienced as a result of the bedroom tax.

It is an unfair policy which has hit over 400,000 disabled people and 60,000 households with carers, something the Government have always known.

Conclusion

The Budget delivered nothing for East Durham except more of the same policies of austerity and more damaging cuts for our community.

The simple question everyone should ask in fifty day is can you afford five more years of Cameron and Osborne.

Easington MP pledge’s his support for WWF’s Earth Hour campaign

 

Grahame Morris MPEasington MP Grahame Morris Member has backed this year’s Earth Hour campaign to highlight the importance of protecting the world’s forests.

Mr Morris pledge his support for this year’s WWF Earth Hour which takes place on Saturday 28th March at 8:30pm, as well as their campaign for a responsible trade in sustainably-sourced forest products.

Earth Hour is WWF’s annual global grassroots movement where millions of people around the world come together to switch off their lights for one hour in a symbolic act of support to show they care about our brilliant planet.

To find out more and register to take part please go to: wwf.org.uk/earthhour and join millions of people who are signing up to the big switch off.

WWF-UK’s forest campaign highlights the issue of illegally sourced timber and unsustainable forest management, and aims to make responsible forest trade the norm. WWF-UK is challenging business and the government to commit to responsible trade in wood and paper to help end deforestation around the world.

Deforestation is having a devastating effect on the world’s last remaining natural forests, for example, in Indonesia, Central Africa and Far East Russia. The world has lost nearly half its forests, and only a tenth of what remains is protected. Global demand for wood for timber, paper and fuel is set to triple by 2050. For more information on WWF’s Forest Campaign visit wwf.org.uk/saveforests

Grahame Morris MP said: “Our planet is under pressure and we are facing huge environmental challenges including illegal logging and unsustainable management of forests.  Earth Hour is a chance for everyone to show their support and help make a difference.  It is genuinely inspiring that millions of people across the globe will come together on Saturday 28th March at 8.30pm to celebrate Earth Hour and take positive action to protect our natural world.”

Shareen Brown, head of WWF-UK’s Earth Hour, said: “Our natural resources are running out.  We are already living beyond the limits of one planet, but by making small changes our daily lives can become more sustainable. Politicians play a vital part in helping to tackle the major conservation issues such as deforestation, so it’s great to have their support for Earth Hour.  It’s a timely reminder that we all need to be doing more to protect some of our planet’s most precious wildlife and places.”

#Earth HourUK

Last year over 9 million people in the UK took part in #EarthHourUK and 85% of those that signed up said they felt inspired to go on to live more sustainably beyond the hour (nfpSynergy 2014).

Globally, the world’s first Earth Hour forest was created in Uganda and more than 100,000 people supported a petition on forest legislation in Russia.

Earth Hour, organised by WWF, is a worldwide grassroots movement uniting people to protect the planet. 2014’s Earth Hour was the biggest yet, with hundreds of millions of people taking part across a record 162 countries and 7,000 towns and cities alongside world famous landmarks from the Sydney Opera House to Times Square in New York. Earth Hour continues to have a real and lasting impact beyond the hour, from crowdfunding to help protect critically endangered species, to campaigns to protect The Great Barrier Reef.  In 2015 Earth Hour will be held on 28th March 2015 between 8.30pm and 9.30pm.

UK’s impact on forest trade and the EUTR

Being the fifth-largest importer of timber and wood-based products in the world consuming materials valued at over £14.4 billion in 2013, the UK is an important player in global markets for forest products. Forests are disappearing at a rate of one football pitch every two seconds, yet here in the UK we can still buy furniture, books, cards and other products made from illegally or unsustainably sourced wood.

In 2013, the EU introduced a Timber Regulation to prevent illegally logged wood being imported into Europe. However, due to some inconsistent and illogical loopholes, only half the value of all timber and wood-based products imported is covered. Fortunately there is an opportunity for change. In 2015 the regulation is being reviewed. WWF is seizing this opportunity to work to prevent all illegally-logged timber entering the EU by ensuring the loopholes in the current EU Timber Regulation are closed At the same time we are working with business, government and civil society to find and push for mechanisms to enable a market in 100% sustainably-sourced timber by 2020.

