Launch of the Coalition for Global Prosperity

Launch of the Coalition for Global Prosperity

As part of my work on the International Development Select Committee, I was delighted to attend the launch of the Coalition for Global Prosperity (CPG).

The Coalition for Global Prosperity brings together political, military, business and faith leaders who believe that an effective development budget, alongside an active diplomatic and defence strategy, keeps Britain at the forefront of saving lives, alleviating poverty and bringing freedom, security and prosperity to those who need it most.

I enjoyed hearing more about the Coalition’s work and listening to addresses from Rt Hon David Cameron, UK Prime Minister 2010-2016, Penny Mordaunt MP, Secretary of State for International Development, Major General James Cowan, CEO of the HALO Trust and former major general, Becky Platt, NHS nurse and member of the UK Emergency Medical Team, Simon Bishop, Chair of the Coalition for Global Prosperity and Theo Clarke, Chief Executive of the Coalition for Global Prosperity.

I believe Britain is a force for good in the world, and UK Aid is a big part of that. Like the CPG, I believe UK Aid makes Britain, and indeed the wider world, safer, healthier and better off.

Find out more about their work here.

Supporting Carers Week 2018

Supporting Carers Week 2018

I attended a Carers Week speed networking event with carers and charities in Westminster, pledging my support to unpaid carers locally.

The event was in support of Carers Week, to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the 6.5 million people across the UK who currently provide care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or who needs extra help as they grow older.

It matched up MPs and carers to share experiences of caring and the support they need to take care of their own mental and physical health and well-being.

Eight national charities have come together to call for urgent support for unpaid carers to be Healthy and Connected as new research released at the start of Carers Week reveals the toll that caring can take on many carers’ own health and wellbeing.

I was delighted to be able to show my support for the carers in my constituency at the Carers Week event and I pledge to support the 8,801 carers in Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park through my work in Parliament. Unpaid carers make a huge contribution to our society, providing vital and often hidden support to friends and family members, and it is right that we value them and ensure they have the right support at the right time. I look forward to working with the Carers Week charities, and, with unpaid carers, locally, to make a difference to their lives.

Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK, on behalf of Carers Week, said: “Without the unpaid care provided every year by family and friends, our health and care services would collapse. Yet, caring for a loved one too often means carers neglect their own mental and physical health.Finding the time and space to be healthy, get enough sleep and maintain relationships with others are all huge challenges identified by carers. By working together during Carers Week we have a huge opportunity to make our communities more Carer Friendly and make a difference to those who contribute so much.”

Carers Week 2018 is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, MS Society and Which? Elderly Care and kindly supported by Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition.

For further information visit www.carersweek.org.

Launch of the ‘Red Bag’ Scheme

Launch of the ‘Red Bag’ Scheme

I was delighted to attend the parliamentary launch of the ‘red bag’ scheme.

The Hospital Transfer pathway, often known as ‘Red bag’ is a simple initiative that is helping to improve communication between care homes and hospitals at all points of the resident’s journey. It keeps important information about a care home resident’s health in one place, easily accessible to ambulance and hospital staff. This facilitates a smoother and more efficient handover between care home, ambulance and hospital staff, and reduces unnecessary delays in the patient journey.

I am also so proud that Sutton has had a leading role in inspiring this to come about.

In 2015, the Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, the Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local care homes in Sutton got together to form the Sutton Vanguard.

Shortly after, they came up with the ‘red bag’ to allow patients to have all their medical notes, clothes, etc, in one place to help get vulnerable and elderly people the treatment they need and get them home as soon as possible.

Three years later and the Minister of State for Care, Caroline Dinenage MP, has launched it in Parliament to promote this being implemented more widely across the country.

We should all be so proud that this excellent initiative started here in Sutton and means more people can get home from hospital sooner.

HGVs Update

HGVs Update

I was pleased to meet with officers from Sutton Council and Transport for London (TfL) on Gander Green Lane to look at the ongoing problem of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs).

This is an issue that I have been working on since before I was first elected in 2015. A link road between the A24 and A217 was planned many years ago to allow traffic to flow without causing disturbance to residents, particularly on Gander Green Lane. However, with subsequent development, this is now seemingly impossible.

Therefore, I have been working to get HGVs trying to access the Kimpton Industrial Estate off of Gander Green Lane. A report was commissioned in 2016, which agreed that this was an issue and pointed particularly to the issue of the signage on Gander Green Lane being a problem.

However, progress has been slow.

On 3rd May 2018, I was delighted that Jed Dwight, Param Nandha and Ryan Stoneman were elected as the Conservative councillors for Stonecot. They have been working on this issue with me and have also been raising this as a concern of local residents.

Last Friday I met with Councillor Jed Dwight and Councillor Ryan Stoneman, Chairman of KIPPA BID, Colin Newton, along with officials from Sutton Council and TfL, with our local Conservative London Assembly Member, Steve O’Connell, to push for action.

I was pleased to hear TfL and the Council agree that signage was an issue and to go away and look at how this can be improved.

