Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, put in to speak in the Health and Care Bill on Wednesday 14 July but wasn’t called. Below is the speech that Sir David intended to give as he calls for the Government to fix the social care crisis, improve maternity services and tackle alcohol harm.
At a time dominated by health worries, introducing a robust and properly scrutinised Health and Care Bill is of the upmost importance. There is currently a backlog of over five million people waiting for treatment and increasing concerns of growing waiting times amongst the population and my constituents. Our NHS which we have depended on during the pandemic needs vital support to continue keeping us alive and healthy.
I am pleased that the Bill aims to amend the Communications Act 2003 to restrict advertising of certain unhealthy food and drink products. As Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Food and Health, I regularly engage with industry experts who have informed me how susceptible children are to advertising. We should not be promoting foods high in salt, sugar and fat. There is a diabetes and obesity crisis that needs fixing before it is too late.
However, this ban does not apply to alcohol and therefore the Bill needs to go further in reducing harm from alcohol. As Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Liver Health, I am urging the Government to stop exposing children to alcoholic drink adverts and ensure that we have high quality alcohol treatment and recovery services for those who need it. More people are dying from alcohol than ever before, and we need urgent Governmental funding to reduce harm.
Just like my colleagues, I am sure, I have stood here in this Chamber speaking about the social care crisis many times before. The problem still persists, and we need urgent social care reform. There should not be a disparity in fees charged by care homes for residents funded by the Council or those who are self-funded, people should not be concerned about losing their family home when paying for dementia care and there should be cross-party talks to ensure the social care crisis is fixed and that every older person has the dignity they deserve. Local care homes in Southend need more support. It is promising that the Bill amends the Health and Social Care Act 2008 to allow the Secretary of State to give financial assistance to adult social care providers. All Parties need to be involved in the discussion on how we will most efficiently pay for social care, however.
I am pleased that this Bill addresses the need for more effective sharing of information and data to deliver better social care. With the Care Quality Commissions assessing how local authorities deliver their adult social care functions, I trust there will be a strong, centralised enforcement from the Government ensuring a high minimum level of national care.
As Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Maternity, I was pleased to read the Health Select Committee’s report earlier this month on the safety of maternity services. I hope the Department will act on the Committee’s recommendations and improve maternity care before, during and after birthing. We currently have ‘inadequate’ ratings for aspects of continuity of carer, personalised care and safe staffing which need urgently addressing.
The committee’s findings should be acted on to support maternity services and staff to deliver safe care by hiring more specialised staff, making access to training more accessible and more funding. We also need to learn from patient safety incidents by involving the family and the staff in investigations, passing the findings of the investigations back to the head midwife and safety manager and commit to ensuring that mistakes whilst delivering babies will not happen again. Further, we have a duty to provide safe and personalised care for all mothers and babies by fully informing the mother of all the risks of different birthing and pain relief options, continuity of carer so mothers can get advice and treatment whilst pregnant, during birthing and after giving birth and eradicate disparities in received care due to skin colour, income, mental health etc.
Ultimately, this Bill needs to ensure that we employ more NHS staff, we protect our existing staff and that we never privatise the NHS. Our wonderful free health service has been a lifeline during the pandemic, and we should expand hospital bed capacity so it is well above pre-pandemic levels, but that cannot happen without addressing the staffing crisis. Nobody should be denied health care because of where they live, and we must guarantee that other medical issues apart from Coronavirus receive the attention they deserve. I hope to see the Department commit to making the NHS more efficient and ensuring personalised and effective care for all.