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Darren supports Cystic Fibrosis Trust’s campaign for Orkambi

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has shared his views on access to Orkambi for constituents with Cystic Fibrosis.

Darren said:

“ I sympathise profoundly with anyone affected by Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and I appreciate the strength of support for making Orkambi available on the NHS, this is demonstrated by an online petition signed by  113,000 people.

In July 2016, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) concluded in its final guidance that Orkambi “could not be considered a cost-effective use of NHS resources” and subsequently did not recommend the drug for use on the NHS. I share the disappointment that will have been felt by many at this decision.

I understand that access to the drug Orkambi can extend the lives of 50% of the 10,400 people in the UK who currently live with CF, with this drug already available in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Greece and the United States.

The Government has welcomed dialogue between the pharmaceutical company, Vertex, and NHS England to agree a deal that would make Orkambi available to NHS patients. I know that the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has been working hard in pushing Vertex to put forward a substantive proposal to NHS England.

Parliament will hold a debate on access to Orkambi for people with CF on 19 March 2018. I will follow the debate closely and keep in mind the points my constituents have raised. In the meantime, I believe it is the responsibility of Ministers to facilitate the end of the deadlock between Vertex and NHS England so that people can access this vital drug and see their lives transformed.

At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that pledged to tackle the growing problem of rationing of services and medicines across England. The manifesto also committed to ensuring that all NHS patients get fast access to the most effective new drugs and treatments, and to insist on value-for-money agreements with pharmaceutical companies”.

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7th March Science and Tech committee highlights

The subject for this session was the flu vaccination programme. The witnesses were Professor Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director, Public Health England, Professor Steve Powis, National Medical Director, NHS England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Andrew Pollard, Chair, Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, and Dr Sue Crossland, President Elect, Society for Acute Medicine.

Watch highlights here:

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27th February Science and Technology Committee: E-Cigarettes

Darren asked a wide range of witnesses questions about how safe and healthy e-cigarettes (otherwise known as vaping devices) are.

The first set of witnesses was Dr Ian Jones, Vice President, Reduced-Risk Products, Japan Tobacco International, Dr Chris Proctor, Chief Scientific Officer, British American Tobacco, Dr Moira Gilchrist, Vice President, Scientific and Public Communications, Philip Morris Limited, and Dr Grant O’Connell, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, Fontem Ventures.

You can watch Darren’s questions to them below (pressing play on the videos will skip to where Darren speaks):

The second set of witnesses was Professor David Harrison, Chair of the UK Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, and Dr Lynne Dawkins, Associate Professor, Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research, London South Bank University.

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Darren welcomes plans to scrap privatisation of Southmead NHS staff

Darren Jones MP has welcomed the announcement from North Bristol NHS Trust to reconsider plans to transfer some  staff to a private management company.  The Trust had been assessing the feasibility of moving support staff management of positions, including cleaners, maintenance workers and caterers, to a private company. Under these plans, affected staff would have no longer been directly employed by the NHS and could have faced negative impact on their key terms and conditions such as pension, leave and sick pay.

Darren Jones MP said:

“I have been receiving regular updates from unions and campaign groups such as Protect Our NHS on this matter. I was incredibly concerned to hear about the initial plans. I’m pleased to hear that North Bristol NHS Trust has reconsidered their plans. Workers rights must be protected, as should the status of the NHS as a public institution.”

Darren has previously spoken of his concerns about the infiltration of private companies (including Carillion) into the NHS and the need to put public service before private profit. Darren backed moves for Carillion’s work to be taken ‘back in-house’ to the NHS.

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Darren supports Time to Talk campaign

Darren Jones MP will be showing his support for the national Time to Talk mental health campaign by attending a ‘Tea and Talk’ event at Henbury Library on 2nd February.

Darren Jones MP said:

“I will be supporting the annual Time to Talk campaign by joining a ‘Tea and Talk’ event taking place Henbury Library on Friday 2nd February.  Too often, it’s left to people with mental health problems to talk about mental health. It’s treated as a taboo subject – something to only be spoken about in quiet corners. Mental health affects us all, and everyone should feel able to talk about it.

Time to Talk helps us spread the word that wherever you are, any place can be the right space to talk about mental health! Too many people with mental health problems are still made to feel isolated, worthless and ashamed. Conversations have the power to change lives, wherever they take place. I’d encourage employers, schools and community groups to all get involved – together we can tackle the stigma of mental health”.

