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MP visits Riverside’s Jamaica Street Project

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones visited Riverside’s Jamaica Street Project on Saturday 11th November and met with the Area Manager, Centre Manager and a number of residents.  The team on-site provide support to people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, from across the Bristol area. Referrals are made to the centre by Bristol City Council with space available in self-contained flats, with dogs being accepted in a number of the apartments. Crucially, the team provide named support and work with residents to source appropriate longer-term accommodation.

The team showed Darren the accommodation on-site and talked through some of support options available to residents.

Darren said:

“It was invaluable for me to speak with residents and staff at the Riverside scheme. The team provide emergency accommodation, care and support services to some of our cities most vulnerable people. Riverside is clearly a values-driven organisation with a strong sense of social responsibility. The residents I spoke to were clear about the need for the services such as those Riverside provides, and how important these bases are to them as individuals. Housing is at breaking point with extremely high demand for social housing and with many people finding themselves unable to afford private rents, organisations such as Riverside provide vital support to people when they most need it”.

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MP visits Southmead Hospital and meets CCG Chief Exec

In a day of health-related meetings (10th November), Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones met Southmead Hospital Chief Executive, Andrea Young and completed a tour of the hospital’s modern Brunel Building.

Andrea and Darren discussed the impact of Weston A and E’s closure on Southmead, Brexit and the hospital team’s preparations for winter.

Darren is now planning to meet some of the nursing staff to hear their views on how Brexit will affect the NHS and EU staff recruitment and retention.

In a separate meeting, Darren also met with Julia Ross, Chief Executive of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG. Julia and Darren discussed the planned merger of the three CCG’s and the impact of budget cuts on the range of treatments constituents can access. Darren expressed his pleasure at the CCG’s decision (announced on 9th November) to scrap plans to reduce the upper age limit on which women can access one NHS-funded cycle of IVF. A decision from the CCG on proposed changes to access to post-cancer breast reconstructive surgery is still outstanding. On 15th September , Darren wrote to the CCG expressing his concerns about both proposals and their disproportionate impact on women.

 

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Darren asks about post Brexit NHS staffing crisis

Darren asked:

What steps the Secretary of State for Health is taking to ensure that non-UK NHS staff do not leave the NHS when the UK leaves the EU.

 

Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State for Health, replied:

The Department values highly the enormous contribution made by all staff working across the health and care sectors, including those from other European countries and elsewhere in the world.

We continue to monitor closely the overall staffing levels across the National Health Service and social care. We are also working across Government to ensure there will continue to be a sufficient number of staff to deliver the high quality services on which patients rely following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

My Rt. hon. Friend the Prime Minister has been very clear that EU citizens living lawfully in the UK at the point when the UK leaves the EU will be allowed to stay.

It is disappointing to hear that the government is taking no specific steps in this regard.

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MP visits Henbury charity supporting people with disabilities

SeeAbility, a national charity that works with people with learning disabilities and autism many of whom will have sight loss, invited Bristol North West’s new MP, Darren Jones, to visit its Bristol Support Service on Saturday 4th November.

Darren heard from people who use the service how living with sight loss and other disabilities affects their day-to-day lives, and from support staff about their support for people to build up their confidence and independence so they can actively participate in the community.

SeeAbililty offers specialist support on a round the clock basis and its Bristol Support Service has been operating for six years. The charity is one of the oldest disability charities in the UK and has pioneered specialist support for over 200 years.

Darren also learnt more about the work the charity does nationally to improve access to sight tests for people with learning disabilities, who are ten times more likely to have problems with their eyesight but may not be able to tell anyone they have a problem with their vision or easily access a sight test.

Darren said:

“It was fantastic to talk to people who live at the service, and learn more from about the way they have fought to overcome barriers in their way in order to live more independent lives.

And the message about the importance of regular sight tests for people with learning disabilities is one I can take back and highlight in parliament.”

Mason Carr, the registered manager of the service said:

“The people we support overcome huge barriers to achieve exciting new things every day: some big, some small, all extraordinary.

We are very keen to hear from anyone in and around the community who might want to work with us, as we have vacancies for a range of rewarding and exciting roles and we offer full training.

There are many opportunities to learn new skills and really make a difference to people’s lives.

We are a really close team and proud of what we help people with disabilities achieve and we hope Darren’s visit will encourage people to find out more about our charity.”

 

 

 

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Darren speaks to LabourTube about Brexit, the NHS, how Labour can win back the working class and tech issues

Watch the full interview here:

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Darren has flu jab and says stay well this winter!

