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Portsmouth MP pleads with constituents to respect restrictions

Responding to recent concerns from constituents about anti-social behaviour and people not following social distancing guidance on Southsea Common, the Hotwalls and in parks across the constituency, ahead of the Bank Holiday Stephen Morgan MP has written an open letter to all residents urging continued ‘respect for the lockdown restrictions’.

In the personal letter, published on all social media platforms on Saturday morning, the city MP pleads with constituents by saying:

“As we approach another sunny Bank Holiday, we must redouble these efforts. If we fall at the last hurdle, we could face months more social distancing measures and run the risk of harm to our loved ones”. 

A copy of the letter can be found below:

Open letter

 

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“It falls on all our shoulders to help people through the front door” says Portsmouth MP encouraging men to access mental health support

During Mental Health Awareness Week, city MP Stephen Morgan joined local mental health providers and service users to discuss ways to encourage men to access mental health support.

Welcoming efforts by Solent NHS Trust to bring services and people together to raise awareness and help co-ordinate local provision, Stephen Morgan MP listened to practitioners and service users in a zoom conference call.

On the challenges men face as a result of Covid-19, the city MP said:

“I share the concerns of the Mens’ Health Forum on the impact of Covid-19 on the physical and mental wellbeing of men and the risks of a spike in addictive behaviours and suicide.

With restrictions on being able to go outside, not seeing loved ones and anxiety about family and friends getting coronavirus, 60% of adults are reporting that their mental health has got worse during lockdown and over a third describe their mental health as currently poor or very poor”.

Mahdi Ghomi, Clinical Director and Consultant Psychologist at Solent NHS Trust, said:

“We are delighted to have hosted our first ‘Men & Mental Health’ Zoom chat and grateful to our guests, including Stephen Morgan MP, for their very positive engagement.

Men are historically under-represented in mental health services and yet are sadly at a greater risk of dying from suicide attempts. The NHS is here to help men in our communities to have a voice and feel enabled to access the mental health support they deserve.”

Mental health charity MIND are calling on the Government to take a number of steps to prioritise mental wellbeing during this public health emergency.

Their demands include ensuring the continued availability of mental health services; ensuring people with mental health problems detained under the Mental Health Act can be treated in a safe environment, have their rights protected, and have access to support to help them recover; prioritising support for young people’s mental health and wellbeing as part of plans for re-opening schools; and ensuring urgent investment in the mental health workforce and estate to support mental health services to deal with additional demand from the coronavirus crisis.

These demands have been acknowledged by Stephen Morgan MP and continue to inform his ongoing work on the availability of mental health support and as a champion for investment in these services.

Recognising the work of local service providers and charities supporting men with their mental health, Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Not just in Mental Health Awareness Week I want to shine a spotlight on the important work of Solent NHS Trust, Solent Mind and charities and local groups across our communities who are working tirelessly to ensure the continued availability of mental health services.

The zoom call acted as a reminder that it falls on all our shoulders to help get people through the front door to seek mental health support.

I will continue to work with others to put support for people with mental health problems, and for our nation’s mental health, at the heart of their coronavirus response and the country’s recovery plan”.

 

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“More questions than answers” city MP reacts to PM’s statement

In an address to the nation, the Prime Minister tonight said there was “no immediate end to the lockdown” but made a number of changes to the current rules affecting a variety of businesses and impacting on peoples’ lives.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement today Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP raised concerns over the lack of clarity over the Government’s plans.

The city MP said:

“The Government’s priority must be protecting the public’s health and saving lives. That is why I supported the lockdown in the first place and again support the restrictions staying in place at this time.

Sadly tonight’s statement from the Government lacks detail causing confusion for our communities and for our businesses.

When we need maximum clarity, the Prime Minister has decided to go it alone on messaging, whilst his Ministers toured the TV studios making things worse. This exposes a serious lack of coordination from Government, when the message to the public must remain clear and simple.

Portsmouth people told me they wanted a clear plan today. Instead all we got was more questions than answers from this Government”.

Labour has set out seven core principles that it is urging the Government to adopt to ensure public services, businesses and people are supported and kept safe.

Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Labour Party, added:

“This statement raises more questions than it answers, and we see the prospect of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland pulling in different directions.

The Prime Minister appears to be effectively telling millions of people to go back to work without a clear plan for safety or clear guidance as to how to get there without using public transport.

What the country wanted tonight was clarity and consensus, but we haven’t got either of those.”

 

 

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Portsmouth MP responds to news Britain has highest Covid-19 deaths in Europe

News broke yesterday that the UK has the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe prompting further scrutiny about the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, whilst tragically social care deaths continue to rise and testing remains below the Government’s target and way behind other countries.

