Health and Social Care

Child Victims Of Modern Slavery

I believe that we should do all that we can to protect those most at risk of trafficking in our society. Child victims of modern slavery and human trafficking are among the most vulnerable people in the UK, with separated and unaccompanied children in migration most at risk.

Statutory provision for Independent Child Trafficking Advocates (ICTAs) was made in section 48 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. ICTAs advocate on behalf of child victims and ensure their voices are taken into account for all decisions made for them. Three early-adopter sites (Greater Manchester, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and the whole of Wales) have been successfully running this service, delivered by the charity Barnardo’s, since January 2017. A recently published Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act, described ICTAs as “A service that is a companion for a trafficked child, helping them to navigate towards a safer future” recommending that the service continues.

The Home office are carefully considering the recommendations of the independent review and will publish a formal response in summer 2019. The Government remains committed to rolling out the ICTA service nationally as soon as possible to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable children in our society.

Dementia Care

I was shocked to hear that there are over 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, a number predicted to rise to 2 million by 2051. As of April 2019, there are 7,341 care homes in England that provide dementia care. Of those that have a Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating, 76% are rated Good or Outstanding. This is a great achievement however, more needs to be done to support those in need.

The government are committed to ensuring that everybody, including those who live with dementia, has access to the care and support that they need. The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, commits the National Health Service to continuing to improve the care provided to people with dementia and their carers. The Government’s Dementia 2020 Challenge aims to make England the best country in the world for dementia care, support, awareness and research. In 2019 the Department of Health and Social Care have given local authorities access to up to £3.9 billion more funding for adult social care. The government will set out plans to reform the social care system to ensure it is sustainable for the future.

I will continue to support improvements in care for sufferers and will attend the Alzheimer’s Society’s photo exhibition, to show my support for the great work that they do.

Medicinal Cannabis

I have always opposed the legalisation of so-called recreational Cannabis and continue to do so. However, medicinal Cannabis is a different matter and I support its use when the medical profession approve of it, after thoroughly investigating its benefits as against potential problems which might be caused by its application. Strains of the plant have been used for years and the range was extended in November 2018. Since then, around 110 patients have received Cannabis-based medicine, but there do appear to be barriers to its use, and the government is investigating why this should be so, as well as carrying out cost-benefit analysis. The recent debate, which I attended for a while, was useful in highlighting the issue.

Campaign: End Our Pain "Patients need help: act now to support those denied medical cannabis"

The Government is working hard to get the right approach. The law was changed on 1 November last year to ensure that it is now legal for doctors on the specialist register of the General Medical Council to prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use in the UK. Whether to prescribe must remain a clinical decision to be made with the patients and their families, taking into account the best available international clinical evidence and the circumstances of each individual patient.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), has also been commissioned to develop guidelines on the prescribing of cannabis-based medicinal products by October 2019. The guidance will focus on four indications: chronic pain, intractable nausea and vomiting, treatment-resistant epilepsy and spasticity. It will be based on the best available international evidence and produced using NICE’s world-renowned process for delivering such guidelines. This guidance will update and replace the interim guidance.

Campaign: HCPC Fees

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) performs an important role in the health and care sectors across the UK, ensuring safety and quality from our healthcare professionals. The main source of funding for HCPC is through registration fees paid by healthcare professionals registering to practice in the UK.

The regulators are responsible for determining the level of their annual registration fees. Following public consultation, the HCPC have decided to raise its annual fees from £90 to £106 a year from October 2019. Despite most respondents not being in favour of a price increase, many wanted the HCPC to invest more in improving the quality and timeliness of their services. The HCPC have been clear that the principal reason for the increase in fees is to allow it to deliver the improvements identified by registrants in the consultation. Following the increase, HCPC registration fees will remain the lowest of any UK health and care regulators. Since the registration fees are tax-deductible, the annual increase will amount to just over £1 a month extra for most of the registrants.

The HCPC is independent of the Government and is funded by registrants’ fees on a cost-recovery basis. The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) is responsible for providing oversight to HCPC. It is not the Government’s role to advise HCPC what their fees should be.

However, in response to the Westminster Hall debate on this subject, the Minister for Health has written to the HCPC to ask they look at the disparity between the fees that are payable by part-time and full-time staff. I will continue to speak with any constituents effected and help in any way that I can.

Campaign: NHS Long Term Plan 

The NHS Long Term Plan is a new plan for the NHS to improve the quality of patient care and health outcomes. It sets out how the £20.5 billion budget settlement for the NHS, announced by the Prime Minister in summer 2018, will be spent over the next 5 years.

The plan has been developed in partnership with frontline health and care staff, patients and their families. It will improve outcomes for major diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and dementia.

The plan also includes measures to:

  • improve out-of-hospital care, supporting primary medical and community health services
  • ensure all children get the best start in life by continuing to improve maternity safety including halving the number of stillbirths, maternal and neonatal deaths and serious brain injury by 2025
  • support older people through more personalised care and stronger community and primary care services
  • make digital health services a mainstream part of the NHS, so that in 5 years, patients in England will be able to access a digital GP offer

I continue to meet with local health chiefs in the constituency to listen to their concerns, and progress, and raise these issues with the Health Secretary. 

 

Campaign: Fostering: Staying Put 

I recognise the excellent contribution foster carers make to our society and the role they play in shaping, often vulnerable, young people's lives. Since the introduction of Staying Put in 2014, young people in England have had the legal right to stay living with their former foster carers after they turn 18. I have received campaign emails from constituents asking the government to introduce a national minimum allowance for Staying Put to cover the cost of looking after a young person.

The Minister has outlined the following: 

The government keeps the Staying Put policy under constant review, including through monitoring data from local authorities on take-up by young people, engagement with the sector, and reviewing information from Ofsted inspections of local authorities. Staying Put was also considered as part of the independent fostering review undertaken by Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers, published in February 2018. Staying Put has helped thousands of care leavers to transition more smoothly from care to independence, and provides continuity of relationships and care arrangements. Latest data shows that in the year ending March 2018, 55% of 18 year olds chose to Stay Put – an increase of 4% on 2017.

The government does not believe that introducing a national minimum allowance for Staying Put carers is the right way forward. Unlike children in foster care, young people in Staying Put arrangements are adults and may be in work, or claiming benefits. These can be used to contribute to the cost of providing the Staying Put arrangement, in a similar way that young people who are still living at home with their parents may contribute to the cost of running the household. The current arrangements allow local authorities to consider all factors in relation to each local Staying Put arrangement, and to negotiate the amount that the carer receives on a case-by-case basis.