Joy Morrissey debates involving the Department of Health and Social Care during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 14th July 2021
9 interactions (604 words)
Wed 23rd June 2021
3 interactions (106 words)
Wed 21st April 2021
3 interactions (714 words)
Tue 23rd February 2021
3 interactions (45 words)
Mon 22nd February 2021
3 interactions (503 words)
Tue 9th February 2021
3 interactions (84 words)
Tue 8th December 2020
3 interactions (98 words)
Wed 11th November 2020
3 interactions (588 words)
Tue 10th November 2020
3 interactions (80 words)
Tue 1st September 2020
3 interactions (55 words)
Mon 20th July 2020
3 interactions (73 words)
Mon 18th May 2020
3 interactions (96 words)
Tue 5th May 2020
3 interactions (14 words)

Health and Care Bill

(2nd reading)
Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Wednesday 14th July 2021

(3 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Jeremy Hunt Portrait Jeremy Hunt
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There is a big issue, and my hon. Friend is aware from his time at the Department of Health that its root cause is capacity in the system. These capacity issues taken together are why the Health Foundation says that, in just over a decade, we risk a workforce gap in the NHS of about half a million people. That is why this is such a big issue. I urge the Secretary of State to think about that during the Bill’s passage.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is also the case for the rehabilitation services used by stroke victims? There is a vital link between occupational therapists and physios, but we do not have the proper workforce in place for at-home care after a stroke.

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Jeremy Hunt
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. These issues are about not just doctors but all associated health professionals, allied health professionals and indeed the social care workforce. It is important to note that they predate the pandemic. That is why, when I was doing the job of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, I set up five new medical schools and increased the number of doctor, nurse and midwife training places by a quarter, but we need to go further.

When the number of clinicians we train is decided by haggling between the Department of Health and the Treasury in a spending round, there is always the risk that it will be eclipsed by more short-term considerations. The truth is that we have a short-term emergency with workforce burnout, so I urge my right hon. Friend to look at the simple and sensible solution proposed by the Health Foundation and all the royal colleges in The Times today to legislate for Health Education England to have a statutory responsibility to publish annual independent workforce projections across the health and care system for the next five, 10, 15 and 20 years. That would show how many training places are needed, which would start to tackle this problem and the obscenity of spending £6 billion every year on locum doctors and agency workers. That cannot be the best use of funds.

Frontline health and care workers are exhausted. They know that there is not an instant solution, because they know it takes three years to train a nurse and seven years to train a doctor, but we can at least give them the reassurance that there is a long-term plan in place. That is not in the Bill, but it needs to be. Given the dedication that we have seen from health and care staff over the last year, it is the very least that we owe them.

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Valerie Vaz Portrait Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab)
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It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Meriden (Saqib Bhatti) and to congratulate him on the birth of his child.

First, I am going to vote against giving this Bill a Second Reading. I cannot believe that the Government are going ahead with the Bill at this time. It is irresponsible and without any consideration to those who have worked to save our lives and continue to save our lives. The Secretary of State is going to have to assert himself, because he is only just in the job and he seems to have been bounced into this legislation.

Why is this happening now? We have been through this before. I was on the Health Committee from 2010 to 2015. The right hon. Stephen Dorrell was its Chair. On a cross-party basis, we heard evidence that the Bill introduced in 2012 was not the best solution for the NHS. We managed to pause the Bill but the Government continued to press ahead.

Integrated care is Labour party policy. We have seen it. We visited Torbay, where the fictitious Mrs Smith had a single point of entry and everyone was able to track her all the way through the system—through hospital and out—for all her needs. But the 2012 Act stopped that. It stopped the pooling of resources. Integrated care can work only if there are adequate resources for local authorities. Austerity measures since 2010 have starved local authorities and other public services of funding. That is what is making people angry. But the governance of the integrated care system has no clinicians and no patients. People who use it or work in it do not get a say. All sorts of other people can be added on.

My second point is that we do not trust the Government on contracts. Look what happened during the pandemic: £347 million to Randox, the Tory-linked private healthcare company whose testing kits had to be recalled over the summer because of concerns about contamination. We warned them about section 75 and opening this out to tender. The transaction costs associated with that drain the NHS of resources. There is fragmentation and destabilisation. Just ending section 75 is not sufficient; the NHS must become the first and the default option, and private providers cannot be involved in the ICS or in commissioning decisions. We cannot have a select group of fast-tracked friends.

My third point is about the workforce and it has already been raised. They have been magnificent. They have already had a slap in the face with a 1% pay rise and now they are facing further reorganisation. Workforce planning is key to a smart organisation. Clause 33 says who is responsible, but not what must be delivered. Instead of reporting once every five years, how about laying that before Parliament every year? The modelling will have to be done on the workforce assessment, so why can it not be made transparent and available? As the British Medical Association said, we need independently verified projections of future workforce supply so that local and regional decisions can be made on safe staffing levels. That phrase is not even in the Bill, post Francis.

The Secretary of State should think again, as this is the wrong time. The graphs are going up. The BMA and the royal colleges are against this Bill. The main point about healthcare—the right to healthcare—has not been enshrined in the Bill. It must be stopped now, and people and patients should be put first.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
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May I thank Neil from Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Buckinghamshire County Council, the local Bucks clinical commissioning group, local GP surgeries, REACH care homes and care workers across South Buckinghamshire, Thames Hospice and Jayne from the Care Campaign for the Vulnerable? They are all already modelling integrated care, which is promised and promoted through this Bill, and I just want to thank them for their tireless service.

I also need to declare an interest: I am now a carer for a very disabled relative, who became disabled through the pandemic and now requires 24-hour care. So I am fully aware of how broken the care pathways are. I want to speak on behalf of disabled adults and their access to care, and the carers who struggle with the demands of finding ways of advocating for their loved one in the current system. I welcome any changes to integrated care because of that. I want to share examples from my personal experience, not because it is important; it just chimes with what I keep hearing from patient advocacy groups, Age Concern, Mencap and other charities. The problem we see is: when a patient is discharged from hospital, who then takes up the duty of care? I have countless examples of my relative being discharged with open bleeding wounds or bed sores, of waiting four days for a nurse to come to attend to them, of being given the wrong medication, of being unable to access—

Jess Phillips Portrait Jess Phillips (Birmingham, Yardley) (Lab)
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I just wanted to give the hon. Lady a bit more time. Does she agree that we would want to see more in this Bill on how social care is going to be accounted for? Currently, I feel that is lacking.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey
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I thank the hon. Lady for the point she has raised. I have had reassurances from the Minister that we are going to address the social care issues, but I agree that we need parity of esteem between health and adult social care. We need to see those who are delivering those care pathways—local authorities—given the parity of esteem that the NHS and other care providers now have. I hope that we will look at this further as the Bill progresses.

Parity of esteem is very important because there is a difficulty with collaboration and co-ordination of care, and it is the major driver of health inequality and avoidable deaths for people with learning disabilities. Many people with learning disabilities have very complex health needs that require healthcare professionals to collaborate and to co-ordinate interventions. On top of that, healthcare staff need to work together to deliver the healthcare that those vulnerable patients need, which requires effective communication and understanding, as well as resource. How those funding streams are co-ordinated and improved in future is something that should be looked at.

