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Portsmouth MP encourages over-50s to take up free Government flu-jab

Stephen Morgan MP has called for over-50s in Portsmouth to enrol on the government’s recently announced free flu-jab scheme starting on 1 December, following his recent visit to a Portsdown Group Practice surgery in Portsmouth.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that people aged 50-64 will be added to a list of people who are already eligible for a flu jab in England under an expanded winter vaccine scheme, which aims to combat the “twin threats” of flu and Covid-19.

Over 30 million people will be eligible for jabs making it the most comprehensive flu vaccination programme in UK history.

NHS hospitals in England during the winter period face typically higher levels of pressure compared to the rest of the year, but this year will face the added challenge of pressures on ICU beds and treatment for Covid-19 patients.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“This year health clinics and hospitals face the additional pressure of an already difficult period of the year for public health in treatment for Covid-19 patients.

That is why it is incredibly important we do all that we can to help reduce this pressure on our NHS and health workers, and getting vaccinated for flu will go along in achieving that.”

Whilst added pressures will be particularly focused on hospitals this year, local NHS GP surgeries and clinics will play a significant role in the rollout of the government’s over-50s flu-jab programme.

Stephen Morgan MP, added:

“Local NHS practices provide an incredibly important role in local public health, and I’m really proud of the work of the Portsdown Group has done for Portsmouth on this, including Kingston Crescent Surgery.”

You can find out more about the government’s free winter flu-jab programme by visiting its website

 

 

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“The pandemic has shown just how valuable and loved NHS nurses are. They deserve a pay rise”

Since being elected as MP, Stephen Morgan has been standing up for public sector workers calling to scrap the cap, and pay those who serve our communities properly and fairly.

Responding to the Royal College of Nursing’s new campaign the Portsmouth South representative said:

“As an RCN champion I obviously support calls for the Government to make an immediate commitment to pay talks and to recognise and reward all NHS workers with a guarantee of a decent pay rise.

Health and care workers have been at the heart of the fight against coronavirus, working day and night to protect the NHS and save lives. They do so much to make our health service one to be proud of and they deserve our respect, admiration and full support.

Despite the brilliant efforts of staff, I am concerned that a decade of pay restraint and a lack of investment in the workforce has resulted in more than 100,000 vacancies across the health service, which includes more than 43,000 nurse vacancies.

In July, NHS England published its People Plan for 2020/21 which sets out actions to grow the workforce. While the plan contains some worthy commitments on staff wellbeing, I am concerned that without additional funding staff will continue to be overstretched and overworked. The Government had promised a full five-year People Plan with detailed, costed action. I believe this plan falls way short of that.

Ministers have said that decisions on pay for nursing staff are not due to be reviewed until 2021 when the current pay deal ends. However, I believe it is important to show our NHS staff the same commitment they have shown our country during the coronavirus emergency.

The pandemic has shown just how valuable and loved NHS nurses are. Ahead of the next Spending Review, I believe the Government must commit to the pay talks that NHS workers deserve, and put together a proper solution for recruitment and retention.

As we know, valuing our NHS workforce through fair pay and conditions is crucial to tackling vacancies. I firmly believe that any new deal for nurses and wider NHS staff must be agreed as soon as possible, in recognition of their bravery and the sacrifices they have made during the pandemic”.

The city MP has vowed to continue to put pressure on Ministers to act on pay and bring certainty to those who serve our city’s communities in the nursing profession.

 

 

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Portsmouth MP backs campaign for safe social care visits

Stephen Morgan MP is backing a campaign launched by The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) which is calling on the Government to categorise social workers as professional visitors.

The campaign has also called for the government to facilitate regular COVID-19 testing to give social workers access to people in care and health settings that they are there to support and safeguard.

Social workers undertake statutory and non-statutory duties on behalf of local authorities and the NHS including undertaking risk assessments, early intervention, and being a key advocate on behalf of people and families.

If social workers do not have access to people in care and health settings that they are there to protect the human rights of, this could result in needs being missed and the rights of people receiving care being lost.

BASW are also calling for routine tests for designated family members to be introduced to address the concern that the mental wellbeing of care residents is being severely impacted by not being able to see loved ones.

Speaking in support of the campaign, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South said:

“The campaign to facilitate regular testing of social workers and loved ones is one rooted in common sense and puts the welfare of those in receipt of residential care at the heart of social policy.

