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Portsmouth MP calls on Government to act over city dental services

During Health and Social Care questions in the House of Commons today, Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan has raised the fact that thousands of his constituents are to be left without access to dental care.

It has emerged that dental practises in Southsea, Paulsgrove and Portsea will be closing their doors for the last time at the end of July following a decision made by the Swiss investment firm who owned the practices.

Mr Morgan has said:

“Raising this matter in the chamber is an opportunity to directly ask the Minister responsible what the Government plans to do to deal with these concerns. The prospect of anyone in Portsmouth having to go without healthcare is deeply concerning. 

NHS dentistry is in a recruitment and retention crisis, with 75% of NHS practices in England struggling to fill vacancies last year according to BDA research.

As the last in line for funding and low on the Government list of priorities, it is clear dental health is a Cinderella service, without the happy ending.

This latest evidence is evidence that its future can no longer be guaranteed”.

Only 49% of adults in Portsmouth accessed NHS dentistry in the last 2 years, with over 10,000 trying and failing to make an appointment. Only 56% of children in the city saw a dentist in the last year, even though dental care for under 18s is free and they should ideally have a check-up every 6 months. The closure of three dental practices in the city is likely to exacerbate these issues.

The Portsmouth MP said:

“Access to healthcare is a fundamental part of what it is to live in the UK. The fact that people will now have to travel long distances by car, ferry and bus is to reach these much-needed services is highly unacceptable.

It is not just those who have lost their practices who will be affected, the large influx of patients flocking to the remaining practices in the surrounding areas is likely to cause longer waiting times and more strain on services. The Government must do better.”

Mr Morgan’s action in Parliament today forms part of a comprehensive action plan to help safeguard the city’s dental practices.

Mr Morgan is organising a summit with NHS England to look at how the closures can be mitigated against, he has arranged a meeting with the Chair of the British Dental Association, has written to the Health Secretary and submitted a string of Parliamentary written questions to the department.

 

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MP calls NHS body to Parliament for urgent summit over city dental practice closures

Stephen Morgan MP has urgently called senior members of NHS England, the Government body responsible for assigning dental contracts in the area, to Parliament. 

As well as writing an urgent letter to the Secretary of State for Health and asking questions to the relevant Government department in Parliament, the Portsmouth South representative is hosting a summit following the news that three dental practices in Portsmouth are facing imminent closure. Cllr Cal Corkery, a fellow Labour councillor in the city, is also following up local concerns. 
The announcement comes as a result of a business decision made by Colosseum Dental, a company owned by a Swiss investment firm.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
“Not one, not two, but three surgeries are set to close in our city. When there are so many concerns around about oral health and access to local services, the consequences of this latest development will be detrimental to local residents. 
Portsmouth people shouldn’t have to travel long distances to receive vital treatment. I will not stand for this and take concerns being raised with me very seriously.
There has been a serious lack of communication from NHS England and Colosseum Dental. I find it deeply concerning that patients and local community leaders were not informed earlier in this process. The dissemination of information has been substandard, and I hope that frank, open discussions at the summit will rectify this.”
It has been reported that between 9,000 and 20,000 people will be affected by these imminent closures. Mr Morgan has already expressed concern that this may hit poor families hardest.
Stephen added:
“You might wonder if some had hoped no-one would notice three vital healthcare providers shutting their doors for the last time in our city. 
The time for complacency is over. I look forward to discussions with NHS England, the Health Secretary and others in order to safeguard dental services for the people of Portsmouth.”

Portsmouth MP joins our Armed Forces in Gibraltar

Stephen Morgan MP has exchanged the order paper for the barracks to visit Gibraltar to spend time with our service personnel stationed overseas