I have seen at first hand, particularly with stroke victims who leave hospital with varying levels of cognitive and physical impairment, the need for critical rehabilitation services to be co-ordinated and put in place the moment people leave hospital, but that is often difficult. Many Members have raised the issue of workforce capability—I echo that. We need to look at how we can work together collaboratively to put patients first and deliver the vital services that many disabled adults need. We have an ageing population, and we face a crisis in adult social care that will eclipse all other things in healthcare. If we work to deliver solutions now—I welcome what is in the Bill—to the hard problems that we face in integrated social care, we can find the solutions that we need for the future.

Clive Lewis Portrait Clive Lewis (Norwich South) (Lab) [V]
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With the climate crisis and the reality of an ageing population, there has never been a better time for the Government to centre the wellbeing of people and planet and the way in which public services and the economy are run. Sadly but unsurprisingly, the Bill fails in this context, so I will vote against it, because it does not fundamentally deal with the very real issues facing our healthcare system. It does not address the desert of NHS England providing oral and dental healthcare, which has made it impossible for my constituents to get an appointment. It does not guarantee fair pay and conditions for the key workers who have seen us through the pandemic, and it does not deal with the scandalous state of mental health- care. Patients in my constituency are in crisis, are discharged too early, or not admitted at all, while for a decade, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has failed to end the practice of sending patients out of area.

What the Bill does do is transfer yet more centralised power to the Executive—rightly described as a power grab by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester South (Jonathan Ashworth)—and, of course, to the private sector. Clause 13, which provides for the establishment of integrated care boards, opens the door to private companies having a say in where funding is allocated and what services are delivered. Clause 3 gives greater political control to the Secretary of State over the NHS England mandate without creating a duty to provide universal, comprehensive and free healthcare to all. Clause 38 empowers the Secretary of State to intervene in the reconfiguration of services, opening the door for politicised interference and gridlocks on decision making.

Where is the democracy, accountability and transparency in the Bill? How will the right of my constituents to healthcare be guaranteed over and above the interests of private companies and the political whims of the Secretary of State? To see what happens when private companies have any role in delivering care, we need only look at the social care crisis. In England, 84% of care home beds are managed by private companies, and three of the five largest care home companies are owned by investment firms whose main priority is economic rent seeking, not the long-term care of our elderly. That model has, unbelievably, led to a cut in the number of care home beds, despite an ageing population, meaning that demand is only growing.

I therefore urge the House to vote against this legislation on what remains of NHS England. It extends the same failed ideology that puts profit before people and which has driven our planet and public services to breakdown.

Social Care Reform

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Wednesday 23rd June 2021

(4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
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I remind the hon. Member about the unprecedented support we have given social care during the pandemic: extra funding of £1.8 billion, over 2 billion items of free PPE to providers, a new system of distributing PPE direct to care homes and other care providers across the country, distributing over 120 million covid tests to care providers, and vaccinating hundreds of thousands of care home residents and the care workforce. We have been supporting the social care sector to our utmost during the pandemic, and we will introduce our proposals for reform of social care.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
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May I reiterate the point made by the hon. Member for Wirral West (Margaret Greenwood) about the importance of hospital discharge and of assessment happening while someone remains in hospital? As one who has experienced this at first hand, I know that in taking care of a loved one it is important that accountability and pathway care structures remain in place. Does my hon. Friend agree that the time for action on adult social care reform is now, that we must be bold and courageous, and that we must put an end to the second-class service many disabled adults and elderly people are receiving right now?

Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
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It is really important that discharge is carefully planned and that there is care and support at home for somebody when they are discharged from hospital, but it is also really important that we ensure that people are discharged when they are ready to leave. I saw that with my own grandmother, who ended up spending months in hospital owing to problems with her being discharged. Goodness, I wish that she had been discharged sooner—that would have been so much better for her. It is right that we support people to be discharged when they are ready to go home, and we should press ahead with doing that, although we must also ensure that support is there for people in their home.

Stroke: Aftercare

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Wednesday 21st April 2021

(6 months, 1 week ago)

Westminster Hall

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Department of Health and Social Care
Rachael Maskell Portrait Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op) [V]
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Thank you for calling me, Sir Edward. I extend my gratitude to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill) and wish his wife well on her stroke journey. I was a physio in the NHS for 20 years and worked in stroke rehabilitation, so I obviously know this issue well from a practitioner’s point of view. I echo much of what I have heard in the debate as the reality of clinical practice. During the course of the debate, about 12 more people in the UK will have had a stroke, which is why urgency in getting things right is so important.

Public health measures are absolutely crucial, because smoking and poor diet and exercise contribute extensively to the risk of having stroke. Above and beyond that, once somebody has entered that journey, we need to make sure that they get the optimum care. In acute care, thrombectomy processes are improving people’s chances of good recovery, which is fantastic, but a significant postcode lottery still loiters around that, which we have to address.

My first question to the Minister is therefore whether, as the NHS goes through significant change over the next couple of years, integrated care systems will be charged to set up their own clinical networks for strokes and to ensure that they have the specialism for that acute phase of stroke placed in each one and also spread through the network. It is really important that we bring this to the fore, and that, as the NHS changes, we make sure that the right services are in place.

All too often, as patients were discharged from my care, I would fret about where they went. If they went to a specialist rehabilitation centre, I knew that all would be well, but if they went to a more generalist step-down facility, or were discharged into the community, without that specialist input—speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, clinical psychology as well as neuro physio—I would worry. It is a specialism in and of itself; indeed, neuro physio diverts into stroke rehab. Making sure that people have the up-to-date specialist skills makes all the difference. They take a long time to train, but they change the way somebody with a stroke is approached.

One challenge I always found was the pressure to get people out the hospital door and discharged quickly. To actually re-educate somebody’s mind and body to synchronise and work together in a new way takes time, and therefore ensuring that there is that investment in time is really important. We also cannot push somebody because they become tired, so we have this really delicate balancing act of timing.

It is different for absolutely every patient, but as they go through that journey, they need that specialist support. I will give an example. They may be discharged home, but we know that so many people, once they go home, will just sit in a chair, as opposed to carrying on their rehabilitation. Or perhaps, even when getting up from the chair, they will take the short cut of pulling themselves up, increasing their muscle tone, which is detrimental, as opposed to, say, using a proper Bobath method of facilitating their muscles. That makes a real difference how this issue is approached, and therefore the paucity of stroke rehab specialists must be addressed, making sure that that skill mix is there, but also with the right level of training. That is crucial.

I ask for more training around stroke rehab for GPs and in the community in particular. A community physio may deal with respiratory patients, musculoskeletal patients, neuro patients. We want neuro physios in the community through an extension of specialist rehab centres moving into the community while keeping that clinical case load. We also want the same clinicians along a patient’s rehab journey. It is not easy for clinicians to relay information about a patient simply, so following them into the community could be a different way of doing that as opposed to the silos of our institutions that we currently see.

One other thing is really important. We know that stroke is for life, and therefore we need to ensure that the services are there for a substantial amount of time. I have raised the issue of the six-month review, which is far too long to wait—an individual may plateau or even regress in their care. Regular intervention is really needed and, if someone has plateaued or regressed when they could have been progressing, they should be brought back into more specialist care, even if that is residential care, to help them take that step forward again and get that continuity that is needed. If we do not put in those interventions, clearly the impairments experienced by someone will deepen, which will create pressures that will show themselves elsewhere in the NHS or the social care system. Therefore, that investment is so important for people as they are recovering from stroke.