It’s been another busy weekend in the constituency for Bristol North West MP Darren Jones. As his first appointment on Saturday, Darren met with the team at Kellaway Pharmacy in Westbury Park. Darren chatted to staff and customers about their views on healthcare and also had his annual flu jab.
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Darren asks the Home Office about the Emergency Services Network

The Emergency Services Network is the special telecoms network on which Emergency Services communicate. Its update’s roll out is being delayed, resulting in cost to the public purse because of the extra cost of continuing to use the old system.

Darren asked:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions have taken place between key stakeholders in and suppliers for the roll-out of the EmergencyService Network on changes to the timetable for the implementation of that roll-out; and if she will make a statement.

Nick Hurd MP, Minister of State at the Home Department, replied:

The new Emergency Services Network (ESN) will provide the dedicated teams who work so hard protecting the public and saving lives with the most advanced communications system of its kind anywhere in the world. ESN will be a more capable, more flexible and more affordable communications network than the existing Airwave mobile radio system used by the three emergency services in England, Scotland and Wales. While still delivering mission critical voice communication, it will also provide broadband data services.

The timelines for ESN are ambitious and this is because we want to give the emergency services the benefits of the latest technology as soon as practicable. However the Government is clear that public safety is our priority and the emergency services will only transition when they are content with the new ESN service, as the existing Airwave system will continue until transition on to the ESN is completed.

A formal arrangement has been agreed between the Programme’s sponsors (including the Home Office) of the police, fire and rescue, ambulance services of Great Britain, for how any Airwave extension costs beyond the planned National Shutdown Date (31 December 2019) should be shared between themselves.

We are working closely with our key stakeholders and suppliers on a revised plan for delivering ESN. We will have greater clarity on timescales at the end of the year.

Darren also asked:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions have taken place between key stakeholders in and suppliers for the roll-out of the EmergencyService Network on changes to the timetable for the implementation of that roll-out; and if she will make a statement.

Nick Hurd MP, Minister of State at the Home Department, replied:

The costs of upgrading to the Emergency Services Network and the costs to extend Airwave contracts for the emergency services are available in the public domain at:

https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Upgrading-emergency-service-communications-the-Emergency-services-Network.pdf and

https://www.london.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/b15926/Minutes%20-%20Appendix%201%20-%20Transcript%20of%20Item%205%20Tuesday%2018-Jul-2017%2010.00%20GLA%20Oversight%20Committee.pdf?T=9

Any delay in rollout impacts the date by when the savings from ESN will start to be realised. These savings will represent 50% of the cost of Airwave. The cost of delay is therefore the opportunity cost of not being able to realise the cost savings of ESN sooner.

Up to the end of 2016/17, the Programme has already delivered £77m of cash releasing benefits on existing Airwave contracts. These are benefits that would not have been obtained under the previous contractual agreements.

 

 

 

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Darren says ‘Stay well this winter’

Winter brings with it a number of challenges for all of us, but particularly the increased risk of illness as temperatures drop.

Getting the flu can be bad enough for even the fittest of us, but for older people and those with long-term conditions in particular it can cause serious health problems. The Chief Medical Officer warned this week that flu and complications associated with it – such as pneumonia – cause 8,000 deaths on average a year in England – around 6,000 of which are people with existing heart and lung conditions. This is not to mention the hundreds of A&E trips to Southmead Hospital, GP appointments and emergency admissions that our local NHS sees every year over winter – official figures show that flu and pneumonia account for 2.9m bed days in English hospitals.

The strain, and therefore strength, of flu changes every year, so even if you’ve had vaccinations in previous years these won’t offer protection. And if the experience in Australia and New Zealand is anything to go by, this winter could see a much stronger strain than in recent years.
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Darren raises the issue of mental and physical health equality

Darren Jones MP, Member of Parliament for Bristol North West, has challenged the Department of Health on the vital topic of mental health, which is often overlooked compared to physical health.

He asked the Department:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, when the Government plans for funding relative to burden of disease to reach parity across mental and physical health?

Jackie Doyle-Price MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, replied by saying that:

NHS England’s ‘Standard for Mental Health Investment’ requires the local National Health Service to increase mental health investment by the same proportion as overall allocations. This is planned to be met across England as a whole in 2017/18 and 2018/19.

It is for clinical commissioning groups to make decisions on spending priorities to best meet the health needs of their local population based on evidence based health assessments.

We were the first Government to place mental and physical health on an equal footing in law. Parity of esteem is the principle by which mental health must be given equal priority to physical health. It was enshrined in law by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

But in reality, mental health funding is still far short of of where that of physical health is.  According to the Kings’ Fund, ‘Mental health problems account for 23 per cent of the burden of disease in the United Kingdom, but spending on mental health services consumes only 11 per cent of the NHS budget’.

 

 

Darren signs letter calling for protection of Mental Health funding

Darren said that he was ‘happy to support this important letter from Luciana [Berger MP] to the Government on eve of World Mental Health Day’. You can view the letter here:

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