With this in mind, city MP Stephen Morgan has today called on government to adhere to seven core principles set out by the Leader of the Opposition to ensure public safety.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I have made it clear I want to work constructively with government when it comes to handling the coronavirus crisis, but the latest information about extent tragic deaths shows serious mistakes were made at the onset of this pandemic.

The government was slow to implement the lockdown, slow on testing and slow to get PPE to frontline workers. We need to learn from those failings. It is vital that government is properly planning for what happens next and putting measures in place to support our NHS and social care services.

That is why I am joining others in calling on the Prime Minister to adhere to seven core principles that work to ensure public services, businesses and people are supported and kept safe.”

There have now been over 30,000 deaths recorded across the UK, making the country the worst affected in Europe. Even more worryingly, the University of Cambridge has said reported figures are “substantial underestimates” of the true number who have died with the virus.

Already, thousands of people have signed a petition calling for an inquiry including Dr Claudia Paoloni, president of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists. While the British Medical Association council chair, said the figures were extremely concerning “given that the UK was originally affected by the outbreak later than many other nations”.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“The way government handles the exit strategy will shape Britain’s road to recovery. People’s lives will depend on it. It needs to be a carefully measured plan that considers mistakes made and lessons learnt.

Over the coming days and weeks, Labour will work constructively with the government on the 7-point proposals to ensure the country has the best possible response to this crisis.

I want to support the Government to get this right and that is why we need a national consensus on what happens next”.

Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer MP added:

“Our priority is protecting the public’s health and saving lives. That is why we supported the lockdown and again support the restrictions staying in place at this time. However, we need to be honest with the public about the challenges ahead.

We are in this for the long haul. It is imperative that the Government is properly planning for what happens next and properly supporting our NHS and social care services”.

For more detail about the seven principles click here

 

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Covid-19: City MP says we must prioritise mental health too

Data is showing over 4 in 5 adults are worried about the effect coronavirus (Cocid-19) is having on their life right now. More than half are saying it is effecting their wellbeing and nearly half are reporting high levels of anxiety.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has therefore today taken action to ensure the mental wellbeing of constituents is prioritised during the coronavirus crisis and is calling on government to do more to protect those working on the frontline.

Welcoming efforts by Solent NHS Trust to bring local services together, the MP has committed to working with local providers to help people with their mental health as services continue to respond to the crisis and at the same time make plans for our communities’ recovery.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Everyone in the country has been affected by Covid-19 in some way, be it through staying at home and being separated from friends and family, uncertainty about work or education, or knowing someone with the virus.

There is no disputing, this crisis is having an undeniable impact on all of our health and wellbeing. The threat of physical illness to all of us is clear and obvious. However, the financial and social impact is also significant. This is particularly the case for our deprived communities and most vulnerable in society.

When people are locked down in their home, and away from friends and family, there is a greater risk of a rise in domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, self-harm and depression. It is only right, then, that we give equal importance and priority to protecting people’s mental health at this time of crisis”.

Mr Morgan has discussed with Solent NHS Trust senior representatives their proposals to work with other key providers to help better educate the public of signs and symptoms of mental health difficulties and promote tools and methods to better manage mood, anxiety and trauma.

An alliance is being formed to ensure rapid and easy access to emotional support through dedicated helplines and online community wide support services, which has the backing of the Portsmouth South representative.

Today’s actions follow The Institute for Public Policy Research’s Care Fit for Carers new report which has revealed the ‘catastrophic’ toll of dealing with Covid-19 on the mental health of frontline staff.

On the findings, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Parallel to the physiological effects of the virus are the impacts that dealing with it will have on the mental health of both the general public and frontline staff.

Frontline staff are having to deal with increased fatalities, more pressurised conditions and the risk of infecting their own families. The general public are having to deal with unprecedentedly low human interaction, confinement and in some cases domestic abuse and financial difficulty.

The Government has a duty to offer mental health support to frontline workers as well as introducing PTSD services. Action must also be taken to ensure that mental health provision is properly resourced and equipped for dealing with the mental health element of this pandemic.

I will continue to work with health providers and local charities to protect the mental wellbeing of those working on the frontline to keep us safe, and all those in need of help and support”.

The report, published today, provides new evidence on the experience of the healthcare workforce during Covid-19 to date from IPPR/YouGov polling of healthcare workers and the general public.

It shows that without further bold action in the days, weeks and months to come by the UK government and NHS England the country’s healthcare workforce will face significant health, mental health and welfare challenges.

 

 

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“We must see a strategy for getting Britain on the road to recovery” says city MP joining calls for Covid-19 recovery plan

Stephen Morgan MP has doubled down on the Labour leader’s calls for government to issue a plan for getting Britain on the path to recovery.

Citing a need for transparency around ongoing restrictions and for British people to have a sense of what comes next, Mr Morgan has urged government to publish their strategy for coming out of lockdown.

