Category Archives: Blog

England Cancer Strategy Debate

On Thursday 8th December, there will be a debate in the main chamber to discuss progress with the England Cancer Strategy.APPG on Cancer

The debate serves as a timely and important opportunity to discuss cancer services in the NHS today. Whilst progress has been made, there are areas where it is important to have more detail on implementation plans if the Cancer Strategy’s ambitious aim to save an additional 30,000 lives a year by 2020 is to be realised.

‘Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: a strategy for England 2015-2020.’ set out to “improve survival rates and save lives”. I welcome plans to improve diagnosis and pathways for cancer treatments but I remain concerned that the opportunity to maximise the role of prevention has been seriously overlooked, and with it the opportunity to reduce incidence rates, save the NHS costs and improve people’s quality of life.

By the end of this Parliament, around one in every two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. However, improvements in diagnosing and treating the disease mean that more people are surviving it, or living for longer with it, and consequently we have 2.5 million people living with or beyond cancer in the UK today.

Yet not all of these people are living well with many experiencing the physical, emotional and financial consequences of treatment. Around one in four people living with or beyond cancer face disability or poor health following their treatment and this can remain the case for many years after treatment has ended. It is vital they are abAPPGCle to access the best care that is right for them when they need it, and to ensure that the NHS is set up to meet the changing needs of cancer patients.

Not only would this increase the quality and experience of survival, it would ensure that resources invested in the disease are done in the most efficient way; this is key with Five Year Forward View projections indicating that expenditure on cancer services will need to grow by about 9% a year, reaching £13 billion by 2020/21.

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Alongside the physical and emotional impacts most commonly associated with cancer, it also brings with it a real risk of financial hardship. Four out of five people with cancer are impacted financially by their diagnosis, as extra costs rise whilst having to stop work or reduce hours. This leaves people, on average, £570 a month worse off  and every year 400,000 people in the UK with cancer struggle to pay their household bills as a result of their diagnosis.MacMillan

The Government must ensure people affected by cancer can access the support they need from the welfare system. I therefore welcome the Government’s commitment not to seek further welfare savings over the course of this Parliament: it is vital that people affected by cancer can access the support they need. However, despite this commitment, there are still proposed changes to the welfare system which we are concerned could leave people with cancer without crucial financial support at a time when they need it – such as proposals to devolve Attendance Allowance, a vital benefit for people aged 65 and over, to local authorities.

The consultation on the proposals closed on 26 September 2016, but the Government have not yet released their response to say whether they plan to go ahead with the plans. I am concerned that moves to devolve the benefit could make it harder for people living with cancer to access the financial support they need, and to ensure they can live independently.

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Breakthrough Breast Cancer2Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK; it effects 1 in 8 women and it is estimated that over 500,000 are now living with the disease. For diseases like breast cancer, where incidence rates are alarmingly high, prevention is an urgent priority. But ambitious action for prevention is not adequately reflected in the Cancer Strategy.

Whilst the Strategy includes a limited set of targets on lifestyle risk factors, such as alcohol consumption, smoking and obesity, it does not address other key risk factors, such as environmental pollution or exposure to harmful chemicals.

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NHS England has also said it will spend £130m upgrading or replacing radiotherapy machines to improve the survival chances of hundreds of thousands of patients.

The upgrade of at least 100 linear accelerator (Linac) machines across the country will ensure more patients get state-of-the-art treatment called intensity-modulated radiotherapy, which can target the tumour very precisely without damaging surrounding healthy tissue. New machines are more accurate and can deliver a higher dose to the cancer cells, which will reduce the amount of time a patient has to spend in radiotherapy and hopefully increase cure rates.

Radiotherapy is an important part of cancer treatment, after surgery to remove the tumour, and cures more people than cancer drugs. The Linac machines used to deliver it are supposed to be replaced after 10 years, but 20% of them in England are older than that. A third of all radiotherapy machines (aprox. 90) will need replacing by next year and I intend on making sure the Government commits to their promise to fund this on a national scale. 


Pancreatic Cancer UK 2015

 

UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls

Today marks the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls.

img_5364Women’s activists have marked November 25th as a day against violence since 1981, in memory of the assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic.

I am proud to join millions of activists around the world campaigning to end the terrible epidemic of gender-based violence.

Two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner. Worldwide, one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence — mostly perpetrated by an intimate partner. 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes and 8% will suffer domestic violence in any given year.

The vast majority of women and girls subject to these crimes do not report them to the police. In rape for example, it is estimated that perhaps only around 15% of rapes are ever reported to the police.

This is reality for women and girls that shames us all.

vawg-infographic-1But violence against women and girls is not inevitable. We must challenge deep-rooted social norms and attitudes that lead to gender-based violence. Evidence shows that investing in women’s rights organisations is crucial to the prevention of gender based violence worldwide. Sadly, women’s services have seen their funding shrink rapidly since 2010 – a third of local authority funding to domestic and sexual violence services was already cut by 2012.