There is clearly so much to be done. I really welcome the call for an APPG and would be happy to serve on such a group should it arise, but as we are currently reimagining healthcare, this is a real opportunity to put the patient’s need at the centre of a stroke service and ensure that we sustain that for the rest of their life.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
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I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill) for securing the debate and you, Sir Edward, for allowing me to speak. Many hon. Members have spoken so eloquently about the problems of rehabilitation and post-stroke care. I must declare an interest: a close family member had a severe stroke over the last lockdown, and I can only describe the post-rehabilitation care as a hell that I would not wish on anyone. As an educated person, I understand the pathways—we have someone there to advocate full time for this person who has had a severe and debilitating stroke—the care pathways out of hospital, however, are broken.

I cannot praise enough the wonderful doctors and the nurses—Dr Joseph Kwan is an excellent stroke specialist—and I cannot say enough good things about the hospital care we now receive through the NHS and privately; it is wonderful. However, it breaks down in rehabilitation—the post-stroke care. As any doctor, OT or speech and language therapist will say, it is how intensive the rehabilitation efforts are in those crucial months after a stroke that will determine the outcome and recovery. In those first six months, a stroke patient will need intensive speech and language OT, physical therapy and perhaps the recovery of basic skills, depending on the severity of the stroke, but it breaks down as we simply do not have the workforce capacity to manage the needs of our population. It is not the fault of anyone. It is simply that we do not have the skillset at our disposal.

Will the Minister consider meeting me and a Department for Education representative to see whether we can have a strategic recruitment drive, perhaps starting in secondary schools, to encourage young people to go into professions such as occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech and language therapy or to become a district nurse, psychologist or neuro physical therapist? We need that specialist support in so many things, but we simply do not have the qualifications or the workforce available, and yet we have young people interested in science and interested in helping in their local community. What better way, as we are restructuring and bringing new changes to the NHS, to incorporate a recruitment drive that would allow young people to enter these specialist professions? We desperately need people in those professions, to help make the difference between someone dying a terrible and painful death in their home and having the additional support they need for a recovery to make their life liveable.

I praise and pay tribute to all the silent carers of covid, who have been helping their loved ones who have suffered a stroke, and who have had to negotiate through the care pathways alone. I thank them for everything they have done. I thank all the carers and health professionals who have done everything they possibly can during covid to help those who have been suffering in silence in their homes, in out-of-hospital care.

I ask that we look at strategic, long-term recruitment for these professions to meet the needs and demands of England, and that we look at how we can develop a much more joined-up and cohesive post-stroke recovery plan, because where the process also breaks down is where someone who is in a hospital in a local authority is discharged into another local authority, where the care pathway has to pass from one council to another and from one NHS trust to another. It is very difficult to maintain a pathway that delivers and communicates that, even to your GP, so those complex pathways tend to break down at the rehabilitation level. I ask that we look at having a stroke passport that those who have recovered might take with them—a physical copy that they can take to any healthcare professional, so that they can see their records and so that there is a clear understanding of where that survivor has come from. That would ease and speed the process of recovery as new carers take on the rehabilitation of that survivor.

I thank hon. Members for being here today and for considering the complex nature of the debate. I hope that we start an all-party parliamentary group—I would have to join as well—to continue raising this important issue in the House.

Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab)
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It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Sir Edward. I thank the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill) for securing the debate and for his detailed introduction. He highlighted that there is increased awareness of the symptoms of strokes, and that acute care has certainly been on an upwards trajectory. The point that he made so eloquently and so personally was that there is still a long way to go on aftercare. He spoke of courage, patience and consistent professional care being needed, and that is something that we all want to see. A number of hon. Members added their personal perspectives to the debate. I believe we always do better when we hear those perspectives.

We also heard a professional perspective, from my hon. Friend the Member for York Central (Rachael Maskell), who set out clearly the importance of specialist services. The question she asked about the future of those in the new structures was very important.

As we heard from various Members, strokes are very prevalent in this country—100,000 a year, or one every five minutes. We also know that two-thirds of stroke survivors leave hospital with a disability, and it is the fourth-largest cause of death in the UK. It is perplexing, as the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst said, that it does not get more of our attention. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Navendu Mishra) said, it is also something of a mystery why the level of research funding is not as high as in other areas, even before the challenges of the pandemic that all voluntary fundraising organisations have faced.

Members will know that the national priority in the NHS long-term plan is the national stroke programme. It is intended to deliver better prevention, treatment and care. It is an ambitious programme, but if it is to succeed, it needs adequate funding. I hope the Minister will be able to set out briefly how that funding is being allocated and what progress is being made to meet the targets and aims set out in the plan. A recent report by the Stroke Association found that thousands of stroke survivors are being let down—in various ways, as we heard in the debate, but particularly in the current provision of post-stroke support and rehabilitation.

The most recent Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme data for April 2019 to March 2020 shows that only 41% of patients received a recorded six-month post-stroke review, and just over a third of applicable patients received recommended levels of physiotherapy or occupational therapy. Less than a fifth received the recommended levels of speech and language therapy. As hon. Members put it in different ways, those figures are clearly not good enough. It needs to be emphasised that that poor record is from before the pandemic.

There were concerns before the pandemic about the shortage of specialist stroke consultants. Figures from Kings College London showed that almost half of hospitals had a shortage of specialist stroke consultants, with 48% of hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland having at least one consultant vacancy in the previous 12 months or more. To pick up on the comment by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Joy Morrissey), the Stroke Association called on the Government and NHS England to make stroke medicine a more attractive proposition for junior doctors to specialise in, as well as the other specialities, and drew attention to the need for nurses and rehabilitation. Can the Minister update us on the number of consultant vacancies and say what steps are in place to introduce a plan to deliver the staffing levels that we so clearly need?

It is clear, from what everyone said, that we need to go further and faster to provide support for stroke survivors. Further investment is vital to ensure equitable access to services, avoid digital exclusion and improve health outcomes, to stop the kind of disparities that we have heard about. We must end the postcode lottery. It is so important that, no matter where you live, you get access to the same quality stroke support services, which are consistent with clinical guidelines. I hope the Minister will address the issues that Members have raised, and will set out what steps the Government intend to take to support more survivors of strokes.

Oral Answers to Questions

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd February 2021

(8 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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We will need to draw many lessons from the pandemic. For instance, my brilliant team who have done all this procurement of PPE have also built an onshore PPE manufacturing capability. With regard to almost all items of PPE, 70% of it is now made onshore in the UK, up from about 2% before the pandemic—likewise for vaccines, where we did not have large-scale vaccine manufacture and we now do, and for a host of other areas, including some of those that the hon. Gentleman mentioned.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con) [V]
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With regard to the recent court ruling on the issuing of PPE contracts, will my right hon. Friend confirm that, as a result of the action taken by Health Department officials, NHS trusts did receive vital PPE, despite there being a global shortage? (912561)

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The court ruling in question found that we were on average 17 days late with the paperwork, but it did not find against any of the individual contracts. My team worked so hard to deliver the PPE that was needed and so, as the National Audit Office has confirmed and as my hon. Friend set out, there was never a point at which there was a national shortage. There were, of course, localised challenges and we were in the situation of a huge increase in global demand, but I think that we should all thank the civil servants who did such a good job.

Covid-19

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Monday 22nd February 2021

(8 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Jessica Morden Portrait Jessica Morden (Newport East) (Lab)
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During previous debates of this nature, it has not always been possible to draw positives from what has been a difficult, dark year for all of us, but the roll-out of the vaccination programme is providing, in my constituents’ words, a glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel. On behalf of my constituents, I want to say a huge thank you to all the staff helping to deliver vaccinations at our GP practices and mass vaccination centres, as well as all the staff at the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and the volunteers working behind the scenes to ensure that this enormous task is undertaken effectively. The Welsh Government also deserve credit for their effective management of the vaccine roll-out. Wales was the first nation to offer the top four priority groups a covid jab, and one in four people in Wales have now received their first dose. Well done, Wales!

