Friday, 21 June 2019

Campaign reply – ‘Valuing Audiology: NHS Hearing Aid Services in England’

A number of constituents have asked me to attend a drop in session with Action on Hearing Loss about their new report ‘Valuing Audiology: NHS Hearing Aid Services in England’. The report includes statistics about how audiology services are being commissioned.

I am unable to attend a drop in session on 26 June as I am required to be in Strasbourg on that day in my role as a member of the Council of Europe.

However I am sympathetic to the aims of this campaign, specifically calling on the Department of Health and Social Care to require CCGs to collect uniform data on audiology departments in England, and will raise this with Ministerial colleagues in the Department of Health at the next available opportunity.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Campaign reply - 'Cancer - A Costly Diagnosis? Stories of the Financial Impact of Cancer'

I have had a number of emails from constituents as part of a campaign asking Members of Parliament to attend two events coming up in Parliament on Macmillan Cancer Support’s new report, 'Cancer - A Costly Diagnosis? Stories of the Financial Impact of Cancer'

I fully appreciate these concerns and would certainly be interested in going along if I can in order to better inform my thinking in this area. I will endeavour to attend the event on 9 July, Parliamentary business allowing.

Newspaper column 19 June 2019 - Mevagissey Surgery and the NHS People Plan

Last week was another varied one in Parliament with lots going on. I spoke in the Chamber about the Government’s support for the Cornish Protected National Minority Status.

I also hosted an event in Parliament to promote the extraordinary work of the Cornwall Air Ambulance, as well as launching a campaign, in the run up to Fathers’ Day, to encourage dads to read to their children, which not only benefits children in encouraging them to read but strengthens the father/child relationship which can come under so much pressure.

At the beginning of last week I was delighted to see the successful outcome of the campaign to keep Mevagissey Surgery open, when a new partner was found to help run the surgery from Veor Practice in Camborne.

This was a true example of everyone in Mevagissey and the surrounding communities pulling together to run a positive campaign, highlight their situation, which they managed to get international attention for, and work with local NHS decision-makers for the right outcome.

I was pleased to play my part too in raising awareness of the campaign, supporting the community in their immediate aims of highlighting the issue, and stressing how important the surgery is, having visited the sessions held in the surgery by the NHS and met with staff and campaigners. I was able to raise this issue twice in Parliament at the highest levels, secured the support of the Prime Minister and Health Minister, and also, along with the local Cornwall Councillor responding in detail to the NHS consultation on the future of the surgery.

It was a great outcome and a result of the very positive and constructive approach of the campaigners which was in sharp contrast to others who simply chose to snipe negatively from the side lines and accept defeat without even putting up a fight. People came together at every level, concentrated on what they could achieve, and secured the right outcome, something the community of Mevagissey and all concerned can rightly be very proud of.

Something that this situation highlighted was the real challenge we face in many coastal and rural communities in attracting and retaining the NHS staff we need.

With this in mind I was pleased to get confirmation from the Health Minister as a result of my raising this issue in Parliament that the new NHS People Plan released this month contains measures to improve this situation.

Part of the NHS Long Term Plan which was announced in January, the People Plan, sets out a new service model to take more action on prevention and health inequalities, improve quality of care and health outcomes across all major health conditions, harnesses technology to transform services, as well as getting the most out of taxpayer investment. Along with ensuring NHS staff get the backing they need to deliver these outcomes. In particular it includes measures to attract more GPs to coastal and rural areas and steps to ensure we are able to maintain our local health services.

The NHS is a vast organisation and it is vital it is run properly and as efficiently as possible, with the best interests of its patients, staff and the taxpayer at heart. With the NHS People Plan and Long Term Plan things are moving in the right direction and I will continue to ensure the interests and unique challenges of places like Cornwall are recognised when it comes to this in the future.

My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. The office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Campaign reply - 'British jobs'

A number of constituents have written to me with a campaign email entitled “ British jobs”

It expresses concern thus: “Research shows that a no-deal Brexit would be bad for the economy…” but fails to then quote from or name the   report so it is impossible to comment further other than to recognise that every forecast that has been produced indicating that leaving the EU would be bad for the UK economy has been wrong. Or wildly wrong.

