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Darren receives government response on sale of energy drinks to under 16s

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has received a formal response from the government regarding his letter on the sale and advertising of energy drinks to young people. 

As a member of the Science and Tech Committee, Darren has previously shared his concerns about the advertisement and marketing of energy drinks and health impacts on young people and urged for tighter restrictions on their sale.

Darren said:

“I recently shared my concerns with Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, about the sale and advertising of high-caffeine and sugar-filled energy drinks to children. You can see a copy of my original letter here.

I have now received a reply which outlines the results of the government’s consultation (which explored views on banning the sale of said drinks to young people) will be published later this year. I continue to call on the government to swiftly publish their findings and put a ban in place that protects young people from the effects of these cheap and widely-available drinks”.

 

 

 

 

 

Darren receives Government reply to Dementia letter

Earlier this year, Darren wrote to the Health Secretary to ask that he address Dementia within both the upcoming Social Care Green Paper and the NHS long-term plan. The Minister of State for Care has now replied to this letter.

Here is Darren’s original letter to the Health Secretary:

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Darren calls for investment in social care

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West has spoken our about the need for dramatic investment in social care funding following the release of the Coram Family and Childcare Older People’s Care Survey 2018. This is the third annual survey mapping the cost and availability of older people’s care across the UK.

Darren said:

“Anyone who needs social care or tries to put care in place for an older relative knows the current system is not fit for purpose. The government continues to dodge any real assessment of the social care crisis facing the UK’s ageing population, doesn’t fund council’s properly so they can adequately meet rising demand and has not ensured parity of importance between health and social care services.

I have met many constituents who have struggled to source adequate care and find the bureaucracy of the system significantly adds to levels of anxiety and stress. The Local Government Association is right to say the government just kick this issue ‘into the long grass’. I will continue to call on the government to fund council’s properly so they can meet the demand for social care services“.

The key findings of the survey in relation to the availability of older people’s care were:

•There is not enough care available for older people, with only one in five local authorities (20 per cent) reporting enough care in their area to meet demand.

•Over 4.3 million people aged 75 and over live in areas where there is not enough social care to meet demand.

•Some 34 per cent of local authorities expect the situation to get worse in the next year, while only 1 per cent expect it to get better. Bristol City Council has only recently flagged up how catastrophic a no-deal Brexit could be for social care across the city.

Key findings on the price of care were:

•The average weekly price paid by local authorities for all residential care types in the UK is £585. This represents a 5 per cent price rise since last year.

•UK averages show that individuals paying for their own care face prices which are 13 per cent more expensive than what the local authority pays for the same care. It takes less than 17 months for someone funding their own care to spend over £20,000.

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Darren backs Royal College of Nursing

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West has spoken about his continued support for nurses in higher education.

Darren said:

“I’m continuing to support the Royal College of Nursing‘s campaign calling on the government to put a minimum of £1bn back into nursing higher education.

Nursing students are unique. Their courses are longer than other degrees and, on top of their studies, they spend additional time on clinical placement working all hours of the day and night.

Many nursing students are struggling financially because they don’t have time to work to support themselves. It’s causing some students to quit their courses.

It’s no surprise then that since the changes to nursing degree funding in 2016, there are nearly 900 fewer nurses due to start at university.

The Government must fix this. It must look again at how it funds nursing higher education, including by putting a minimum of £1bn a year back into the system to support students.

There are already almost 41,000 nursing vacancies in England alone. Without action now this could rise to at least 48,000 in the next five years, because there won’t be enough newly qualified nurses to address this shortfall.

In a speech at the RCN on 31st October 2018 the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care acknowledged the significant gap in the nursing workforce and recognised action is needed. He said, “simply put: we need more (nurses). And that means more permanent nurses”. He also said that (nursing students) “must get the support they need to complete their training so they can serve in our NHS”. Yet the government have done nothing to change the current situation!

I continue to call upon the government to #FundOurFuture nurses”.

You can get involved, and support the campaign, here: https://www.rcn.org.uk/…/ca…/student-funding-fund-our-future  

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Darren to host surgery for local carers

Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, will be hosting a Carers-themed surgery with Carers Support Centre Bristol and South Gloucestershire on Friday 18th January.

Do you care for a friend, relative, family member or neighbour with an illness or disability? Do you need Darren’s support or would like to share your experiences so they inform Darren’s work in the future?