The official visit, timetabled during parliament’s holiday, is part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (AFPS) that seeks to give MPs of live in the armed forces and increase understanding of working in the services.
Following the visit, the Portsmouth South MP said:
Despite spending time with our armed forces personnel on so many occasions, I will never cease to be amazed by the dedication, tireless work ethic and positive attitude displayed by those who serve across all of our services.
Using holiday time, it was an excellent opportunity to meet people on the ground – some of which were constituents – to understand the important work they do for our nation and in respect of the role Britain plays in the world. You can’t beat listening to opportunities and challenges from those in the know firsthand. 
The strategic importance of Gibraltar cannot be underestimated and I am grateful to have also had the opportunity to meet with the Chief Minister of the Gibraltar Government and British Governor to discuss close working and future partnerships”.
The trip involved staying in service personnel accommodation, and specific time with each of the services.
This included with the Royal Navy for at-sea exercises, a visit to a US submarine to understand collaboration work with NATO and learn more about joint operations, and efforts to tackle smuggling and human trafficking. 
Mr Morgan also spent time with service families to hear about the vital work carried out to provide welfare support as well the issues that affect families when at home.
Mr Morgan added:
“Speaking to service people and their families is integral to understanding how we as a country can better support the people who serve our nation, and transition into civilian life.
I will continue to use the lessons I have learned, and feedback received, to inform work as a Portsmouth MP”.
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City MP asks Portsmouth people to pledge support to over-75s TV Licence campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has been taking action to stop the Government snatching free TV Licences for over-75s. With concerns over loneliness and social isolation constantly being raised, the city MP is now asking local people for support for his campaign

The BBC this week announced changes to the highly popular current scheme after the Government performed a u-turn on their manifesto pledge and decided to remove free TV licences from some over-75s.

In a move condemned by Age UK, the Labour Party and the trade unions associated with the BBC, the Government asked the BBC to review the scheme who have decided to initiate a system of means-testing that will see millions of elderly and vulnerable people face hardship.

Earlier this year the MP wrote to local pensioners understand the impact of any changes, met with the Portsmouth Pensioners Association to hear views, raised parliamentary questions, wrote to the Secretary of State responsible and met with Age UK to support their complementary ‘Switched Off’ campaign to keep the benefit for older people.

Despite these extensive efforts, the Government has not listened.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The decision taken to means-test TV Licences for over 75s, overseen by the Government, is unequivocally unjust and the principle that it will target those that can afford it is deeply flawed.

It is estimated that 1.3 million of society’s most vulnerable people over 75 do not claim pension credit because they are unable to fill in the forms, do not have access to the internet or are simply not able to. These people, who are already among society’s most in need, will now have their free TV licence seized from them.

It is not only morally corrupt that the Government is initiating the scrapping of free TV licences for 3 million older people, it also contradicts their own manifesto pledge.

I recently wrote out to Portsmouth pensioners to hear their views and concerns. The response I received was both overwhelming and moving.

I now urge all people in Portsmouth to back my efforts to urge the Government to think again, take back responsibility for this social policy, and keep the current popular scheme for our city’s pensioners”.

Examples of feedback from Portsmouth constituents as a result of the MP’s interventions include:

“I lost my wife in January and now I spend a lot of time alone. Having the TV on in the background is like having someone with me, I do not know what I would do without it.”

Southsea resident, aged 95

“I am 93 years old, for 33 of those years, I was in active service in the Army. TV is a means of company and I find the prospect of losing it very worrying”

Milton resident, aged 93

“At 87 years old, a widow crippled with arthritis, TV is a big part of my life and keeps me entertained and in touch whilst sitting knitting. I am one who needs it so much that I would have to find some way of finding the money for a licence by not spending so much on food. Please do what you can for us”.

Fratton resident, aged 87

To show your support for Stephen’s campaign for Portsmouth pensioners click here

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The call has been backed by Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK. She said:

“Make no mistake, if this scheme goes ahead we are going to see sick and disabled people in their eighties and nineties who are completely dependent on their cherished TV for companionship and news, forced to give it up. Means-testing may sound fair but in reality, it means at least 650,000 of our poorest pensioners facing a big new annual bill they simply can’t afford, because though eligible for Pension Credit they don’t actually get it.

The BBC’s decision will cause those affected enormous anxiety and distress, and some anger too, but in the end this is the Government’s fault, not the BBC’s, and it is open to a new Prime Minister to intervene and save the day for some of the most vulnerable older people in our society who will otherwise suffer a big blow to their pockets and to their quality of life.

The decent thing for the Government to do is to continue to fund the entitlement until the BBC’s overall funding deal comes up for negotiation in 2022. This would be warmly welcomed by our older population as a much fairer way to proceed.”