While it is right to celebrate the positives, it is also vital that we remember all those who continue to struggle during the lockdown. I want to talk about a few of the issues that have been highlighted in the debate. Young people have had their school and college lives upended by the crisis, and there is still huge uncertainty over the complicated picture around vocational and technical qualifications. It is more complicated in Wales, with some awarding bodies responsible to the Department for Education—that includes BTECs—and some to the Welsh Government. Students and their colleges need clarity on issues such as struggling to get work experience, being assessed and getting their grades awarded. The Welsh Government are doing all they can with colleges such as Coleg Gwent, but UK Education Ministers need to get our national awarding bodies to tell colleges as soon as possible what to do this year.

Mental health is an ongoing concern for people of all generations, and I hope that one positive to emerge from this period will be a renewed focus on the impact of isolation and loneliness in policy making at all levels. There are lots of good groups in my constituency doing good work. I particularly want to thank Newport County AFC, who I met last week, for the work it is doing through its support network for supporters struggling with mental health problems when fans have not been able to meet up at games. The club is a prime example of how sport can act as a force for good in the community, and I encourage other English Football League clubs to learn from its successful model.

I would also like to speak about the plight of asylum seekers in my constituency. Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration processing times are very long, there are lengthy waits for biometric residency permits, and despite a promise to prioritise those who work in the NHS, that does not seem to be happening. There is real hardship out there in that community. There are people with nothing.

I have spoken in previous debates about universal credit. The Chancellor’s decision to scrap the £20 a week uplift from April, amounting to a cut of £1,000 a year, is indefensible, as is the fact that the uplift has never applied to the 2 million on legacy benefits. That needs to be sorted as soon as possible. We also need long overdue action for workers who have been excluded from UK Government support schemes during the pandemic. There is a Labour-led debate on this tomorrow and I hope that Conservative Members will listen and do the right thing.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con) [V]
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I welcome the Government’s decision to prioritise the reopening of schools on 8 March, and that should mean that every child is back in school. According to a study by Co-SPACE and the University of Oxford, there has been overwhelming harm to children from lockdown restrictions and school closures, particularly to their mental health. Child abuse reports to the NSPCC have risen by 79%, and anxiety and depression have increased substantially, as have self-harm, eating disorders and thoughts of suicide, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics, Ofsted and Reachwell. Even when the country was being bombed during world war two, schools remained open. We have no historical precedent for the damaging effect that school closures have had on our children’s education and future.

Since parents have had to shoulder much of the responsibility for teaching during the pandemic, please will the Government commit to consulting representatives of parents’ and children’s groups, as well as teachers and unions, to develop detailed plans for our children to catch up on a lost year of education? Only parents know the full extent of the damage that this lockdown has inflicted on our children, and parents’ voices and parental choice need to be prioritised. We need to be prepared to consider radical options, including summer learning camps and even giving parents the choice to allow their child to repeat the whole academic year.

I urge all MPs to meet parents’ groups—including, for example, UsforThem—to hear about the damaging effects of lockdown and why it is essential for children to return to school. In that parent group, one parent in particular has shared her story with MPs, telling of the emotional and psychological effects the lockdown has had on all her children. She begged MPs to consider the long-term mental health consequences of the lockdown. One of her children developed Tourette’s syndrome in the first lockdown, and this weekend that same child tried to take their own life. They did not want to live in a world under lockdown any more, and at the A&E, the attending physician said that they were seeing an increase in children presenting with mental health disorders during this lockdown. She asked me to share her story today because it is important that parents speak out on behalf of their children and the effects that this lockdown has had.

Depending on the level of trauma, particularly for primary schoolchildren during the pandemic, some children will lose their speech and language ability altogether. We saw this during the first lockdown. Children from every background will be manifesting signs of extreme stress and anxiety upon their return to school, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, anger, aggression and self-harm. I urge that schools in England be given additional funds, ring-fenced, for mental health support for children and for increased levels of teaching staff to help to provide mental and emotional support for children.

Finally, every school I have spoken to during the pandemic has begged the Government and media to stop their negative reporting of the pandemic—

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. I have allowed the hon. Lady to exceed her time in the hope that she was going to conclude, but I am afraid that I have to stop her there.

Covid-19 Update

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Tuesday 9th February 2021

(8 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I refer to the answer I gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper). Absolutely, testing is a very important part of this, as I set out in the statement.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - -

I know that my right hon. Friend is committed to securing our borders. Will he therefore consider commissioning and funding airlines and airports directly to run these new Department of Health and Social Care passenger and border restrictions? Airlines and airports such as BA and Heathrow have the experience, market innovation and incentive to deliver safe travel for Britain. Will my right hon. Friend meet me and representatives from the airline industry so that together we can deliver secure borders but a global Britain?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is exactly our goal, and we have been working very hard with the carriers and airport operators to put this new scheme in place. There is further work to do in the days ahead, and no doubt after its initial introduction on Monday. What I would say very directly to my hon. Friend, the airline industry and the airports is that I know this is very difficult and tough. It is absolutely vital that we all work together constructively, positively and with the spirit of innovation that she describes to put in place a robust system that uses all possible technology to ensure that we have the basis of a future safe global travel arrangement. It is about both securing the borders now and ensuring that we can get global travel going for the long term.

Covid-19 Vaccine Roll-out

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Tuesday 8th December 2020

(10 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I understand why the hon. Lady and many others want to know what the speed of the roll-out will be. Because we are reliant on the manufacturing process, which is itself a difficult challenge, we cannot put figures on when the roll-out will be. We hope that we will be able to lift the measures by the spring, and we hope that we will all have a much more normal summer next year, but I do not want to put too much more detail on it than that, and I cannot put more in terms of the numbers, because there are so many contingencies. What we can be sure of, and what we can work and plan for, is the NHS being able to deliver the roll-out at the speed at which the manufacturers can manufacture.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
- Hansard - -

May I thank my right hon. Friend for all he has done in his fight against the coronavirus, and may I thank the Department for this roll-out of the vaccine? It is actually a monumental step in our fight against the coronavirus—just in time for Christmas. It is the Christmas present we all wanted. Does my right hon. Friend agree with me that, because the UK was one of the first countries to secure the vaccine, we should be able to move more quickly out of local restrictions in the new year, as the vaccine is rolled out?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Well, I very much hope so, but there is some time between now and then, so we have got to temper our joy and enthusiasm at today’s announcement with the need to keep on keeping each other safe between now and then. Let us not blow it, since we can see that the answer is on the horizon.

I reiterate the point that my hon. Friend made about the team in the Department, because my civil servants and special advisers have been amazing during this year. They have worked so hard—seven days a week, often 18 hours a day—and they deserve enormous praise, because this is a team effort and nobody can do this sort of thing on their own.

Covid-19

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Wednesday 11th November 2020

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Emma Hardy Portrait Emma Hardy (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

11 Nov 2020, 12:04 a.m.

The Minister may be aware that Hull has the highest rate of covid infections in the country; we have 161 patients in Hull Royal Infirmary, 16 of whom are in intensive care, and 265 have died since the pandemic began. The situation in Hull and the East Riding is a public health emergency, so where are these Nightingale hospitals to help? I have been told that they have been mothballed and will not be reopened. Our rate is double that of the average in England, and I am incredibly worried about the situation in schools. Despite the headlines saying that they remain open, year groups are being sent home, not to self-isolate, but because teachers are not available to teach in them. Where is the testing for staff, to keep these schools open? Where is this additional support? Why has Hull not had support from the armed forces as Liverpool has had when its rates became so high? We have been promised 10,000 tests, but that will not be enough. This is not a league table I want my city to top; we need that additional help from Government if we are going to move down it.