I will keep local residents updated along with Councillors Jed Dwight, Param Nandha and Ryan Stoneman.

Challenging Train Timetable Chaos

Challenging Train Timetable Chaos

The timetable changes across the country’s rail network was always going to be a challenge, with every scheduled train being reviewed rather than just piecemeal changes. However this was made an impossible task causing more misery for commuters by the seeming lack of preparation for this mammoth job. I raised the issue with the Secretary of State for Transport in Parliament last week but also had a chance to sit down with a representative from GTR, the train operating company that runs both Southern and Thameslink.

It would seem from both my feedback and his data that Thameslink is the service that has been particularly affected by these changes. The long term benefits to our part of the network of the new timetable were a reduction in the time to turn trains around, splitting and attaching them, especially at East Croydon. Network Rail co-ordinate all the timetabling supplied by the various operators and give final approval to the National Planning Process with around 12 weeks to go, thus allowing the companies three months to prepare. For some reason this was delayed until only three weeks before the changes. This meant that some infrastructure was not completed, some changes to depots were not in place and crucially the drivers’ programmes could not be completed in time.

This programme is completed in three stages. Firstly, the operator would work out how many drivers were needed in each depot so as to minimise travelling times at the beginning and end of shifts. Sometimes two or three drivers were being transported on a single train. Of course, if that is delayed, that has a knock-on effect on each of the services meant to be led by the drivers stuck on the train. Secondly, the drivers would have their ‘diagrams’, their overall shift routes, again to ensure they were as efficient as possible. This would be ‘optimised’, reviewed closely six or seven times to make sure they haven’t missed anything and only then would the drivers receive route-specific training should it be required. It is a safety requirement as laid down by the unions that a driver can only drive on routes that they have specifically been trained on, to familiarise themselves with signals, junctions, hazards etc. This training is typically around six accompanied trips in each direction along each route.

In trying to run a full service and train drivers, this is doubling up on the resources required, taking trained drivers off their job to bring on others so the problems are likely to go on for quite some time. New drivers are coming on stream each week, with GTR giving priority to the drivers who are already some way along their training. Whereas in previous years, GTR have had a chronic shortage of drivers, they now just about have enough, but not with the right training for the reasons explained.

GTR have been cancelling a number of services the day before which is clearly inconvenient enough. However, they are still having to cancel up to 150 services on the day itself which is causing even more frustration. My worry is that with the emergency timetable not due to be stable until mid-July, the overall situation is unlikely to improve for some time to come. One of the worst situations that affects constituents in Sutton is the total cancellation of the Wimbledon loop trains at peak times. I’ve raised this issue forcefully because it just cannot be acceptable for people whose livelihoods are dependent on getting to work on time should be put out with few realistic alternatives. GTR carry out a ‘gap analysis’ to try to minimise such lengthy gaps without a service so I will continue to push to ensure that this very significant gap is filled quickly. Because of this analysis it is always helpful when people are raising the matter of trains with me to let me know which services in particular they are most affected by. I’ve been complaining to and about GTR for some years now but in order to get each part right in the short term, the more focused I can be, the more productive the complaint I hope.

I welcome the Glaister review into how the process became such a shambles. I cannot believe that no-one decided to postpone the changes until the operators were ready, whatever the original reasons for the delay in approval. However it’s not feasible to go back to the original timetables now as all of the other services around the country that are less or not affected by the situation would be dragged into the problem. But at least we will get some answers. However as a commuter myself, I think that most people are less interested in which bit of the industry is to blame and more interested in us concentrating on getting their train running on time. I will continue to work to that end.

Supporting survivors of acquired brain injury

Supporting survivors of acquired brain injury

I was pleased to attend a reception in Parliament for survivors of acquired brain injury (ABI).

Brain injury is a hidden epidemic in the UK affecting over 1 million people, so I went to talk with patients and carers and other interested parties about their experiences, particularly about the need for rehabilitation.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Acquired Brain Injury (APPG on ABI) brought together survivors of ABI and their MPs at a reception in the Palace of Westminster thanks to the United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF). UKABIF aims to promote better understanding of all aspects of ABI; to educate, inform and provide networking opportunities for professionals, service providers, planners and policy makers and to campaign for better services in the UK. UKABIF is a membership organisation and charity, established in 1998 by a coalition of organisations working in the field of ABI.

The aim of the event was to raise awareness of ABI and the need for improved neurorehabilitation services across the UK.

An ABI is any injury to the brain which has occurred following birth e.g. Traumatic Brain Injuries such as those caused by trauma (e.g. a blow to the head from a road traffic accident, fall or assault), and non-TBIs related to illness or medical conditions (e.g. encephalitis, meningitis, stroke, substance abuse, brain tumour and hypoxia).

The APPG on ABI was officially launched November 2017. The key objectives of the APPG on ABI are to:

  • Raise awareness of ABI and seek improvements in support and services for people directly affected by ABI and also their families and carers,
  • Provide a voice for those affected by ABI,
  • Be the main forum for ABI in Parliament, raising key issues across health, social care and welfare which all affect people living with ABI in the UK.