“Social workers in Portsmouth play an integral role in protecting the rights and wellbeing of people who live in care settings, and all measures should be taken to ensure that they have physical access to those in their care.

“People who live in care and health settings in our city need human contact with their loved ones, and we cannot disregard this human need. Instead we should take all measures to make sure this can be carried out safely.”

 

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“What we learnt from the first wave of this virus is that if you don’t act early and decisively, the cost will be far worse”

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons ahead of a second national lockdown, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“What we learnt from the first wave of this virus is that if you don’t act early and decisively, the cost will be far worse.

More people will lose their jobs, more businesses will be forced to close and tragically, more people will lose their loved ones.

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor failed to learn this lesson.

As a result, this second lockdown will be longer than it needed to be, it will be harder and the human cost will be higher.

The Government must use this time to finally fix test and trace, address the gaping holes in support for the self-employed and help small businesses through this crisis.

I will continue to lobby on behalf of Portsmouth so that all constituents are protected and kept safe”.

The Portsmouth South representative has vowed to take forward constituent concerns raised with him in recent days including access to gyms and sport facilities, support to independent shops and pubs, and ensuring the most vulnerable are protected.

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP reacts to PM’s national lockdown announcement

Reacting to news from the Prime Minister that the Government has decided Britain should go into another national lockdown until at least 2 December 2020, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The Government has been too slow to act the whole way through this crisis whether on health or on jobs, and it’s the British people that are suffering.

Now we will have a much harder lockdown again, Ministers must use this time to fix testing and tracing and set out a proper plan so Government doesn’t keep repeating the same mistakes again.
I know many in our city will feel miserable about this latest announcement by the Prime Minister and it’s consequences for their family, friends and community. Our local businesses have been struggling to keep people in work and customers served. It’s the same story up and down the country.

By working together here in Portsmouth we can, and we will, get through this, push down infections, and save lives”.

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party said:

“Everybody is concerned about the rise in infections, hospital admissions and – tragically – the number of deaths.
That’s why three weeks ago, Labour called for a circuit breaker in England, in line with SAGE’s recommendation to bring infections down. The Government completely rejected that, only to now announce the same thing.
That delay in introducing restrictions will come at an economic cost and a human cost.
I’m glad that the Government has finally taken this decision – but it should have done so weeks ago.”
The restrictions proposed include:
  • People will be told to stay at home except for education, work (if it can’t be done from home), exercise and recreation, medical reasons, shopping for food and other essentials, or to care for others
  • All pubs and restaurants will have to close (non-alcohol takeaways and deliveries can continue)
  • All non-essential shops will have to close (supermarkets can sell non-essential goods)
  • Households will not be allowed to mix with others indoors, or in private gardens
  • Individuals can meet one person from outside their household in an outside public space
  • Support bubbles for people who live alone and households made up of single parents and children can continue
  • Children will be able to move between homes if their parents are separated
  • Schools, colleges and universities will remain open
  • Workplaces will be asked to stay open if people cannot work from home – including construction and manufacturing
  • Outdoor exercise and recreation will be allowed, but gyms will have to close
  • Clinically vulnerable advised not to go to work if they are unable to work from home

After 2 December, different regions will return to the tiers one to three, depending upon the rates of infection.

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Have your say on Covid-19 testing 

News reports from across the country are increasingly identifying the problems with the Government’s Covid-19 testing arrangements with ill people struggling to access a test or told to travel miles and miles. 

Stephen Morgan MP is calling on Ministers to urgently fix and expand testing systems, ensure contract tracing is improved and delivered by Public Health, and support is given to those who need to isolate in our city. 

As more and more people get in touch about the Government’s handling of the testing system, Stephen is keen to hear from constituents about their experiences so he can continue to lobby Ministers for urgent improvements. 

Please use this short form to have your say. 

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Read our data privacy policy here

 

 

 

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City MP voices concern over local NHS services being hit hardest by new Tory staff charges

Portsmouth’s NHS services have been spending millions of pounds a year on government charges to bring in much-needed staff from abroad making it the worst-hit area in the country, damning new figures have revealed.

Figures show that Portsmouth has been the hardest hit by this new Tory Immigration Skills Charge. Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust had paid the most out of any NHS trust in the UK – £2,007,000 since 2017, while in 2019/2020 Solent NHS Trust was forced to fork out £5,000.