Losing someone hurts. On Monday, I lost my nan to covid-19. She did not die in Hull; she died somewhere else. I hope that if my mum is watching, she knows that I am sending her all my love from this place and that as soon as possible I will be round there to give her a hug and we can remember all the wonderful things my nan did. It was only last year when I stood up in this Chamber and told everyone what a remarkable woman she was. I urge people to take this situation seriously.

The northern powerhouse study shows that because we started from an uneven point in the north, covid has had a disproportional impact on the cities we represent. The report today says that we have had an extra 12.4 deaths per 100,000 in the northern powerhouse that in the rest of England put together, and an extra 57.7 deaths per 100,000 due to all causes during this pandemic. Things are not equal; this pandemic has not impacted all of us equally, and it has an economic cost. To all those who make the false divide between health and the economy, I say: think again. All those additional people who have died in the areas in the northern powerhouse have had an economic impact—it is not just the heartbreak of people who have lost loved ones. Some £6.86 billion has been lost in economic growth. There is no divide between health and economy; sort out the problem with health and then deal with the problem with the economy. They are not mutually exclusive.

Compliance is falling in my area, and there is mistrust of the Government. We need transparency, honesty and openness. We need a Government to admit it when they get things wrong. We need to explain why the rules are different for golf and for walking, for private worship and for visiting the supermarket, because people will then understand. The gap from Government in information, clarity and transparency is being filled with misinformation, lies and dangerous fake news on social media telling people that this is not real. Well it is real when you lose people. Some 50,000 lives have already been lost in this pandemic. That is 50,000 families who have been impacted. I do not want a Government who are focused on PR, bluster and incoherent metaphors. What I want is a Government just to give people honest and straightforward advice, so that together we can try to deal with this virus.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
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11 Nov 2020, 6:34 p.m.

May I offer my heartfelt condolences to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Emma Hardy)? There is nothing worse than losing a member of your family that you love, and the reason I am here today is to speak on behalf of a mother in my constituency who also lost someone very dear to her—her 21-year-old son, Jamie. Jamie represents a cohort that often falls through the cracks in care, not just during a pandemic but in everyday existence. It is the cohort of working-age disabled adults in long-term residential care.

Jamie’s mother battled for him from the day of his birth to ensure that he had the care and provision that he needed to succeed. She was a teacher, and she is a local community champion. During lockdown, she was denied access to her son. She was unable to visit him and watched in horror as his health and situation deteriorated day by day. He became catatonic, refused to eat, and developed open wounds and bed sores. It was not until lockdown ended that she was able to have access to her son, her only son, but by that point it was too late. Jamie had passed away the week before.

I had been unaware of the situation that Jamie was in, and I am speaking today to raise awareness so that other family members may have access and special visitation rights to a child who is in adult social care and who is struggling during the pandemic. I hope that my speaking about Jamie will help them to get that access and that we will remember to have humanity and compassion for those who are vulnerable and suffering during the pandemic. As a mother myself, I cannot imagine not being able to see my child. I know that many Members in this House have older children, and perhaps they will testify that parenting does not stop at 18 or at 21. You are a parent to your child forever, and to be unable to help and advocate for a child with complex disabilities who cannot speak for themselves is a tragedy. I am here to speak on Jamie’s behalf so that others will have a voice.

I am so grateful for the Government’s announcement that a vaccine is coming and that a mass roll-out of testing is being organised. That will go a long way to help the most vulnerable, but I want this very small cohort to be remembered. I want safeguarding measures to be put in place. As we go into the winter months, we must remember that this patient cohort needs additional support, care and patient advocacy, and that the parents need visitation rights so that they can speak on behalf of those who have no voice.

I would like to pay special tribute to the Minister for Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately), for her work behind the scenes on this issue. She has spent a great deal of time helping and assisting, and she does not get the credit she deserves for trying to advocate for this patient cohort and raising the need for additional support. I thank her, and I thank the Minister here today for answering our questions during this debate. I would also ask that perhaps in future Ministers from other Departments could come to the House to respond to the covid-19 general debates, so that we can ask specific questions and tailor our debate perhaps towards education or the Treasury—

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

11 Nov 2020, 6:38 p.m.

Order. We need to move on.

Family Visits in Health and Social Care Settings: Covid-19

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Wednesday 11th November 2020

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Westminster Hall

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Department of Health and Social Care
Esther McVey Portrait Esther McVey (in the Chair)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I remind hon. Members that there have been some changes to normal practice in order to support the new call list system and to ensure that social distancing can be respected. Members should sanitise their microphones using the cleaning materials provided before they use them, and then place those materials in the bin. They should also respect the one-way system around the room. Members should speak only from the horseshoe, and they can speak only if they are on the call list—that applies even if debates are undersubscribed.

Members cannot join the debate if they are not on the list. Members are not expected to remain for the wind-up speeches. I remind hon. Members that there is less of an expectation that they stay for the next two speeches once they have spoken—that is to help manage attendance in the room. Members may wish to stay beyond their speech, but they should be aware that if there are lots of speakers, doing so might prevent Members in the seats in the Public Gallery from moving to the horseshoe.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
- Hansard - -

11 Nov 2020, 12:01 a.m.

I beg to move,

That this House has considered family visit access in health and social care settings during the covid-19 outbreak.

It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Ms McVey. My main focus in speaking today is to highlight the need for improved patient advocacy and adult safeguarding via visitation rights for family members of working-age disabled adults in full-time residential care, including those admitted to hospital. Such patients often cannot speak for themselves and need additional access to family members who are able to advocate and communicate on their behalf.

I applied for the debate because of an awful situation of a mother in my constituency—a mother, much like me or any hon. Member present, who has had to endure a situation that I hope no mother has to face in the future. She is a teacher, a local community advocate, a single mother and someone who has tirelessly fought for her child’s care needs. She was prevented from caring for her son, Jamie, and forced to abandon him to a care home that did not live up to its name. At 21 years old and with no visitors, he was left isolated, bewildered and depressed, often calling out in anguish, “I want my mum. I want my mum.”

Jamie was a warm and affectionate young man who loved touch, kinaesthetic learning and being with people. His mother was denied access to her child, and I cannot begin to imagine what it must have felt like, knowing that her son was denied the care of his family for months—denied a hug, denied the comfort of a warm hand holding his, and denied dignity in his suffering. As a mother, my constituent felt powerless but sure that, had she been able to see him, she would have identified his decline and been able to intervene.

Underfed, Jamie wasted away, getting thinner and thinner in his confusion and isolation. Separated from those he loved and trusted, with multiple bedsores and open wounds left untreated, he began to withdraw within himself and into a catatonic state of unresponsiveness—a young adult with complex disabilities and care needs, left to suffer in silence. By the time his mother was able to see him, it was too late. She reflected on the lack of status that she felt as a mother, which she felt was shared by many family members. It felt to her as though families are often seen as a nuisance or even a threat, and they are sidelined and ignored by some in adult care homes. This mother also felt strongly that some adult care homes do not embrace the care of the whole person.