Head of BECTU, sector of Prospect that is the main trade union for BBC staff Philippa Childs added:

“BECTU has argued that free TV licence for over-75s is a welfare benefit and should be funded by the Government.

While the BBC’s decision will enable the most vulnerable pensioners to continue to receive a free TV licence it should never have been the BBC’s responsibility to solve this problem.

The BBC needs to be properly funded and supported as a public service broadcaster in order to thrive with globally competitive content and effective reach to its audiences.

It should not be made to choose who receives a welfare benefit simply because the Government has decided to pass the buck.”

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Government must do the honourable thing for Portsmouth pensioners and keep the free TV licence for over-75s says City MP

The BBC has announced that the TV licence concession for over-75s will be linked to Pension Credit.

This is a crucial campaign by local MP Stephen Morgan who is concerned that thousands of pensioners in Portsmouth will directly lose out as of next year.

Research from the House of Commons Library found that 3,037,950 households will lose their free TV licence as a result of linking the concession to Pension Credit. It is estimated that 1.3 million poorer over-75s are eligible for Pension Credit but do not claim the benefit.

Those in this situation will lose their free TV licences under a means tested system. It is also estimated that over 1.6 million pensioners living alone will lose their free licence in a means tested system.

Mr Morgan so far has written to 10,000 households likely to be affected by these changes, met with the senior members of Age UK to discuss the policy’s implications, asked questions in Parliament, met with Portsmouth Pensioners Association, written to the Minister responsible and gathered vital data from constituents on their key concerns.

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Responding after speaking up and raising concerns with the Government in the House of Commons today, the Portsmouth South MP said:

“This is another ruthless welfare cut for the most vulnerable in our city.

It’s appalling that this Tory Government is trying to offload responsibility for funding free TV licences onto the BBC.

The Government must do the honourable thing for Portsmouth pensioners and stand by its manifesto commitment they made at the last general election.

I will continue to call on the Secretary of State to admit this is a broken promise and request that the TV licence remains free for over-75s.”

Following the conclusion of the BBC’s TV Licence consultation, Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Culture Secretary, added:

 “It is an outrage that this Government is overseeing the scrapping of free TV licences for 3 million older people, leaving a Tory manifesto promise in tatters. 

In the same week that Boris Johnson has championed tax cuts for the rich, this Conservative Government has delivered yet another ruthless welfare cut to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

I challenge all Tory leadership candidates to honour the commitment they made in 2017. You cannot means test for social isolation. You cannot means test for loneliness. Millions of elderly and isolated people will lose because of this announcement – Labour will fight it with everything we’ve got.”

Last month Labour passed unopposed an opposition day motion that stated that any changes to the existing TV licence concession must be subject to Parliamentary consent. Labour will push to have that motion upheld. 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP speaks out over access to vital cystic fibrosis drugs

A longstanding deadlock between pharmaceutical company, Vertex and NHS England is preventing those with Cystic Fibrosis from accessing vital medicine. Over a year ago, Prime Minister Theresa May said that she was seeking a ‘speedy resolution’ to the matter, still no progress has been made.

Inspired by a promise made to a 5-year-old girl in his city, Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan has taken part in a Westminster Hall Debate urging the Government to put patients first and do everything they can to end this deadlock.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

I made a promise to 5-year-old Ivy from Portsmouth that I would speak up for her and others who live with Cystic Fibrosis, I am just saddened that it is still necessary for me to do so.

While the Government claims Vertex’s price of over 100,000 pounds per year per patient is too high and Vertex claim their offer is better than any other ever proposed to a Government, those with Cystic Fibrosis continue to suffer.

We have seen 5 debates on this issue. Now we need to see action.”

Today’s three-hour debate was secured by over 100,000 people submitting their signatures and calling on the Government to act on the issue.

It is essential that the negotiating foundations are securely laid down as it is likely that Vertex, the pharmaceutical company in question, will develop treatments that could help 90% Cystic Fibrosis sufferers across the UK.

During the Westminster Hall Debate Mr Morgan said:

“We live in a nation that forged a National Health Service from the ashes of World War Two.

We live in a nation that prides itself on universal healthcare for all.