The best possible prevention to violence against women and girls is education. 

The CPS Violence Against Women and Girls Crime Report 2015-16 showed that violence is being perpetrated through social media. A study for the NSPCC found that sexting is often coercive and girls are most adversely affected. We are not preparing children with the resilience or knowledge they need to recognise abusive or exploitative behaviour. Currently, 53 per cent of children in schools have not learned how to recognise grooming or sexual exploitation.

The government must introduce statutory, age-appropriate sex and relationships education in primary and high schools to ensure every child learns about healthy, respectful friendships and relationships from the earliest possible age.

At present, sex and relationships education (SRE) is not universally taught in schools across the UK. In England it is only compulsory in maintained secondary schools, which account for 35 per cent of secondary schools). Primary schools, academies, free schools, independent schools and home schools in England do not have to teach SRE.

The Department for Education does provide guidance on what should be included in the non-compulsory sections of SRE, but this was last updated almost 17 years ago, in 2000, well before the Internet and social media became so universal.

img_5363-2This Government should do what countless charities, professionals, academics, five select committees and Members from across the House are asking for; introduce statutory resilience and relationships education in schools from primary school age. 

Women and girls across the world must be able to exercise their human rights free from the fear of violence, coercion and intimidation. The Government have made some important progress in working to address this global challenge. But as the Independent Commission on Aid Impact recently warned, DfID’ s work in this area remains small when compared to the scale of the challenge. DFID will need to scale up its work and integrate VAWG into other programming areas if it is to achieve transformative impact. 

More information on Labour’s success on tackling VAWG in Government can be found here.

Support the Disability Equality Training Bill

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Today I will be supporting the second reading of the Disability Equality Training (Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers) Bill. This campaign aims to stop guide dogs and other assistance dog owners being illegally refused access from taxis and minicabs.

The bill will make the completion of disability equality training a requirement for the licensing of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers in England and Wales; and for connected purposes.

Blind people with guide dogs have a legal right to access taxi services, but some drivers refuse to accept their custom, which can be confidence shattering.

To stop refusals happening, drivers need a full understanding of the rights of disabled people. The Bill will require all taxi and minicab drivers to undertake disability equality training as a condition of obtaining their licence.

Guide Dogs Campaigns Manager, Helen Honstvet, said:

“We are absolutely delighted that Andrew Gwynne MP is taking forward a Bill to ensure that all taxi and minicab drivers have disability equality training. Guide dog owners have told us that taxis and minicabs turn them away with shocking regularity because their dog isn’t welcome. This can crush people’s confidence and stops them doing the everyday things that most people take for granted.guide-dog-3

“This Bill, if made law, will ensure that all taxi and minicab drivers understand their duties under the Equality Act and improve the experience of getting a taxi for many people living with a disability.”

 

 

Realising Aspiration for All

realising-aspirations-for-allThere are over 100,000 people of working age who are deafblind and living in the UK. However, a new report from the disability charity Sense, has revealed that, although many of them are keen to enter the workforce, only a shocking 4% of 18 to 24-year-olds who are deafblind are actually in employment – a rate almost ten times lower than the employment rate of non-disabled young people – and the employment rate of deafblind people over the age of 24 is just 20% – almost four times lower than the national average.

More broadly, with 46% of disabled people out of work, the rate of employment of disabled people is 30% lower than that of non-disabled people. These striking statistics reveal how important it is that the right support structures are in put in place so that those who want to work, can.

With the Government now publishing their Green Paper on disability employment, and reaffirming their commitment to halving the disability employment gap, it is essential that all disabled people who want to work – especially those with more complex conditions such as deafblindness – benefit from the extra resources being put in to place. I share Sense’s belief that disabled people who want to work, fulfil their ambitions, and play active roles in their communities, should be supported to do so.

In their report, Sense undertook research with people who are deafblind of all ages and in differing employment situations, from actively seeking work to running their own business. The final report, Realising Aspirations For All, revealed the multitude of barriers faced by people who are deafblind, both to enter employment and to progress when in the work place.

The report highlighted the appalling situation that currently prevails, where support programmes and employment support providers are failing to provide the right level and type of support for disabled people to enter, and maintain, employment. The situation is exacerbated by some employers, who lack awareness of existing support schemes, run inaccessible recruitment processes, and harbour negative views about the abilities of disabled people in the work place.

To address these failures Sense is calling on the Government, employment support providers, and employers, to make targeted support available, to increase the accessibility of employment, and to give disabled people equal opportunities to realise their aspirations.

An important first step is for the introduction of specialist support models targeted at people who have more complex support needs and are not likely to benefit from the Work and Health Programme, and trials of innovative specialist support models using the Innovation Fund from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health (DH).

These efforts should be complemented at a local level by a better understanding of the demands of the local labour market so employment support providers can proactively reach out to employers, encouraging applications from disabled people.

