On Monday 22 February, Sir David Amess spoke in the general debate on Covid-19 where, amongst other things, he called for more support for the three million who have been excluded, more support for charities and churches and praised two local vaccination centres he visited recently.
Sir David Amess said:
I was delighted with today’s announcement by the Prime Minister. It gives us something to look forward to, if all goes well, on 21 June—and for selfish reasons because two of my daughters can have the sort of weddings that they would have wished for. However—there is always a “however”—I still have constituents who are self-employed, business owners or limited company directors that have not received financial support for close to a year now. I have signed a cross-party letter to the Chancellor urging him to support the 3 million who have been excluded. I hope he takes note of this letter and delivers in the Budget next week.
I despair that I recently received a response from the Department of Health and Social Care to an inquiry I had submitted in May last year, and one from the Department for Education that I raised in September last year. These Departments really must do better in answering letters. Many of my constituents have highlighted the difficulties they are experiencing with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council distributing the Government’s business support packages. I hope the Government will provide the necessary information, guidance and support to local councils to ensure that business grants are distributed quickly and fairly, because at the moment I do not know who is at fault.
I recently held surgeries for the wonderful local churches and charities in my constituency. The most common theme that was brought up with me was the loss of regular income streams. I urge the Government to look into what financial support can be given to these groups.
I was also very pleased to visit Highlands Surgery and Saxon Hall vaccination centres to see how the roll-out of the vaccine is happening in Southend. I was very impressed with how the centres were being run and the professionalism and dedication shown by Dr Alex Shaw and all the volunteers and staff. I was delighted to learn that the programme was going so well. I thank Mr Anthony McKeever and Tricia D’Orsi for organising those visits. I am, however, still receiving calls and emails from constituents confused about where and when they will receive their vaccinations. Many of them do not realise that they do not have to accept a vaccination at a centre miles away but can actually wait for a local appointment, so there really does need to be clearer communication on this very important issue.
In the fullness of time, of course, there will be an inquiry into what has gone on since the pandemic started, but I ask the Department of Health and Social Care to look very closely into how coronavirus deaths have been recorded. I have too many constituents saying that they believe their relatives died with coronavirus but did not die as a result of it, and frankly the deaths from influenza are puzzling.
I am very pleased with the Prime Minister’s announcement about care home residents being able to receive a named visitor, and I applaud everyone involved in this magnificent vaccine programme, which leads the world.