We live in a nation that is the envy of the world because healthcare is free at the point of delivery, and based on clinical need, not ability to pay.

We must see progress and we must see it quickly. It has been announced that Vertex Pharmaceuticals could potentially develop treatments for 90% of those who live with Cystic Fibrosis over the next 5 years.

If solid, robust negotiating foundations are not established now, then this could undermine patient access for generations.”

Following continued interaction with Gemma and Ivy Weir, local Cystic Fibrosis activists from Portsmouth, Mr Morgan has been working in Parliament in a bid to break the deadlock.

The MP has written to all 650 MPs urging them to take part in the #strawfiechallenge, written to two Health Secretaries, spoken in debates and written to the Prime Minister. Mr Morgan has cited 5-year-old Ivy as the inspiration for the continued pressure applied to Government.

To watch the speech visit: https://youtu.be/Ogcnm_UiXt4

 

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Government must do more to tackle LGBT+ hate crime says City MP

Following a question in the House of Commons today, Stephen Morgan MP has called on the Government to do more to protect the LGBT+ community

Recent trends in hate crime committed against the LGBT+ community have seen a rise of over 800 cases since 2014 and a third of members of the LGBT+ community report that they are scared to display public affection for fear of violence. Mr Morgan has been making a stand.

The Portsmouth MP said:

“In Birmingham, people have flocked to schools brandishing plaques filled with hate speech. In Southampton, an LGBT+ theatre production had to cancel its performance due to cast members being attacked.

In London, a couple travelling on the N31 bus in West Hampstead were subjected to abuse of the most horrific kind. Enough is enough.

The Government must do more to drum this kind of heinous behaviour out from our society. I will not stand idly by while members of our community are subject to violence, oppression and hatred.”

Mr Morgan’s lines of enquiry come as Portsmouth prepares for Pride, set to take place on the 22 June. For cities in the UK, Pride is an opportunity to celebrate the LGBT+ communities’ extensive contributions to society.

Mr Morgan has said:

“Pride is a demonstration of unity, togetherness and diversity and year after year, Portsmouth is a national leader in these celebrations with hundreds flocking to our city to join the festivities.

I want assurances the Government is doing everything in its power to protect those who will be joining in the Pride celebrations across the UK and confirmation that those who commit barbarous, hateful acts feel the full force of the law.

I am proud that Portsmouth is a city of compassion and hope for a better future, not a place for hate.”

 

City MP reacts to international D-Day 75 event

Responding to the international event on Southsea Common, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The overarching goal for today’s commemorations has been to make this event worthy of the brave veterans who set sail from this city’s shores 75 years ago and to keep them in the limelight. I think all would agree this was successfully achieved.

It was evident from the time I spent with veterans today that the commemorations did justice to the brave individuals, like my own grandfather, who crossed the channel three-quarters of a decade ago to fight for our freedom.

Portsmouth has again proven itself to be worthy a contender on the international stage and I am delighted that we were all able to pay tribute to those who fought and those who fell during Operation Overlord.

For Portsmouth, D-Day is not an event that we will focus on for a day or even a week, it is part of the fabric that makes this city and it will always be in our minds. I look forward to the packed itinerary scheduled for the rest of the week that Portsmouth City Council has worked tirelessly to create in a bid to sustain commemorations for the events that unfolded on the 6 June 1944.

I know I speak for the city when I convey my heartfelt thanks to Hampshire Constabulary, Portsmouth City Council and all our emergency services for the tireless work they have put it to make this event a success, they have demonstrated that they can perform under pressure and their dedication to their work has been outstanding. 

While the world may only be watching for the 5 June, Portsmouth’s commitment to sustained commemoration is a testament to the city’s long-running dedication to this nation’s armed forces community.”

 

Unity, fairness and peace our D-Day veterans fought for are just as important today

Nearly 75 years ago, armed with a postcardsized picture of his family with “Good luck, Jimmie! lovingly scrawled across the back and a false age that must have been believable enough to fool the army recruiters, my grandfather set sail from Portsmouth aged just 17 for the beaches of Normandy.

Upon his return from the front, where he served in the Royal Army Service Corps, he continued to live in Portsmouth and helped found the local branch of the Normandy Veterans association. 