Jamie entered full-time care at age 13. As a child in a care setting, it was wonderful. The care was holistic and helped support Jamie in every aspect of his daily life and learning. He thrived in that environment, but the change came when he moved into adult social care. Many adult care homes are excellent and highly skilled in supporting adults with complex disabilities, but others—it might be a very small minority—seem reluctant to work with families or to provide adequate levels of transparency and care. It is an ongoing problem, which existed well before the covid pandemic; that has only highlighted these issues.

Disallowing visits or video links that allow families to see and interact with patients takes away a level of scrutiny that makes those already vulnerable chronically so. Depriving vulnerable working-age disabled adults who have complex disabilities and needs, especially those who already struggle with communication, of the love and support of their families is inhumane and cruel. As a society, we lessen our dignity and humanity when we allow our loved ones to perish alone and to wither away and give up on life. Jamie had no voice, so I am here today to speak on his behalf, and on behalf of his mother and grandmother, to make sure that his story is remembered and that other deaths can be prevented this winter.

I welcome the Government’s support for care homes and adult social care during the pandemic and I thank the Minister for reaching out to me the moment that I applied for this debate. She has been incredibly helpful and I thank her for her active participation in finding a solution and justice in Jamie’s case. I thank the Government for their care home support package in March that announced £1.6 billion funding for local government and £1.3 billion to go to the NHS and social care. In April, a further £1.6 billion was announced for local government and for the adult social care action plan and, in September 2020, the Government published “Adult social care: our COVID-19 winter plan 2020 to 2021”, which was shaped and recommended by the adult social care taskforce. The plan set out key elements of national support available for the social care sector for winter 2020; I welcome everything that was outlined in it.

Finally, I welcome the Government’s announcement on visiting guidelines from 5 November. Allowing visitation is so important for patient care, advocacy, safeguarding and mental wellbeing, particularly for disabled vulnerable patients who may not be able to advocate for their own care needs. Allowing family members to visit could save many lives during the winter months and prevent other vulnerable disabled patients from being neglected, abused and left to suffer and die in silence, while restoring a level of compassion, empathy and humanity to patient care both in hospital and in the care home setting.

Now that we are in the second lockdown I ask the Minister and others to consider what lessons we have learned from the excess deaths in care homes and from the adult safeguarding issues raised during the first lockdown. I understand that the main goal of the Department of Health and Social Care is to protect the NHS, particularly during the winter months, but we also need to save the lives of the vulnerable disabled by allowing each patient to have a family member with them as their advocate and carer. That would be aided by the improvement in mass testing in the coming months and the availability of personal protective equipment. This cohort needs a special exemption. A carer would allow for lives to be saved and, with mass testing and the arrival of a vaccine, that could help safeguard many other lives in the future.

If the NHS reaches capacity, as it often does in the peak winter months of January and February, another alternative would be for a family member or carer of the vulnerable patient to care for them directly in a home, a hospital or care home setting. A family member or loved one can also help with caring for the vulnerable person at home, further reducing the burden of care to the NHS. Many of these family members are able-bodied adults who are at a lower risk of developing serious health problems from covid-19 transmission. We also have to allow people to care for those they love.

I welcome the Government’s announcement in the winter care plan that local authorities should work with social care services to reopen safely, especially day services and respite services. Reopening such day centres would allow families to manage a disabled loved one’s care more effectively, while perhaps reducing the need for full-time residential care and lightening the burden on full-time carers who do not have access to vital daycare facilities. The Relatives and Residents Association, which is an advocacy group, reported that helpline callers had been concerned about the standard of care falling as already stretched services face staff shortages and burn-out. Stopping visits from family and friends restricts the ability for oversight and advocacy.

One of the callers to the association’s helpline said that his wife

“starved herself to death. Her death was due to the pandemic but she did not die from the virus itself. It wasn’t coronavirus—it was death due to a refusal to eat. She was isolated and alone.”

Perhaps the Minister could provide clarity as to whether families are now permitted to remove their loved ones from residential care home settings, and what the protocol for that would be, moving forward.

Jamie’s care home was in a neighbouring county, but his mother and grandmother lived in my constituency. Buckinghamshire County Council and the NHS are excellent and I worked extremely closely with them during the pandemic and the first lockdown to protect care homes and elderly residents, and to reduce the rate of transmission and death in care homes. I was proud of the work that we all did to protect the elderly in South Bucks.

However, the issue of working-age adults with complex disabilities in residential care facilities completely passed me by in the first lockdown, because many of my residents had additional needs and were at home. They were reliant on day centres and respite care. That was the issue I was seeing, not the issue of the long-term residential care crisis.

I did not learn about Jamie’s treatment during lockdown until the week before his death, when it was too late for me to help. That is why I am raising the matter now. This patient cohort cannot speak or advocate for their own care. They require extensive care and support from care home and hospital staff, and could run the greatest risk of being sidelined during a spike in hospital admissions, when staff resources are spread more thinly and they have to prioritise patient care.

Because these patients require the most care it is important that they have a family member who can be with them as their patient advocate and carer, to help ensure that they make it through these winter months. I welcome the Government’s announcement of a vaccine and I know that, with the highlighting of safeguarding, we can get through these winter months, and that Jamie’s memory will not be forgotten.

Esther McVey Portrait Esther McVey (in the Chair)
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11 Nov 2020, 12:02 a.m.

It might be helpful to colleagues to know that I intend to call the Front Benchers by 3.30 pm at the very latest. I would like to ensure that all colleagues get to speak today.

--- Later in debate ---
Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

11 Nov 2020, 3:55 p.m.

I am happy to do that, because I have been looking into that issue as well. The guidance I have been given is that Public Health England and those running the trial want it to take place first in the 30 care homes, which I mentioned. That will enable us to have confidence that those who have had a lateral flow test will be able to visit. There is sequencing to be done, but the issue is at the top of my mind. Lateral flows tests are already being used, and we should make the most of that to enable visiting. I hope to be able to put that more formally in writing in due course.

In the time available, I wish to pick up on a few of the other points that were made in the debate. The hon. Member for St Albans (Daisy Cooper) referred to the 30-minute time limit. I believe that that must be something that the care home in question has chosen to put in place. Our guidance advises that one should book a visit with a care home, but does not stipulate a 30-minute limit.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) set out an excellent list of things for me to take forward. Many of them are indeed in train, such as testing and work on the vaccine. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has proposed that care home staff and residents should be at the top of the list for that. He mentioned a reporting mechanism, which I am also taking forward.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Dan Carden) referred to the lottery of visits. On the one hand, we responded to local authorities and care homes when they asked for more discretion and a local say in how we respond to the pandemic; on the other, we can find that in one area there is far more access than in another, so we need to combine allowing local discretion with being able to investigate whether somewhere is not being so supportive of visits. We need to ask what is going on and how can we bring this about.

My hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield focused on the situation of those of working age living in a residential care home. As she said, they have been talked about less during the pandemic than those of an older age, but the people of working age living in residential care are absolutely at the top my mind. As we have seen during the pandemic, those with learning disabilities might be at greater risk if they catch covid, and, like those of an older age with dementia, they need family visits and the support, love and advocacy of a family member.

As my hon. Friend also said, the pandemic has shone a light on some of the problems that existed in our social care system before the pandemic. Yes, the pandemic has been hard for social care, but there were problems before. Although the vast majority of care homes have provided wonderful supportive care—indeed, loving care—for those who live in their buildings, some have sadly let down those they care for. We must continue to identify, intervene and prevent cases where there is neglect or, worse, the abuse of those living in residential care.