The impact of the correct support and guidance for disabled people to access work can make the world of difference. Sense highlights the case of Bethany, who is 23, born deaf and with deteriorating vision. Receiving support meant she could go from struggling to find employment, to growing in confidence and working towards starting her own business.

The new Green Paper provides an important opportunity to build a more inclusive, diverse and meaningful society that enables everyone to contribute. I join Sense in calling on the Government to do all it can to make this a reality.

Labour’s pledge for a real living wage

Grahame Morris - A fair economy

Labour believes in a full and proper wage for a working day. That’s why we are committing to introducing a statutory real Living Wage. The next Labour Government will ensure that everyone in Easington will earn enough to live on.

Failed Tory austerity has produced a low-wage, low-investment, high-debt economy in which productivity is stagnating. Instead, the next Labour Government will ensure that everyone in Easington will earn enough to live on through the introduction of a statutory real Living Wage – independent research has estimated that this is likely to mean a figure in excess of £10 per hour in 2020.

It is a disgrace that low pay has been allowed to flourish in the North-East under the Tories. The people of Easington deserve a wage they can live on and it is only a Labour Government that will deliver it.

Labour’s real Living Wage is just one aspect of our plan to tackle low pay and will be introduced in tandem with an industrial strategy to transform Britain into a high-skill, high-productivity, high-wage and sustainable modern economy by boosting investment and R&D, supporting manufacturing and foundation industries and nurturing the industries of the future.

“Decent pay is not just fundamentally right, it’s good for business, it’s good for employees, and it’s good for Britain. We need a new deal across our whole economy.”
-John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor, Labour Party Conference 2016.

Show racism the red card- wear red today!

img_5694On Friday 21st October, Show Racism the Red Card is encouraging individuals, schools and organisations to show their support and raise funds for the campaign by taking part in Wear Red Day 2016.
For 20 years Show Racism the Red Card has been educating young people about racism in schools with the help of role-models, including professional footballers, at special events at football clubs and through educational films.
Grahame said on his support for the charity: “I am delighted to continue supporting this wonderful organisation. From my work as an MP, the worrying rise in racism following the EU referendum has caused considerable need for charities like Show Racism the Red Card. I hope that this event on Friday can raise funds for a valuable and much needed charity.”
People are getting involved all over the UK and lots of trade unions have also pledged their support, with members of USDAW, The NUT, Unite the Union, PFA, GMB, Nautilus, Equity, Musicians Union, Prospect, BECTU, NUJ, TUC and PCS, set to wear red and donate.
And in Gateshead and Newcastle the famous Millennium bridge will be turned RED, to mark the support of Gateshead Council.
For every £5 raised, SRtRC can educate a young person for a whole school day. Show your support – Wear red and stand against racism this Friday. Donate now!
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Support your local pharmacy

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Visiting Whitworths Chemist in Murton

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.

 

Keep the hunting ban!

img_1343The Hunting Act is one of Labour’s most popular and successful pieces of animal welfare legislation and we must protect it from being repealed by the Tories.

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.

Labour Against Fox Hunting

You deserve more than this Tory Government

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.

a-bitter-futureBut 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.

Working people in Easington deserve better than more Tory failure with no answers and no change – only a Labour Government will stand up for them and their families.image002

MP ENCOURAGES YOUNG PEOPLE TO TAKE UP VACCINE

meningitis-nowI have backed calls by leading UK meningitis charity, Meningitis Now encouraging young people to protect themselves from a deadly strain of bacterial meningitis.

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 30years-meningitis

  • Meningitis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses
  • Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord
  • Septicaemia is blood poisoning
  • Some bacteria that cause meningitis also cause septicaemia
  • Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together – it is vital to know all the signs and symptoms
  • The early signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia can be similar to ‘flu and include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain.
  • The more specific signs and symptoms include fever with cold hands and feet, drowsiness, confusion, pale blotchy skin, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights and a rash which doesn’t fade under pressure.
  • In babies, symptoms can also include being floppy and unresponsive, dislike of being handled, rapid breathing, an unusual, moaning cry and a bulging fontanelle (soft spot on the top of the head).
  • There are an estimated 3,200 cases of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia each year in the UK.
  • Following bacterial meningitis or septicaemia, one in ten people will die and at least a third of survivors will be left with lifelong after-effects such as hearing loss, epilepsy, limb loss or learning difficulties
  • Meningitis and septicaemia can affect anyone, of any age, at any time. However, babies and young children are most at risk, and young people between 15 – 24 years are also a higher risk group.
  • In the past 20 years, effective vaccines have been developed to give protection against SOME types of meningitis. These are offered to all babies and young children as part of the UK childhood immunisation programme. BUT there are not vaccines to protect against ALL types.
  • A vaccine to protect against meningococcal group B (Men B) disease, the most common cause of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia, was introduced into the UK childhood immunisation programme in September 2015.
  • If you suspect someone may be ill with meningitis or septicaemia, trust your instincts and get immediate medical help.

For more information visit www.MeningitisNow.org. Freephone helpline 0808 80 10 388.