The principles that he and so many others crossed the channel to fight for; unity, fairness and peace, nearly three quarters of a decade later remain just as important and perhaps more poignantly, still under threat. 

It is for good reason that on the 5 June, the eyes of the world will be on Portsmouth. Whether looking at Portsmouth Dockyard where the innovative Mulberry Harbours were built or Fratton Station where so many wounded soldiers were transported from, my city’s historic ties with Operation Overlord are undeniable and I am immensely proud that the constituency has been given the honour of hosting these international events. 

With 300 World War Two veterans, no less than 14 foreign dignitaries and thousands of visitors flocking to the city to join the commemorations, Portsmouth will be at the forefront of the global stage.

While it is essential that this event gains the world-wide coverage and esteem it deserves, it is of paramount importance that we do not stray from the purpose of these commemorations – honouring our brave veterans.

D-Day marked the turning point of the war and altered the course of history. The bravery and sacrifice demonstrated by these men and women remains unprecedented and it is vital that we celebrate the hard-won peace, democracy and diversity that they fought for. 

Regardless of who catches the attention of the media, we owe it to the 300 heroic souls who will be present at D-Day 75 along with all those who fell, to keep the limelight on them. For many taking part in the commemorations, social isolation and loneliness have replaced the bombs and bullets as their main fear and to address this we must adopt a policy of sustained commemoration. 

This event should not be a one-off media frenzy but a crescendo in our continued tribute to the many who fought and fell for our right to freedom.

The excellent contributions made by organisations like The Royal British Legion embody the attitude necessary when sacrifice on this scale has taken place, their efforts to ensure that veterans are continually engaged and honoured is something that society should aspire to match. 

A key theme emerging from a recent meeting with the Director General of The Royal British Legion was the contribution of the Allied Forces as a whole. 

A fact forgotten by many is that D-Day saw Polish pilots guarding British troops from the skies, Czech tank commanders supporting American infantryman and soldiers from across the commonwealth laying down their lives in the fight against fascism. A plethora of races, colours, religions, creeds and beliefs all coming together as one to overcome oppression from the far right – a far cry from the vitriolic narrative that some try to create whenever commemorations of this nature take place. 

Now more than ever, these notions of unity and togetherness must be celebrated. We find ourselves in a country divided by binary decision making and it is impossible to ignore the prevalence of divisive language hailing from all across the political spectrum.

Events like D-Day 75 in Portsmouth are an opportunity to celebrate what can be achieved when people from across the world unite behind one cause. 

Stephen Morgan MP

 

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Portsmouth MP gives green signal to D-Day train naming

Ahead of D-Day 75, the internationally recognised commemorations set to take place in Portsmouth on 5 June, Stephen Morgan MP has attended a commemorative train naming hosted by South Western Rail.

The Portsmouth MP caught up with the train at Waterloo station and waved off travellers in full World War Two attire as part of the tributes to those brave veterans who set sail from Portsmouth’s shores 75 years ago.

World War Two Navy veteran, Artificer Jimmy Ockendon renamed the train originally titled 444040,”The D-Day Story”. The train will continue to feature the message paying tribute to our brave veterans whilst ferrying passengers across from Waterloo to Portsmouth.

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Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP said:

“I am very grateful to the team at South Western Railway for naming one of their trains The D-Day Story Portsmouth, to both mark the important 75th commemoration, but also to recognise the fantastic city attraction in Southsea.

This is a fitting tribute to the contribution our great city made to secure Europe’s freedom, to the bravery of the men and women who made sacrifices and to today’s Portsmouth as a place for peace, remembrance and reconciliation.

It was a pleasure to wave farewell 1940s style to the train from London Waterloo as it headed to Portsmouth Harbour in this important week for the city for the official naming at one of our local stations”.

Actors from the Groundlings Theatre in Portsea met the city MP at London Waterloo station ahead of a busy day in Parliament for the Portsmouth MP. Actors were in period costume to represent those soldiers who travelled from Waterloo to Portsmouth to leave for D-Day.

Officially naming the train was 97-year-old Royal Navy veteran Jimmy Ockendon, President of Royal British Legion Portsmouth South branch.

 

Photo credit: Digby Oldridge, Photographer