Health and Social Care Leadership Review

Peter Bone Excerpts
Wednesday 8th June 2022

(2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I know that he has a long-standing, valuable interest in this issue. I appreciate that he has not had time to look at the report, but I think he will be pleased when he reads our recommendations around a modern training plan.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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The most important thing that happened in Westminster this week was yesterday’s reception for Harry’s Pledge. Harry is a young boy who needs a lot of care. Harry’s Pledge campaigns for the needs of carers and those who are cared for. I am introducing a private Member’s Bill to give guidance for that. Will the Secretary of State look at that Bill to see whether the Government could support it? Leaders in care need to have the guidance to judge whether they are succeeding.

Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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This is a very important issue for my hon. Friend. I would be happy to meet him to discuss it further.

Government Action on Suicide Prevention

Peter Bone Excerpts
Wednesday 8th June 2022

(2 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Westminster Hall is an alternative Chamber for MPs to hold debates, named after the adjoining Westminster Hall.

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Sarah Olney Portrait Sarah Olney (Richmond Park) (LD)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) for securing this debate. I can see that the subject is really difficult for her to talk about and I thank her for sharing her experience. I was struck by what she said at the end about how it is the people left behind who take on the suffering. I have had a bit of an insight into what she talked about.

I have a constituent here today, Mr Philip Pirie, who I am glad has been able to join us; he is in the Public Gallery. Philip’s son Tom took his own life in July 2020. I have been working with Mr Pirie since then and talking to him about his experience of suicide and how it has impacted him and his wider family and Tom’s family and friends. Mr Pirie highlighted a particular issue in Tom’s experience, and I have been happy to work with him on a campaign. We have previously spoken to the Minister about it.

Tom was a schoolteacher. He loved to travel and spoke three languages. He was much loved by his friends and family. Subsequent to his death there was a memorial football match, which was held to commemorate him, between his former school and club teams. Tom did seek help for his mental health issues, and he spoke to a therapist just a day before he took his own life.

A troubling feature of Tom’s experience is that he was assessed by his counsellor, at that meeting the day before his death, as being at low risk of suicide. That is something that has caused Philip and the wider family a great deal of distress, because if Tom had not been deemed to be at low risk of suicide, more might have been done to save him. So Philip has taken up with me the issue of suicide risk assessments by counsellors and how they are being used. It is a big issue.

We heard from the hon. Member for Blaydon (Liz Twist) about the extent to which suicide is a public health issue. The thing that has struck me is that suicide is the most common cause of death among young people aged 20 to 34—that is how much of a risk it is to our young people. More than anything else, that is how they are losing their lives.

Of the 17 people who die by suicide every day in this country, five would have been in touch with mental health services. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Dan Carden) mentioned that that is not enough, because so many people do not seek help. Of the five who have been in touch with mental health services, four will have been assessed as at low or no risk, as we have seen Tom Pirie was. That raises questions as to how we assess suicide risk, and I would like the Minister to address that.

Mr Pirie and I have organised an open letter and had a wide range of signatories to it. These include Steve Mallen from the Zero Suicide Alliance, who has already been mentioned, Mind, Samaritans, Papyrus, General Sir Nick Carter—we were very privileged to have his engagement with us—and a cross-party selection of MPs. This is really about discussing the current suicide risk assessment procedure, because we think that it needs some serious and urgent attention. We think that the standardised risk assessment tools as they are currently being used are poor predictors of suicide, and national guidelines have determined that they should not be used for that purpose. There is widespread concern that risk assessment tools are being used ineffectively, and that it is leading to the outcomes that we have seen in the case of Tom Pirie and others. We think that suicide risk assessment tools have a positive predictive value of less than 5%, which potentially means that they are wrong more than 95% of the time.

In its “Self-harm and suicide in adults” report from July 2020—the month that Tom Pirie took his life—the Royal College of Psychiatrists stated that

“the current approach to risk assessment is fundamentally flawed.”

The Government published a suicide prevention strategy for England in 2012, and they have recently announced a review and issued a call for evidence. The National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group is preparing to issue its recommendations for the review of that strategy, and the letter asks that:

“The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care ensure that the new suicide prevention strategy includes a review of the use of suicide risk assessments in breach of current guidelines and to take appropriate steps to ensure that existing guidance around not using these tools to assess suicide risk be strictly followed by both the public and private health sectors.”