To meet with Darren you must live in Bristol North West. The Bristol North West constituency covers Avonmouth, Shirehampton, Lawrence Weston, Henbury, Brentry, Horfield, Lockleaze, Aurora Springs in Cheswick Village, Southmead, Sea Mills, Coombe Dingle, Sneyd Park, Stoke Bishop, Westbury-on-Trym, Westbury Park and Henleaze.

If you’re not sure if Darren is your MP, you can check here – If Darren is your MP and you’re a carer, come and meet him!

The surgery will take place on 18th January in Southmead between 10.30 and 12.30 with 6 pre-bookable appointments available.

If you would like to find out more or book a 15 minute slot, contact Caroline McAleese, Carers Engagement & Involvement Lead, Carers Support Centre on 0117 958 9989 or carolinem@carerssupportcentre.org.uk

“In the course of my work as Bristol North West’s MP I have met many carers, including those at Henleaze-based Singing for the Brain and at my weekly constituency surgeries. I’m well aware of the challenges carers face and the dire need for more support for them , that’s why I backed the Carers Support Centre ‘carers need care too’ campaign and am hosting this themed surgery. I look forward to meeting more local carers and doing what I can to help and support them”.

 

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Darren gets response on Migrant Impact Fund

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, wrote to the Chancellor in advance of the Autumn Budget calling for the  Migrant Impact Fund to be restored.

Darren has now received a response:

Darren Jones MP said:

“The £50m Migrant Impact Fund (although it now appears only £35million was awarded) was set-up several years ago in response to legitimate concerns that public services needed central funding to help support any unexpected pressure on local services such as housing, schools and hospitals. This was – and still is – common sense and the fund should have never been replaced with the much less effective Controlling Migration Fund which does not fund things such as additional pressures on healthcare. This change was ill-thought out so I am disappointed this response has repeated the same old explanations without actually considering the points my letter raised – namely, that this backwards step applies pressure to healthcare services who can ill afford it, only helps to fans the flames of prejudice. I continue to call for the Migrant Impact Fund to be restored”.

 

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Darren calls for parity for children’s mental health funding

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has commented on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services following release of a major new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England.

The report includes a detailed break-down of spending, waiting times and the number of children turned away for each area of England. This has enabled Darren to take a detailed look at provision in Bristol. Bristol CCG’s results show that between April 2017 and March 2018:

• 41% of children who are referred to NHS CAMHS services are not accepted for treatment. The Commissioner does not know what, if any, alternative support is available to these children.

• Of those who are accepted, 47% are seen within 4 weeks – this compares to 80% across England. 19% have to wait more than 6 weeks.

• Children’s mental health accounts for less than 1% of local NHS spending (0.99% locally). Per capita, adult mental health services are funded at three times the rate of children’s services. Bringing about parity of spending (per head) requires an additional £1.7bn to be invested in children’s mental health services nationally.

In response the Children’s Commissioner calls for the three commitments from NHS England to be included within the forthcoming NHS 10-yr Plan, I support:

1) A spending benchmark that brings parity between child and adult mental health, achieved within five years.

2) A large expansion of community mental health treatment to ensure that by 2023 the NHS is in a position to ensure no child who needs help is turned away. This should be combined with a clear four-week waiting times target.

3) A comprehensive plan for the NHS and local partners to provide lower-level children’s mental health services, to ensure easy access before conditions deteriorate. This should include an NHS-funded counsellor in every school.

Darren said:

“I will be meeting the CCG in the New Year and plan to raise these mattes for further discussion. I believe we can – and must – do better to ensure our young people get the support they need and deserve – the first step would be giving parity of funding per person to children and adolescent services as they do to adult mental health service. 41% of those referred for treatment do not receive it – that is genuinely concerning and must be fully investigated”.

 

 

 

 

 

Darren writes to Health Secretary on Dementia funding

The Government has an upcoming Green Paper on Social Care, which will include proposals on how to pay for caring for a growing elderly population. Given the Prime Minister’s previous proposal of a ‘Dementia Tax’, Darren wrote to the Health Secretary to ask that future funding is as fair as possible.

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Darren calls for ban on sale of energy drinks to under 16s

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has submitted a formal response to the government’s consultation on the use of energy drinks by young people.