We are in the thick of a pandemic that has made life so hard for those living and working in the social care sector. We have to step forward, get on the front foot and really achieve the social care reform that everyone has been crying out for, for so long. This is an, “If not now, when?” moment. We will seize this moment not only to support social care through the pandemic, but to bring about a system of social care where we can hold our heads up high and be happy for the care of our loved ones, our friends and family, or indeed for ourselves, should the time come when we need it.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey
- Hansard - -

11 Nov 2020, 3:55 p.m.

I thank the Minister for her kindness and humanity, and for how she and her Department reached out to me personally. That demonstrates her care and her compassion both for this subject and for those working age adults with complex needs and disabilities whose voices might not have been heard over the years. I appreciate her one-on-one attention and the engagement she has dedicated to the topic. I am incredibly grateful.

I want to highlight the excellent contributions of all hon. Members today. Although we come from different parties, we are united in wanting to highlight the needs of the most vulnerable and wanting to thank our care workers.

I also thank the Scottish National party spokesperson, the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson), for her incredible weighing up of the impossible situation that every Government, every Member of Parliament and every public health official finds themselves in. We did not even know what the devastating effects of the virus would be. It attacks the elderly and those who are already in care. We have the impossible situation of their mental wellbeing versus the actual preserving of life. No matter what party we are from and no matter our background, this is one of the most difficult challenges that any generation of politicians has ever had to face. I thank her for reminding us of the humanity involved.

Motion lapsed (Standing Order No. 10(6)).

Covid-19 Update

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Tuesday 10th November 2020

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We want as little impact on the rest of NHS activity as possible. Of course, we are having to take that action in some high-prevalence areas. That decision takes into account local circumstances; it is not a blanket, national decision as it was in March. The most important thing that we can all do to keep our NHS open for non-covid treatment is to abide by the rules and have that lockdown in place.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for securing the vaccine. That is a ray of hope for us all. I look forward to hearing more about the developments in the coming weeks and months. Will he join me in paying tribute to the military, who have worked tirelessly to deploy the mass testing of the vaccine, and update the House on his plans for the military to be used with regard to the vaccine in the coming months?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Absolutely. The armed services of this country have played an amazing role during the pandemic. I have talked about a war against a virus, in which we are all on the same side. The military have done and are doing their bit, and there is a lot more that we will need from them in the future. They are involved in the mass testing and the vaccine roll-out, and I am very grateful for their support.

Covid-19

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Tuesday 1st September 2020

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have addressed several of those points already in questions. The idea that, instead of the large-scale national system working together with local contact tracers, we should disparage one part and praise the other—this divisive approach proposed by the SNP spokesperson—is wholly wrong and would lead to things getting worse, not better. Instead, we need to work together to improve the system, in the same way the Scottish Government and the UK Government worked together to provide testing capability right across Scotland.

On the arrangements for the future of PHE, we look around the world for the best way to ensure we have systems at a national level that can respond to the virus, in the same way we put in place the Joint Biosecurity Centre, when we worked closely with the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Administration to ensure the best possible system—for instance, when cases move over a border. Some of the best systems in the world, such as the German system, have an institute dedicated to infectious disease control. I am convinced that the enormous amounts of extra money we are putting into health protection, along with the extra support going in and the clarity and dedication of the new National Institute for Health Protection, will be a step forward. I pay tribute to all those who have worked in PHE and right across the board to keep people safe during this crisis.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
- Hansard - -

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s announcement of two groundbreaking tests that will allow people to be tested for coronavirus in less than 90 minutes. Will he aim for these tests to be rolled out as soon as possible, particularly in care homes, and may I suggest that the roll-out begin in Buckinghamshire, particularly Beaconsfield?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will certainly look into whether the roll-out can start in Buckinghamshire. Thankfully, it has a relatively low rate of the virus, which is good news, and we are working to ensure that the testing system there is as effective as it can be. That will include using this new generation of testing when we can begin to roll it out more broadly than the current pilots.

Coronavirus Response

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Monday 20th July 2020

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I pay tribute to the hon. Lady’s campaigning on these issues. We have worked closely together to bring really positive news on the treatments for cystic fibrosis on which she has campaigned so strongly. She also made the case very clearly on Spinraza, which I have since discussed with NHS England. It is, of course, NHS England’s statutory responsibility to take a decision, but I discussed it with NHS England, as I committed to do so to her and her constituent, Jake.

I say to all those in the shielding category that we have recommended that shielding restrictions come to an end at the end of this month because it is clinically advised that the levels of new infections are low enough that it is safe to do so. It is safe to do so. I plead with those who are shielding to listen to this clinical advice, because we also know that staying at home and not seeing other people has downsides to health too. If anyone wants proof that we will not take this step unless we are confident that it is safe, we have paused the end of shielding in Leicester exactly because rates of infection are higher—to keep people safe. People can be assured that it is safe, from the end of this month, for those in the shielding category to go out into the community, taking the precautions that everybody should take.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
- Hansard - -

May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the significant drop in hospital admissions? As we continue to come to grips with this virus, does he agree that local response and local action is key to preventing and containing future spikes? Will he join me in praising the excellent work of Buckinghamshire clinical commissioning group and our local authority, which worked together to create a joint action plan to keep admission rates low?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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I am pleased to congratulate all those working in Buckinghamshire—the council, the CCG and the other parts of the NHS—on their work to keep Buckinghamshire safe. The number of infections across Buckinghamshire is very low now, and we want to keep it that way.

I also take this opportunity to answer part of the question from my hon. Friend the Member for South Derbyshire (Mrs Wheeler) that I did not answer. More powers, as well more data, will be available to local areas to take more local action themselves, without having to refer up to the Secretary of State to use my powers. Of course, national Government hold further powers for significant action, which we have had to use just the once, but we will give local areas more powers, as well as more data, to be able to grip this issue locally.

Health and Social Care Workers: Recognition and Reward

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Thursday 25th June 2020

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson (Twickenham) (LD)
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All sides of the House have rightly recognised the immense sacrifice and service to this country made by our health and care workforces, but it is now time to put our money where our mouths are and start to recognise and reward those staff. We on the Liberal Democrat Benches have argued through this crisis for a package of frontline support, including something akin to the deployment allowance given to the military frontline. We should have a frontline service award of a daily allowance during this crisis, but beyond that, this is not the time for a pay freeze. Negotiations on public sector pay must reflect the service and sacrifice that many on the frontline have made for us and our loved ones.

In social care, many do not work in the public sector. Two million people in care jobs are largely on the minimum wage. Half are on zero-hours contracts, yet they are undertaking highly skilled work, taking care of the most vulnerable and providing intimate care. They are often not paid benefits or for travel time, which can be significant in London. It is possible to earn more money stacking shelves in Tesco. It is important to recognise that they have very few career prospects and little training. The pay differential between careworkers with less than a year of experience and those with more than 20 years’ experience has now reduced to just 15p an hour. That is because of the funding crisis in social care, which is keeping those wages down. The case for ensuring that our careworkers are at the very least paid the real living wage is overwhelming and a moral imperative.

In the longer term, to tackle the workforce crisis and put social care on an equal footing with the NHS, pay scales must be reviewed and ideally aligned with the NHS, but that obviously needs to go hand in hand with tackling the long-term funding crisis in social care. Those reforms are well overdue.