That is a really important point, because there is a lot of mental health support that happens outside the NHS. Informal and unqualified support can sometimes be provided, and it is really important that the public understand and can have faith in the kinds of people who are advertising their support services for mental health patients, and that there is guidance and regulation around what is available.

In 2007, the Department of Health published a document entitled, “Best Practice in Managing Risk”, which underpinned and gave approval to some suicide risk assessment procedures. That important document is relied on by a number of institutions, including the Care Quality Commission and the coroner service, but has not been updated since 2009. We would really like to see the Department of Health and Social Care commit to updating the document alongside the strategy review, to ensure that the best current guidance is available to mental health practitioners in all sectors, that there is appropriate use of suicide risk assessment tools, and that we do not see a repeat of the situation that happened to Tom Pirie, who was assessed as a low risk the very day before he took his own life. I learned, in speaking to Tom’s father Philip, that it gave Tom the sense that he was not being listened to, and that his concerns and troubles were not being taken seriously. Obviously we will never know, but that cannot have been a helpful indicator for him at that moment in his life.

I pay tribute to Philip, who has been incredibly brave, and I know this has been a very difficult time for him. I am here today to urge the Minister to take on board my asks around risk assessment tools, because it would be a great tribute not just to Tom, but to Philip and his wider family.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (in the Chair)
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It might be helpful to say that we have three Back Benchers trying to catch my eye. I have to start the wind-ups no later than 10.30 am, so each Member has six or seven minutes max.

Oral Answers to Questions

Peter Bone Excerpts
Tuesday 19th April 2022

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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Integration between the NHS and social care requires the right level and quality of workforce, both in the NHS and in adult social care. In the NHS in England, we have more doctors and nurses—more people working than ever before. In adult social care, we are recruiting at high levels, not least because of the huge recruitment campaign we ran with the sector, and some of the other changes we made, including the £400 million- plus of retention funding over the winter period. In addition, the support for the workforce more generally is making a real difference.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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In north Northamptonshire, integration is getting on very well, with Councillor Helen Harrison heading the adult social services. However, going back to what my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton South (Andrew Lewer) said, there is the worry that because the NHS is so big it will overwhelm local government. I have told the Secretary of State that they do not want to mess with Helen Harrison, but can he ensure that there is a mechanism for reviewing that?

Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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I know that my hon. Friend knows Helen Harrison extremely well, but he is right to talk about the importance of the NHS and the adult social care sector and local authorities working together. We must make sure that it is a true partnership, where one does not overwhelm the other and they work together towards their shared interests.

--- Later in debate ---
Maria Caulfield Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Maria Caulfield)
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I thank the hon. Lady for her question, and we have met to discuss this previously. I am happy to discuss with Health Education England whether one of its centres for dentist development could be suitable for her constituency.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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T6. In 2019 Kettering General Hospital, which serves my constituency, was promised £46 million for a major upgrade. Three years later the hospital still has not got the money. Secretary of State, will you go out and buy a very big pair of scissors, cut through the red tape and get it sorted?

Edward Argar Portrait The Minister for Health (Edward Argar)
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No one, with the possible exception of my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone), is more passionate than my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) about seeing improvements delivered in their local hospital, and I had the pleasure of visiting. As my hon. Friend will know, the £46 million was allocated originally for an urgent treatment centre; the hospital asked that that be changed and it folded in with the overall programme. It has yet to submit a business case for the enabling works; when it does, I will make sure that it is expedited.

Elective Treatment

Peter Bone Excerpts
Tuesday 8th February 2022

(6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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I agree with the hon. Gentleman that all those working in health, and social care for that matter, have been the heroes of this pandemic. Everything that they have delivered and gone through over the last two years is something that the whole nation will respect. He is right to also point out that the expectation over the next few years for delivering on the plan is very high, and the workforce of course deserve maximum support. When it comes to pay, it is right that the Government listen to the independent pay review bodies, which will take into account a number of factors, and that is exactly what we did last year.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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I am grateful to the Secretary of State for coming to the House and making this announcement here first. Does he agree that, as other Members have said, particularly Opposition Members, we need to increase the workforce? How then can the mandatory vaccination of NHS health workers, which was going to lose us 80,000 people, possibly have been right? We knew the covid backlog was there, so how on earth was that ever a good policy? I know that Opposition Members supported it hugely, but Conservative Members had their doubts. Was it not a wrong decision?

Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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I agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of the workforce, but I am afraid I do not agree with his comments about the plans for mandatory vaccination. I will not go through the details again; I did make a statement to the House on that last week, and in fact it was supported by the vast majority of Members of this House. The short answer to his question is that it is all about patient safety. The Government and the NHS are always absolutely right to put patient safety first, and although the Government have now, in the light of omicron, rightly changed their plans, it is still the professional responsibility of everyone working in healthcare to get vaccinated.

Elective Care Recovery in England

Peter Bone Excerpts
Monday 7th February 2022

(6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

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Edward Argar Portrait Edward Argar
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The hon. Lady raises an important point. I know that the House is grateful for her work on this important issue. She highlights the NICE guidelines, which are an important step forward. We continue to work with NHS England on how to most effectively ensure that patients with ME get the early diagnosis and treatment that they need. I or the relevant policy Minister will be happy to meet her to discuss progress and her and the APPG’s thoughts and ideas in that space.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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The Minister is right in what he says again and again. I remember a few years ago, a close relative had liver cancer. They went to see the consultant and were given a one in three chance of surviving but managed to pull through. At the same time, another Government plan for the NHS was announced. I said, “What about that?”, and they said, “Well, we just ignore it, because they’ll change it again in a few years. What we actually do is get on and do best practice now.” I think what the Minister is saying is happening at the moment. What the Government could do in the plan is cut red tape in the NHS, which might speed up the construction of the hospital that we need in Kettering, which is so welcome.

Edward Argar Portrait Edward Argar
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend not only for his well-timed plug for his local hospital in Kettering but for his important point. The NHS and the Government have been getting on with improving things and trying to bring service levels back to pre-pandemic levels. Notwithstanding his comment about plans more broadly, it is important for us to have a clear long-term strategic approach to it, because the sums of money involved are significant. The waiting lists and the impact on those are significant. It is right to ensure that we have a clear plan and clear metrics to show how that public money will deliver the outcomes that we all want to see delivered and that those patients want to see.

Covid-19: Purchasing Effort

Peter Bone Excerpts
Thursday 3rd February 2022

(6 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Edward Argar Portrait Edward Argar
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I think the hon. Gentleman nodded assent, so we may be in agreement on that point. I put on record my tribute and my gratitude to them for all their hard work to protect the frontline.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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In reality, back at the beginning of the pandemic, the Opposition were calling for the Government to go faster. It seems to me that one of the great success stories of this Government is that they got the PPE and the ventilators and, by doing so, saved a lot of lives. Does the excellent Minister agree that, unfortunately, the rhetoric coming from the Opposition now is completely different from what it was at the time of the pandemic?

Edward Argar Portrait Edward Argar
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Far be it from me to suggest that hindsight characterises the approach adopted by Opposition Front Benchers, but he is absolutely right. I mentioned the shadow Chancellor, the hon. Member for Leeds West (Rachel Reeves). She also said in this place:

“Those who look after the sick and the vulnerable deserve our protection, and getting PPE to them is the priority of all of us.”—[Official Report, 4 May 2020; Vol. 675, c. 412.]

She was absolutely right and remains right, and that is why this Government did exactly that. Protecting the taxpayers’ pound is hugely important. Equally, so too is procuring the kit that protects lives. In the unique circumstances that we faced at the time in 2020, I believe that this Government made the right choices.

Covid-19 Update

Peter Bone Excerpts
Thursday 13th January 2022

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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That is an important point. When the country first discovered omicron, the tests that were in stock were not designed for another huge wave. However, the people who run testing at UKHSA responded very quickly by ordering almost any lateral flow tests that meet our standards that they could find. As I said in my statement, in December, we had 300 million as opposed to the 100 million that was originally planned and, in January, there will be four times the pre-plan amount. In answer to the hon. Lady’s specific question, whether for a workplace, for visiting a care home or other reasons, people will be able to get access to the lateral flow tests now that millions more have arrived in the country. They have been distributed and people can get them online or from pharmacies.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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I am very grateful to the excellent Secretary of State for coming to the Dispatch Box yet again to update the House and particularly for making an announcement first in the House rather than to the media.

I wonder whether my right hon. Friend agrees with Lord Frost, who said:

“I would like to see the Government ruling out lockdowns for the future, repealing the legislation, ending them…We can’t afford it, it doesn’t work, stop doing Covid theatre—vaccine passports, masks, stuff that doesn’t work”.

Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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I have huge respect for Lord Frost and for my hon. Friend, who has just shared some important points. No one wants to see this country go back into anything resembling a lockdown. As he will have heard earlier, while we have had to put some restrictions—the so-called plan B—in place over the past few weeks, I hope he will agree that, when we reflect on those restrictions and compare them with other countries in Europe, large or small, we are the freest country in Europe. The reason for that is the pharmaceutical defences that I talked about earlier: we are the most boosted large country in Europe, with the most antivirals per head and the most testing. That is what we should focus on for the future as we learn to live with covid.

Tobacco Control Plan

Peter Bone Excerpts
Tuesday 16th November 2021

(8 months, 4 weeks ago)

Westminster Hall
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Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (in the Chair)
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Before we begin, I remind Members that they are expected to wear face coverings when not speaking in the debate, in line with current Government and House of Commons Commission guidance. I remind Members that they are asked by the Commission to have a covid lateral flow test twice a week if coming on to the parliamentary estate. This can be done either at the testing centre in the House or at home. Please also give each other and members of staff space when seated, and when entering and leaving the room. That is particularly important today—it is so cold in this room that I do not blame you for huddling together. If any of you wish to put extra clothing on or to use a coat as a blanket, please do so.

Covid-19 Vaccinations

Peter Bone Excerpts
Thursday 4th November 2021

(9 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Maggie Throup Portrait Maggie Throup
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The hon. Lady makes a very good point. I find it really concerning that one in six people in hospital with covid are unvaccinated pregnant women and it is an issue that I wholeheartedly want to address. I encourage every lady who is either looking to become or is pregnant to talk to their midwife and their GP and get reassurance that vaccines are safe for that cohort of ladies. The best thing they can do is to protect themselves and their babies.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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I got my jabs on time, I then managed to get covid—probably from this place—and I have also had my booster jab. I understand from the Minister that there is a new antiviral drug; how would that have been given to me when I was quite poorly with covid? When we have new drugs, can we give them easier names to pronounce?

Maggie Throup Portrait Maggie Throup
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My hon. Friend makes a good point: I do not know why the pharmaceutical companies come up with these tongue-tying names for their drugs. As I said earlier, we need to make sure that we roll out the new antiviral to the right people. The important and exciting thing is that the drug can be taken in people’s homes.

NHS England Funding: Announcement to Media

Peter Bone Excerpts
Monday 25th October 2021

(9 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Edward Argar Portrait Edward Argar
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is right that the waiting list is 5.7 million and growing. As she will have seen, the Secretary of State has made it clear that the number could grow to more than 13 million if all those who would normally have come forward in the previous year do come forward. That is exactly why we are taking these steps. Rather than expressing concern about the announcement, I would have thought she would welcome this investment, this new money, to help tackle those waiting lists. Of that 5.7 million, around 1.36 million—I may be slightly out—are waiting for diagnostic tests, which is why this is so crucial.

The hon. Lady asks where the money is coming from. She tempts me, but I am afraid she will have to wait until Wednesday’s Budget for the Chancellor to set out how he is funding each of the announcements.

The hon. Lady touched on the single most important element of our ability to tackle the pandemic and to respond to the consequences for the elective waiting list and, as I know she would, I put on record our thanks and gratitude to those staff. Radiologists and radiographers are the key people in this space, and since 2010 we have increased the clinical radiology workforce by 48% from 3,239 to 4,797 full-time-equivalent posts. The number of diagnostic radiographers is up by 33% since 2010.

Does that mean we need to continue to do more? Of course it does, and she is right to highlight the need for continued investment in our workforce. She will have seen last month’s announcement of £12 billion of funding, a significant part of which will help to build that workforce, on top of the commitments we made at the last election and on which we are delivering.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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The well-known journalist Michael Crick put out on Twitter:

“Tonight, in quick succession, I—& no doubt other reporters—received 6 Treasury press releases about what’s in next week’s budget—5 of them embargoed to various times over weekend… Whatever became of budget secrecy & announcing things to MPs first?”

The Government have put up a good Minister, so we cannot have a go at him for that, but why does he not go back and tell his friends in the Treasury, at the very least, to provide Members with copies of these embargoed press releases? If it is good enough for the media, it is good enough for us in this House.

Edward Argar Portrait Edward Argar
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend, indeed my friend, and I understand and entirely appreciate where he is coming from. He is an assiduous parliamentarian and quite rightly, as Mr Speaker alluded to, he takes the role of this House extremely seriously, as do I. I suspect that what he says, just as what Mr Speaker said, has been heard loud and clear both in the Department of Health and Social Care and across the Government, including in the Treasury.