Mr Morgan also joined frontbench colleagues in supporting an extension to the period of lockdown, which government is expected do shortly.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Millions of people have stuck to the lockdown rules and are acting in a community minded manner. This must continue. Government also has a responsibility to keep people informed and must be open about when restrictions are likely to end.

Our communities must be reassured that government is on top of producing an effective exit strategy from this crisis. Transparency is key not only to the wellbeing of the population but also to the development of plans and to garnering agreement over the best route out.

I will continue to constructively engage with government and apply scrutiny to their decision-making so that communities like Portsmouth are privy to transparent, frank political decision making and are well-prepared for when our country comes out of this crisis.”

Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer said:

“Plans need to be in place sooner rather than later. Science in the end can’t tell you what the political strategy is for coming out of lockdown, because that involves political decisions as well as scientific decisions.

If we can get a consensus that this is the right strategy going forward, I think that will give trust to the public as well.”

Keir Starmer has made calls on Dominic Raab MP to commit to laying out the criteria the government will use to inform how and when it intends to ease the lockdown. He has also urged him to publish the exit strategy as a matter of urgency.

 

 

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City MP praises work of care providers during Covid-19 and consults over concerns

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has written out to over fifty care providers and residential homes to thank staff for their tireless efforts for our city and asking workers to keep him informed over PPE shortages

The latest action follows a series of steps to put pressure on Government to take urgent action to address the supply of personal protective equipment in the social care sector and pushing for regular testing for those working on the frontline.

The MP has lobbied the Health Secretary, submitted urgent parliamentary questions as well as written to the Prime Minister directly calling for greater measures to help NHS and social care services succeed in keeping people safe and well.

Writing to staff teams in over fifty care settings, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Thank you and all your staff who are contributing such vital care for residents during this public health emergency.

During this crisis many of your staff will have family responsibilities and personal caring duties on top of their work responsibilities. 

On behalf of our whole community I would like to convey our thanks and admiration for the selfless work they continue to do”.

Ensuring local providers have a good supply of the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is a top priority for the city MP who is liaising with the city council, local resilience forum and Government departments over concerns.

Looking ahead to when the country recovers from the coronavirus crisis, the MP hopes lessons will be learnt in recognising the efforts of those working on the frontline. He added:

“I trust that when this pandemic has passed, society may recognise more clearly the interdependence we all have upon each other and show its appreciation to you and others on the frontline performing essential caring roles in more tangible ways”.

An online petition has been set up to show to Government the strength of feeling in Portsmouth for protecting staff on the frontline. To show your support for these efforts go to www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/covid-19/protecting-the-frontline/

 

 

 

 

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“Government has taken steps in the right direction but must go further” says City MP as he works with local domestic abuse campaigner

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan has worked with local activist Kirsty Mellor to bring government’s attention to the increase in domestic abuse amid this pandemic, while acknowledging the Home Secretary’s efforts so far.

The pair have issued a letter directly to the Home Secretary outlining what Covid-19 means for domestic abuse, the areas where improvement is needed in the current system, and to push for more detail on how the government plans to address the issue.

The letter follows news that The National Domestic Abuse Helpline has recorded a 25% increase in cases, while visits to the website have increased by 150%. And Women’s Aid has recorded a 41% spike in traffic.

Mr Morgan said:

“The UK’s biggest domestic abuse charities have issued chilling warnings over concerns on the risk of increased incidences across the nation.

Government has taken a step in the right direction in acknowledging the danger and in issuing new guidance, which was welcome. However, we need to see detailed planning on how government will fund, resource and support domestic abuse services amidst this pandemic.

This is a matter of life and death for women and men across our country. That is why, alongside Kirsty Mellor, I am applying scrutiny to government’s decision making on this and pushing for further action. I remain committed to working constructively with Government to ensure the interests of those vulnerable to abuse are always put first.”

Since 2010, most councils in England, Wales and Scotland reduced funding for refuges, with cuts of nearly £7m over the past eight years. And the situation is getting worse: an estimated 21,084 referrals to all refuges in England were refused in 2017-18 because there was insufficient funding or no space for the victim.

Local campaigner, Kirsty Mellor said:

“Domestic abuse is a stain on our society. Prior to this pandemic case numbers were rising while refuge numbers were dwindling.

Action was needed before, now there are increased pressures, a radical strategy is necessary to avoid an unprecedented domestic abuse crisis.

While the government is acknowledging the problem, it must do more. I hope we can all work together to come up with viable solutions for the good of our community.”

The newly appointed Shadow Home Secretary also undertook decisive action by putting pressure on his government opposite number by calling for increased funding, more refuge space and an urgent review of current practices.

Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas Symonds MP in his letter said:

“I am writing to ask you to work with colleagues across government to urgently bring forward a package of emergency bespoke financial support for the organisations who are doing vital frontline work to ensure that they can provide a crucial safety net to some of the most at risk women, children and communities throughout this crisis.”