We know there is a huge number of migrant workers in social care and in the NHS. The figure is one in seven in the NHS and one in six in the care workforce. We on the Liberal Democrat Benches have argued through the crisis that the cruel policy of no recourse to public funds must be suspended. That is particularly relevant for those on the frontline who may be reticent to take time off or self-isolate because they are only eligible for statutory sick pay, which, frankly, is not enough to live on. A number of other benefits are not available to them, but, most importantly, when people have put their lives on the line for us and our loved ones, we must recognise those workers by granting them indefinite leave to remain. A visa extension is not enough. It is not enough to just take their service and say, “Bye bye. Thank you very much.” We have a moral responsibility to allow them to stay.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
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25 Jun 2020, 12:05 a.m.

I hope you will join me, Mr Speaker, in paying tribute to the incredible work of careworkers across Beaconsfield. In Denham Manor, Lent Rise House and Chiltern House in Gerrards Cross, countless hours and much time has been spent. They have been the real heroes in Bucks, and I pay tribute to them, but I also want to look at how we distribute funding for our careworkers.

We have always looked at adult social care as being on the bottom tier of the ladder in terms of the NHS funding allocation, and I would like to see it brought up to the top. I would like to see it given equal footing with the NHS to allow for career progression and for the statutory duty that councils now have to take on. That should be reflected in the money that is allocated to councils to carry out their care responsibilities.

We have gotten through this crisis, and I pay tribute to my local council and Bucks clinical commissioning group, but we need to look at how we can give careworkers the respect and the pay that they deserve as we move forward. The money comes from the same pot, but we need to look at how it is allocated. I hope the Minister will join me in looking at how we can help give people in the care sector career progression, the pay they deserve and respect for the jobs that they hold.

Zarah Sultana Portrait Zarah Sultana (Coventry South) (Lab)
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25 Jun 2020, 12:05 a.m.

I begin by thanking every single health and care worker in my constituency of Coventry South. They have gone over and beyond to keep us safe and healthy. I know that I speak on behalf of all of Coventry when I say thank you. They have faced this crisis with incredible strength, selflessness and determination. At its height, millions of people across the country went out every Thursday to clap for health and care workers. Now it is our responsibility to match that appreciation with meaningful action— with NHS staff and carers getting the real pay rise and recognition that they so richly deserve.

The simple truth is that NHS staff and carers have been failed for far too long. Since 2010, newly qualified nurses have faced an 8% pay cut. Half of frontline carers are paid less than the minimum wage and years of devastating cuts to the NHS and neglect of care work have left us all more vulnerable to a pandemic. We saw that with the PPE shortages in hospitals when the crisis hit. We saw that when doctors and nurses repeatedly —desperately—asked for testing, only to be told that there was not capacity. We saw it again with black and ethnic minority NHS workers killed by coronavirus at a disproportionately higher rate, exposing the inequalities that lie at the heart of our society.

Let me go through some of the experiences that my constituents who work in our health and care system have told me of. There are migrants who work on the frontline, but have been hit by the hostile environment and burdened with visa fees and health surcharges. There are NHS staff who, until recently, were forced to pay obscene parking charges at University Hospital Coventry—in some cases, almost £500 a year. These charges are exploitatively set by private companies that are making profits on the back of our workers.

There are nurses robbed of NHS bursaries, leading to a 32% decrease in nursing applicants nationwide. Now we have an overstretched and overworked workforce, with more than 7,500 nursing vacancies in the midlands alone, which has been called a “full-blown crisis” by the Royal College of Nursing. Then there are the A&E workers, who face a mental health crisis, with one of my constituents describing their work as heart-breaking and soul-destroying, and their work environment as a war zone.

Those are just some of the wrongs done to the NHS and care workers in my constituency. I urge the Government, who clapped for them through this crisis, to match that with action: give our carers, nurses, porters and cleaners a real pay rise; end poverty wages in the NHS and care work; ensure that they are all on good contracts with no more precarious work; give indefinite leave to remain to all migrant workers; and restore the NHS to a truly public service, free from privatisation and run for the public good, not private profit.

Covid-19: R Rate and Lockdown Measures

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Monday 8th June 2020

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has misquoted Professor Edmunds, and I think he should go and look at what was actually said.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
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8 Jun 2020, 4:34 p.m.

Will my right hon. Friend join me in praising the carers in Beaconsfield for their tireless work? Can he confirm that the only reason we are now able to consider local lockdowns is because of our testing capabilities, along with NHS test and trace, which are helping to build a more accurate picture of what is going on in different parts of the country?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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Yes, I would like to thank the carers of Beaconsfield for the work they have done through this crisis and before. I tell them that the value and esteem with which we hold them is so high and we are so grateful for what they do. My hon. Friend is right that you simply could not have a localised approach, and therefore the safety of reducing safely and cautiously the overall lockdown measures, without a significant testing capacity. Thanks to the teamwork of the NHS, Public Health England and many, many private companies, we have built the largest coronavirus testing capacity in Europe from almost nothing. It is a testament to so many people, to the team effort and to the way the country has rallied behind that need.

Covid-19 Response

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Monday 18th May 2020

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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18 May 2020, 4:09 p.m.

We absolutely did a throw a protective ring around social care, not least with the £3.2 billion-worth of funding we put in right at the start, topped up with £600 million-worth of funding on Friday. Further to that, the hon. Lady does know, I think, that testing has been carried out in care homes throughout. Of course there is always more that we should and will do, but we have been working very hard and closely with the adult social care sector. Towards the start of this crisis, I was meeting the leaders of adult social care in Downing Street with the Prime Minister. We have been working very hard to tie together our response in what is a very diverse sector.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con) [V]
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18 May 2020, 4:10 p.m.

Will my right hon. Friend join me in praising the work of local initiatives such as Makers 4 the NHS in Beaconsfield, who have volunteered their time and money to help to contribute and deliver PPE to the NHS and care homes? Following the announcement of the new guidelines surrounding PPE production, will my right hon. Friend ensure that local groups like Makers 4 the NHS are not excluded from delivery of PPE, and will he meet me to discuss how we can support local businesses who are already supporting the NHS and local covid-19 responses?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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18 May 2020, 4:11 p.m.

Yes, I would be very happy to meet my hon. Friend, possibly via Zoom—other videoconferencing services are available—to discuss what Makers 4 the NHS and other voluntary organisations and groups of volunteers have come together to deliver with regard to PPE: it is absolutely fantastic. I pay tribute, too, to the Daily Mail’s PPE campaign, which has raised an enormous amount to bring in PPE from China. But those who are making it here in Britain I salute and I thank.

Covid-19 Update

Joy Morrissey Excerpts
Tuesday 5th May 2020

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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I reiterate the point I made in response to earlier questions. I hope that in his response to all his constituents, the hon. Gentleman will send a link to the NHS website, where the answer to his question was set out extremely clearly right from the start. It is very clear that there are three groups of people. Those who have received a letter from the NHS saying that they must shield for 12 weeks are in that category; those who have not are not. I know that some media reports have stated otherwise, but I implore people to follow the guidance clearly set out on the NHS website, which the hon. Gentleman and any other Member who has questions about that should send to their constituents to inform them. It is a matter of our public duty. It is not a matter of political debate.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con) [V]
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5 May 2020, midnight

What provision has my right hon. Friend made for the visually impaired during covid-19?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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5 May 2020, 12:01 a.m.

Getting new Government guidance to the visually impaired is of course a challenge. It is something we have been working hard on. In the first instance, the first port of call should be primary care—somebody’s GP or 111—if there are any queries. That is where I would point people in the first instance. It has been a challenge, because we have been making policy at speed, and writing and updating guidance at speed, but I would point those who are visually impaired to 111 and their GP if they have any questions.