You can find out more about local events and the Time to Talk campaign here.

 

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Darren backs Alzheimer’s Society and becomes ‘Dementia Friend’

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has pledged his support to the Alzheimer’s Society by signing-up to become a Dementia Friend.

Darren Jones MP said:

” I am proud to have become a Dementia Friend. Dementia Friends are a crucial initiative of the Alzheimer’s Society and they’re aiming for 4 million friends by 2020.

I’ve seen and heard first-hand at constituent surgeries, as well as last Autumn’s Bristol Memory Walk, the crucial work the society do and the value it has to those individuals and families experiencing dementia.

I’ve pledged to raise awareness of the great work the society does, attend their events where possible and to keep a close eye on government and push for more support to those experiencing dementia”.

You can find out more about Dementia Friends and sign-up to become a friend online.

 

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MP backs Meningitis Now Campaign

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones has signed up to promote meningitis awareness and vaccination take-up with GPs, following a Parliamentary reception organised last week by charity Meningitis Now.

The charity is campaigning to increase the take-up of the lifesaving Men ACWY vaccine, which is available free to school leavers aged 17 to 18 and first-time university students up to the age of 25. Take-up is currently around 33% and 1.5million young people are at risk.

Darren said:

“ The low uptake of the Men ACWY vaccine is very worrying, especially as we move towards the peak season for bacterial meningitis. I’ll be writing to local GP practices to urge them to do more to promote awareness and encourage young people to have the vaccination.

It is vitally important that students protect themselves with the Men ACWY vaccine and learn the signs and symptoms of the disease. It only takes a few minutes and it could save theirs or their friend’s life.

You can find out more about the symptoms and signs to look out for here“.

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MP Responds to Minister’s visit to Southmead

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West shared his thoughts following a visit by Jeremy Hunt to his constituency:

“I welcome yesterday’s (23rd November) visit by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. I hope his visit has given him a true picture of the critical issues facing the NHS – we were promised £350m a week for the NHS if we voted for Brexit. Instead we get £350m for the whole of winter whilst the cost of Brexit spirals by another £3bn. Jeremy Hunt and this Conservative government need to start putting patients before Brexit party politics.

The staff at Southmead Hospital, and across the NHS, are working in increasingly difficult conditions – facing rising demand, complex medical needs alongside reducing real terms funding and resources. This is of course, in addition, to a pay cap that is undermining the value we place in these staff, an under-funded mental health system and social care services in crisis. Yesterday’s budget announced a £2.8 billion injection into the NHS over the next 2.5 years, this falls far short of the Chief Executive’s view that £4 billion was needed to stop rising wait lists and significant impact on patients. Of this funding, only £350 million will be available to help hospitals cope with the inevitable pressures over winter, a situation that last year was deemed a humanitarian crisis by the British Red Cross.

There is also the uncertainty of Brexit and its impact on the sense of job security that the NHS’ EU staff have. At least 615 of Southmead’s staff are from the EU, with 40% of these working as nurses. Evidence shows many EU nursing staff are weighing up their employment options and the number of EU nationals seeking nursing bursaries has plummeted by 2700 since last year. It is also only days since the BMA reported that one in 5 EU doctors have solid plans to leave the NHS. This situation is ludicrous and the Government can’t idly sit back waiting for the fall-out – the NHS needs strong management from Government and a funding package that matches the demand and real terms costs – if there is money for Brexit there must be money for our most treasured public service.

Each winter demand at A and E’s across the country rises and Southmead will be no different, given the minimal funding boost awarded yesterday by Government, I am very concerned we will once again see some of the most vulnerable in society waiting for hours and/or laid out on beds in corridors. This is of real concern to my constituency as the closest alternative hospital’s A and E department (in Weston-Super- Mare) is still closed due to unsafe staffing levels and will undoubtedly have some impact on Southmead.

I would also urge Mr Hunt to consider whether some of our most dedicated and hardworking public servants are being paid adequately for their work and if the 1% public sector pay cap can be morally justified any longer – I am quite clear it cannot be and government should not be waiting for an independent pay body to have to tell it so”.

 

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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”.