Health and Social Care

Campaign response - Please promote equality and sign EDM 521; Please sign EDM 521 - 13 July 2020

Thank you to constituents for contacting me about Early Day Motion 521 and the Abortion (Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, and Clubfoot) Bill.

As a principle I never sign early day motions as they very rarely achieve anything whilst at the same time running up costs to the taxpayer.

However as a pro-life MP I will be keen to show support for this important bill via other means. I have previously spoken out strongly against sex-selective abortion – an appalling practice that should not be tolerated under any circumstances. I view disability as another unacceptable condition on which pregnancies should be terminated. Disabled children deserves as much of a chance at life as able-bodied children. Many constituents have already written to me to highlight many examples of well-known individuals who suffer from conditions such as Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, and Clubfoot at birth, but nevertheless have gone on to make important contributions in sports, entertainment and the arts.

Indeed, all of the current work and emphasis by the government on promoting better help and support for the disabled would all be meaningless, if society could simply choose whether a child deserves to be born or not based on their physical or mental state.

The Abortion (Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, and Clubfoot) Bill tabled by my colleague aims to put an end to disability-related abortions. If and when the Commons finds the time to deliberate this important legislation, I will certainly be voting in support of it.

 

Upcoming meeting on Wednesday 15th July All-Party Parliamentary Group on Choice at the End of Life - 9 July 2020

My thanks to those who have contacted me with regard to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Choice at the End of Life scheduled for Wednesday 15th July.

I appreciate concerns raised on this very sensitive issue and fully understand how important end of life issues are to many constituents.

Unfortunately I am unable to attend this event as my diary for this time is fully booked, but am grateful to those constituents who have highlighted this event to me.

 

Campaign Reply: Reopen Soft Tissue & Sports Therapy Services - 5 July 2020

Thank you to all those who have contacted me with regard to businesses providing Soft Tissue Therapy, such as Sports Injury Therapists, who are unable to open on 4th July.

I do appreciate that for those who rely on these services for their health needs they are understandably keen for these businesses to reopen. I also know that many working in this profession are keen to return to work and support their clients.

Due to the vast number of different types of businesses and the services they provide, it is impossible to provide guidance that would individually identify every single business that would or wouldn’t be permitted to be reopened on 4th July. It was also important that the guidance is as accessible to as many people as possible. This was in no way meant to suggest anything untoward or demeaning, and the government recognises alternative medical practitioners, such as Sports Therapists, Sports Massage Therapists and Soft Tissue Therapists provide a vital service to many people.

As I’m sure you understand, the priority must always be to keep people safe. The decision regarding the reopening of businesses has been an exceptional challenge and has been based upon the assessment of risk. While the Government has been able to provide guidance to many businesses which are reopening, on how best to keep people safe, it currently feels that certain types of business will need to remain closed. This is because it has been assessed that they cannot yet be made sufficiently safe. There are a number of factors considered including whether this would involve close contact and what mitigations can be put in place. Businesses that will be able to reopen from 4th July can only do so providing they put measures in place, including social distancing, to keep both staff and customers safe.

I fully understand your concerns that businesses providing Soft Tissue Therapy, such as Sports Injury Therapists, are not currently part of this group.

Let me assure you that the Government is working around the clock to help more industries safely open, working with scientific and medical experts, along with the Health and Safety Executive, on how to do this in a way that minimises risk to both staff and customers.

In the meantime, the Government’s huge and unprecedented package of support for business remains in place, to help those companies that are struggling during this challenging time. For anyone with emergency or urgent medical needs, they can continue to access this via 111, their GP or, where appropriate, A&E.  

I note all the concerns raised with me on this issue, and the exceptional work those in this industry are undertaking in order to reopen safely. I hope that as we continue to make progress, these businesses will be included in the next tranche allowed to open.

Thanks once again for taking the time to raise this with me.

 

Campaign Reply: 'Trikafta - a new CF treatment' - 1 July 2020

Thanks to my constituents who have contacted me to highlight Trikafta, also known as Kaftrio, a new treatment for Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Many of you shared your personal connections to CF, either as a patient with CF or as a loved one of a patient with CF, and I am grateful you have taken the time to share your experiences with me.

This drug was due to begin a seven-month NHS appraisal in January 2021, however in February the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, committed to accelerating the testing of this drug in recognition of the truly life-transforming treatment this can be for those with CF. I have raised this with my colleagues within the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and am delighted to say that NHS England and NHS Improvement and Vertex Pharmaceuticals have now announced an agreement to fund Trikafta. This means clinicians will be able to start prescribing the triple treatment to English patients, as soon as the licence is granted in the coming weeks.

More information on this available via the NHS website, which I enclose a link to below:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/2020/06/nhs-patients-among-first-in-europe-to-benefit-from-landmark-deal-for-cystic-fibrosis-treatment/

I am very pleased to have been able to offer my support for this and I trust this will be welcome news to many CF sufferers and their loved ones.

Thanks once again for bringing this campaign to my attention.

 

Campaign response - Covid-19 tests - 1 July 2020

Following Thursday’s opposition day debate on the testing of NHS staff, a number of constituents have written to me asking why I voted against Labour’s motion.

To be very clear, I am not against regular testing of NHS staff. I am in favour of NHS staff testing policy as advised by the Chief Medical Officer.

The Shadow Health Secretary in his opening remarks at the debate said Labour are calling for weekly testing of NHS staff, “if necessary”.

But “if necessary” was not in the wording of their motion, which instead called for blanket weekly testing without any qualification – proving this was nothing more than a political stunt by a Labour party that could not even agree among themselves what they were asking for.

If MPs had ignored the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and voted in favour this inflexible approach as set out in the motion, implementing it would have led to all existing testing capacity being taken up and meant that no-one else – including the elderly and the most vulnerable to Covid-19 – would be able to get tested. I certainly could not in good conscience support this and I am glad many of my colleagues agreed with me by also voting against the motion.

Fundamentally the level of testing for NHS staff should be a matter that is decided by clinicians and not politicians, especially those seeking to score cheap political points as the Labour party did last week.

Regular testing, including weekly testing if it is deemed necessary by the Chief Medical Officer, is essentially what the current government policy is and I will continue to support this clinically-informed approach.