Information about domestic abuse services locally can be found here: https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/environmental-health/crime-and-nuisance/domestic-abuse

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City MP calls on government to keep ban on asbestos post Brexit transition period and to protect Health and Safety Executive resources

Stephen Morgan MP is calling on the government to make a firm commitment to maintaining the ban on asbestos  after the Brexit transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020 and as the UK negotiates trade deals with other countries.

The MP for Portsmouth South is also asking the government to rule out any further cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which is responsible for enforcing compliance with asbestos-related health and safety legislation. The agency received around £100 million less from the DWP in 2019-20 than it did in 2009-10 and saw its number of inspectors reduced by 25% between 2010 and 2016.

In October 2019, the HSE, which sits under the Department for Work and Pensions, reported that there are currently over 5,000 asbestos-related disease deaths per year in the UK, although this is expected to decline over the next decade and beyond.

While the government has committed in recent weeks to maintaining a “high level of protection of human health and the environment” post-Brexit, there has been widespread concern among campaign groups that this may change in the future, particularly when the UK comes to negotiate trade deals with other countries including the USA where regulations allow use of products containing asbestos – such as certain car parts like clutches and brakes, building materials like roofing felt, tiles and cement products, heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings.

It was also reported earlier month that, in 2019 the US Food and Drug Administration confirmed that asbestos had been found in several cosmetic products, including make-up marketed at children, prompting campaigners to warn that a UK trade deal with the US could see the relaxation of stringent laws prohibiting the use of dangerous ingredients in imported cosmetics.    

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The significant damage that asbestos-related diseases can do and the devastation they can cause to individuals and families is all too clear.

We should not be lowering standards once we come to do trade deals with other countries that don’t have the same restrictions on asbestos that we do in the UK.

It is vital that the ban on the manufacture and supply of all asbestos products in the UK is kept in place.”

Margaret Greenwood MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“I am concerned that any reduction in standards as a result of trade deals could put more lives at risk from asbestos-related conditions and increase cost to the DWP in social security payments and also through the work of the HSE.

Promises the government has made with regard to asbestos have to be kept firmly in mind when it is negotiating trade deals with countries whose asbestos regulations are not as stringent as the UK’s.

Labour is calling on the government to maintain the ban on asbestos.”

 

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Portsmouth MP writes to PM urging urgent action to protect the ‘frontline’

Listening to concerns over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the need for regular testing for NHS and social care staff, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has tonight called on the Prime Minister to take urgent action.

The latest lobbying follows raising parliamentary questions to Ministers, writing to the Health Secretary last week and liaising with local care providers.

The escalation of the action comes after the MP has increasingly heard from social care workers, some of the city’s doctors and nurses, and growing numbers of worried constituents. 

Across the country the inadequate provision of PPE equipment has been hitting the headlines following deliveries this week, and the need for clear guidance around Covid-19 testing for staff to avoid high levels of staff in self-isolation.

Writing to the Prime Minister ahead of tonight’s clap for carers, Stephen Morgan MP wrote:

“NHS staff, social care workers, health associations, trade unions, media outlets and my own constituents, have all raised concerns over the lack of personal protection equipment (PPE). From supermarket workers to doctors, those delivering for our nation on the frontline are being forced to work without adequate protective equipment amidst this pandemic.

Across our country people are stepping up and putting themselves at risk for the good of the nation.  Yet as my city and our country pause to clap for our carers again tonight, government continues to fail to address these injustices affecting those working tirelessly to save lives.

I therefore urge you to take urgent action to protect all frontline workers across social care, the NHS, local government, supermarkets and all other relevant sectors.

If we are all in this together, I urge you Prime Minister, to act and urgently protect frontline workers. It is what the people of Portsmouth, and across our nation, expect of you”.

The latest action has been taken alongside launching an online petition for people to show their support for protecting frontline workers.

Launching the Portsmouth petition the city MP said:

“Ministers have talked for weeks of ‘ramping up testing’ and delivering personal protective equipment across the UK, particularly for those working on the frontline in the NHS and social care, but there is little evidence that this is happening in practice.

A distressing number of staff in our NHS and care sector are still being forced to self-isolate because they cannot access testing. We need an urgent and co-ordinated plan for the sector now.

No more promises, no more excuses. It is time for the Government to protect the frontline with more testing needed now”.

The Portsmouth South representative is backing efforts by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire Service calling for donations of personal protection equipment, and efforts locally by organisations creating supplies for the NHS and social care.

The MP is calling on the government to have a clear and co-ordinated plan to deal with supply and testing issues urgently.

You can show your support for this call by signing the petition at: www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/covid-19/protecting-the-frontline/