I seek to reflect the views of the majority of constituents who voted to leave the EU. My postbag leaves me in no doubt that whilst most are ready to see a us leave with a deal if one can been successfully negotiated they are insistent that if such is not settled then we leave with no deal or more accurately on WTO terms. I agree.

It is a farcical negotiating position to take no deal off the table as a default position as it hands all advantage to the EU during talks. So it has to stay if only for that reason. We may well have to accept that outcome if the EU will not agree acceptable terms.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Campaign response - Take back responsibility

Thank you to constituents who have recently emailed me with their concerns about the BBC's decision to scrap free TV licences for the over-75s.

I fully understand the strength of feeling expressed by many constituents on this issue.

The former Chancellor first announced in the 2015 summer budget that the Department for Work and pensions will cease to fund free TV licences for those aged 75 and over from 2019/20, and that the BBC will instead absorb the cost of this and take responsibility for the policy.

At the time, the government agreed to boost the BBC’s income by increasing licence fee each year in line with inflation and requiring iPlayer users to have a TV licence.

This shift of financial burden from taxpayers to the BBC to fund free TV licences is based on an intention to deliver sound public finances and is one that I support.

The BBC is operationally independent from the Government, so the announcement is very much its own decision.

In 2017-18, the BBC received over £3.8 billion in licence fee income—more than ever before. The BBC is also making over £1 billion a year from commercial work, such as selling content abroad, which can be reinvested.

Taxpayers clearly want to see the BBC use its substantial financial income appropriately and ensure that it delivers for UK audiences.

I am therefore very much disappointed by the BBC’s decision to no longer provide free TV licences for over-75s, despite reviewing over 190,000 submissions in the public consultation exercise it ran.

With several proposals on the table, the BBC has taken the most narrowly defined reform option that will have the biggest impact on older people.

I believe that the BBC can and ought to do more to support over-75s who have contributed so much to our society.

I will continue to monitor this issue closely and speak up for the interest of constituents when the opportunity arises.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Campaign reply - MND events in Parliament in July

I have had a number of emails from constituents as part of a campaign asking Members of Parliament to attend two events coming up in Parliament to show  support for people with motor neurone disease (MND).

I understand that both events, on 3 and 9 July, will focus on the need for the Government to reform the law so that everyone with a terminal illness can access welfare benefits quickly and sensitively.
I appreciate the concerns of people who have contacted me and will endeavour to attend the event on 3 July, Parliamentary business allowing.

Campaign reply - The next Prime Minister

A number of constituents have emailed me with various 38 degree generated campaign emails covering the subject of who will be the next Prime Minister,  leaving the EU and concern expressed over leaving with no deal.

Mrs May has resigned as leader of the Conservative party. She will soon stand down as Prime Minister and a new Prime Minister will be elected. The key issue facing them will be ensuring we leave the EU in line with the will of the majority of voters in the referendum.

Article 50 sets out that we will seek a deal with the EU but in the event that cannot be agreed then we will leave with no deal. Whilst I would prefer to leave with a deal it would be an unwise (if not then something worse) to remove the option of no deal from the table as it hands a huge advantage to the EU negotiators who would have the advantage of being certain  of us accepting any deal they chose to offer. That is the self-inflicted disaster we must avoid.

Thus it is important we continue to prepare for a no deal outcome not only for our own benefit but to leave our continental colleagues in no doubt that we can and we will leave with no deal if necessary. Whilst no deal will present challenges in the short term that should not detract us. It will also lead to a brighter, better future as we make our own way in the world as a free and independent nation again.

Various concerns are raised: for instance suggesting that the NHS might pay more for medication. I have no doubt that in some instances it might, but that will be massively outweighed by the countless other medicines and supplies that we will be free to source at lower prices. Change comes easier to some than others and I accept there are those who fear the change  of leaving the EU. Whilst acknowledging that, it is also fundamental to our democracy that we honour the referendum result and leave the EU and if necessary with no deal.