To inform Darren’s views on this matter, he met students, parents and teaching staff at a Shirehampton school last week (16th Nov) to discuss the government’s consultation on energy drinks which includes options to ban the sale of said drinks to either those under 18 or all under 16’s.

As part of the Science and Tech Committee, Darren has previously shared his concerns about the advertisement and marketing of energy drinks and health impacts on young people and urged for tighter restrictions on their sale.

Darren also launched a constituency-wide survey to gather feedback on the government’s proposals. The survey showed 89% of respondents agreed with banning the sale of energy drinks to under 16’s. There was also overwhelming support (93%) for tighter regulation on the advertisement of energy drinks with 90% of constituents undertaking the survey feeling cigarette-style health warnings should be prominently displayed on packaging.

Darren said:

“The health of young people is of paramount importance and must not be overlooked. That’s why I have called on government to heed the advice of many experts, parents and those who work with young people to ban the sale of high-sugar, high-caffeine energy drinks to those under 16. I have also called on the government to ensure banning the sale of energy drinks to under 16’s extends beyond shops into cafes, restaurants, sports clubs, vending machines, education and healthcare settings – basically anywhere young people are. Such action would send a clear message that, regardless of age, energy drinks are not good for your health and they should be consumed with caution in line with other products that have age restrictions.

I strongly urge the government to swiftly progress a ban for under 16’s and also consider restricting the advertisement, and sponsorship activity, of energy drinks in line with other age-restricted products such as tobacco. Energy drinks should also be much more clearly labelled as harmful to health if consumed regularly so consumers of any age can make informed decisions”.

 

 

 

 

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Darren hosts school debate on energy drinks and social media use for Parliament Week

To celebrate Parliament Week 2018, Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, chaired a debate with students, parents and teaching staff at Oasis Brightstowe in Shirehampton on Friday 15th November.

As both the local MP and a member of the Science and Technology Committee, Darren Jones MP met students, parents and teaching staff at the Shirehampton school to discuss the government’s consultation on energy drinks which includes options to ban the sale of said drinks to either those under 18 or all under 16’s. The debate also included discussion on the impact of screen time and social media use on young people – a subject the committee has also investigated.

Darren has previously shared his concerns about the advertisement and marketing of energy drinks and health impacts on young people and urged for tighter restrictions on their sale.

Following the committee’s inquiry into energy drinks, Darren launched a constituency-wide survey to gather feedback on the government’s proposals. The survey showed 89% of respondents agreed with banning the sale of energy drinks to under 16’s, 80% believed only those over 18 should be allowed to purchase energy drinks. There was also overwhelming support (93%) for tighter regulation on the advertisement of energy drinks with 90% of constituents undertaking the survey feeling cigarette-style health warnings should be prominently displayed on packaging.

One anonymous constituent who works with children with SEN said “Children often miss meals, lose out on sleep (due to social media and gaming) and make poor dietary choices. Energy drinks have a massive impact on all children, but for those who are medicated for conditions such as ADHD it has a hugely detrimental effect. Although these drinks are banned in school, many children drink them on their way to school as they believe it will help them focus. This is especially true during exams.”

Darren said:

“  I would like to thank everyone who completed my survey on energy drinks and attended today’s debate at Oasis Brightstowe. Whilst I have my own views and experiences of energy drinks and social media use, it is vital I hear from a wide range of people, so I can best represent their views – especially those of young people themselves.

Prior to the government’s consultation, I called for a detailed investigation on the health impact of these sugary, caffeine-filled drinks and urged for closer regulation of their sale and advertising. It’s clear people in Bristol North West share my concerns as did the young people I spoke with today – I continue to urge the government to bring a bill before parliament that restricts the sale of these drinks to those under 16”.

Darren added

“We also discussed social media use and the impact of screen time – with some of the students saying they spend around three hours a day on their phone and with all of the students having a phone by aged 12 clearly impact of ‘prolonged phone time’ needs more investigation. Interestingly, all the students and parents were supportive of the school’s ban on phones throughout the day to help support learning and ensure the school was a cyber-bullying free space.

At committee meetings, I’ve asked experts what affect social media and screen use have on young people’s health and it’s clear whilst most experts agree there is an impact on concentration, body image and self-confidence, we don’t know enough and technology is continuing to outpace the government’s regulation of the sector. I will continue to seek greater funding for cyber-policing, research and enforcement of online regulation to ensure our young people and all our data is safe”.