Fighting for the future of the NHS

Save the NHSWe face an important choice at the next election.

Over the weekend UKIP have aligned themselves to the Tories, promising to prop up another Tory led Coalition Government.

This comes as little surprise with UKIP being the home of disenchanted Thatcherite Tories. They are funded by former Tory donors with almost £9 in every £10 the party receives coming from Ex-Tory backers. Their only two MPs, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, were Conservative MPs less than six months ago, supporting the government’s attacks on communities like ours and the destruction of the NHS, positions which they now disown.

The final confirmation about UKIP came this weekend, when their leader, a former Tory himself, who believes he is the only politician “keeping the flame of Thatcherism alive”, promised to do a post-election deal to keep Cameron in power.

The prospect of a Conservative/UKIP pact worries all of us who have been campaigning to protect and safeguard the future of our NHS over the last five years.

The Tories Health and Social Care Act opened up the NHS to the wholesale privatisations, with the fragmentation of services undermining the co-operation which is required to integrate health and social care. While UKIP’s policy on the NHS is ambiguous at best, and intentionally misleading at worst.

Any promise to protect the NHS always rings hollow when in private Nigel Farage advocates a privately run insurance based health system, or their deputy leader Paul Nuttall congratulates the coalition for “bringing a whiff of privatisation into the beleaguered NHS” believing that the “very existence of the NHS stifles competition”.

I accept there are people who believe we should privatise the NHS, and for those UKIP is certainly your natural home. However, I believe the vast majority of people in Britain support the fundamental principle of the NHS, a universal health service based on a person’s need and not their ability to pay.

At the next election I will be fighting against those parties that want to privatise and break up our NHS.

I am delighted that Labour have put the NHS at the heart of our election campaign, promising an NHS with time to care, through a single joined up service from home to hospital, guaranteeing access to GP appointments within 48 hours and cancer tests within one week. All supported by 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and a new arm of the NHS with 5,000 homecare workers supporting people in their home, working with integrated care teams, as well as supporting the terminally ill to be with family at the end of life.

I believe politics does make a difference and the NHS proves it. While we take it for granted, we do so at our own risk. It is a service which we must continue to fight and protect, a commitment which every generation must renew.

In less than 50 days you will get to decide the future direction for the NHS, it is a decision none of us can afford to take lightly.

Local MP officially opens new base for community mental health service

The Old Vicarage official openingGrahame Morris, MP for Easington, has officially opened the new base for mental health services for older people living in Seaham, Easington Peterlee and the surrounding villages. The ceremony was marked by the unveiling of a plaque on Friday 13 March.

The Old Vicarage in Seaham is part of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust’s commitment to modernise its mental health and learning disabilities services.

With investment of £148k, The Old Vicarage has been extensively refurbished to provide much improved accommodation and space for patients, carers and staff, including consulting rooms; a clinic room; administrative offices and group rooms.

The team of nurses, doctors, therapists, psychologists, support and social workers previously based at Easington Medical Centre, moved to their new base in January. They offer assessment, treatment and support for older people who are suffering from mental health illnesses who also have complex physical health problems. This includes those people living in 24 hour residential and nursing settings.

The additional clinical space at The Old Vicarage is being used by the community team to provide their patients and carers with a choice in where they would like to be seen. This can be either at the new base, or in their own home. It also means that they can deliver more group work including carer education, cognitive stimulation therapy and wellbeing groups.

The community mental health team also provide memory services, diagnosis of dementia and monitoring of medication. Occupational therapy, psychology and physiotherapy are also provided by the team.

Opening the facility Grahame Morris MP said: “Mental health is too often overlooked and this is particularly true of mental health services for older people. It is therefore a great privilege to be asked to officially open The Old Vicarage, which will provide vital community mental health facilities for the people of East Durham. I welcome this important and significant investment in local health services which I am confident will translate into better mental health outcomes.”

Lesley Bessant, Trust Chairman said “I am delighted that Grahame agreed to officially open The Old Vicarage here in Seaham. The refurbished accommodation will help us ensure that we continue to provide the highest level of care and support to those who need it.”