The stats are even more eye-watering when compared to other trusts across the country. In the Conservative MP for Ribble Valley’s local Lancashire Care Trust, the total charges amounted to £115,000 – meaning Portsmouth paid £1,892,000 more in the same time. In the Tory held constituency, the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust also paid £2,592 – a figure incomparable with the costs faced by Portsmouth.

The full breakdown of Portsmouth NHS Trust charges is:

2017/18: £306,000         

2018/19: £655,000         

2019/20: £972,000         

2020/21: £74,000

Total: £2,007,000

Paying tribute to NHS staff, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Our NHS staff have shown unprecedented heroism amid this pandemic, putting others before themselves and selflessly working for our community. Through regular meetings with the Portsmouth Hospital Trust, I know their ingenuity has allowed them to have one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country. It is wholly unjust that their reward for demonstrating such robust planning is disproportionately high staff charges.

While Ministers clap for health workers each evening on their doorsteps, behind closed doors they have been charging NHS trusts millions simply for employing much needed foreign staff. This is punishing our NHS for government’s failure to properly recruit.

The fact Portsmouth has been worst hit shows that time after time our community is forced to disproportionately bear the brunt of regressive, costly Tory policy.”

The city MP also stated that despite the additional charges faced by the Portsmouth Hospital Trust, he has no doubt that they will ‘continue to excel in serving the needs of patients’.

Shadow Immigration Minister, Holly Lynch MP said:

“Local NHS trusts require specialists from overseas, yet the Tories are punishing hospital budgets for their own failure to train enough skilled staff,”

“The irrationality of the immigration skills charge for NHS trusts has been underlined by the coronavirus pandemic.”

“The Conservative Government should be doing all they can to support the NHS. Instead, they are presenting trusts with an unenviable choice: either leave life-saving specialist roles unfilled, or fork out expensive fees for overseas staff.”

Analysis of data released under Freedom of Information laws to the Labour Party suggested that since 2017, 52 trusts paid £15,549,944 to the Government through the immigration skills charge.

The charge is referred to as the immigration skills charge and is imposed by the Home Office on any employer wanting to apply for a visa for someone to work in the UK for six months or more under either a tier 2 (general) visa or a tier 2 (intra-company transfer) visa.

 

 

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‘NHS and care staff deserve a pay rise’ says Portsmouth MP

Last month we celebrated the anniversary of our National Health Service and the incredible staff who make our NHS what it is: our nation’s proudest achievement, and our greatest asset.

While 72 years has passed since its creation, the intrinsic value of our NHS has not diminished.

Selflessly caring for the nation in its time of need, putting others before themselves and working around the clock amid an unprecedented crisis, this has been the everyday reality for NHS staff throughout the Covid emergency.

And as the sound of clapping from the doorstep falls silent, the need for government to properly recognise the efforts of our NHS grows.

It is high time that these cherished healthcare workers received pay to match their value to society.

The government’s refusal to bring forward the pay rise is a slap in the face to the workers, who for nearly three quarters of a decade, have been the backbone of the nation.

But we must remember, it was just 3 years ago that applause rang out from the Tory frontbenches when they blocked a pay rise for public sector workers.

That’s why Labour supports those calling on the Government today to make an immediate commitment to pay negotiations with NHS staff.

We cannot clap for our carers for weeks, then fail to back them up with meaningful action.

We must show our NHS staff the same commitment they have shown our country in its time of need.

For the sake of the workers who continue to keep us safe, the thousands of unfulfilled vacancies left in the NHS and for justice – healthcare workers must receive fair pay.

Stephen Morgan MP 

 

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“Government must tackle disproportionate effect of Covid on BAME communities” City MP tells Minister in House of Commons

In response to a recent Public Health England (PHE) report exposing that black, Asian and minority ethnic people were worst affected by Covid, Stephen Morgan MP has urged the Government to outline its plans for combating racial inequality in the House of Commons today.

The IFS estimated that Black Caribbean deaths are 1.8 times those of White British, Pakistani deaths are 2.7 times as high, and Black African fatalities 3 times higher.

The PHE report confirms that the impact of Covid-19 replicated existing health inequalities and, in some cases, exacerbated them further, particularly affecting minority groups.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Government’s long running failure to address issues that disproportionately effect minority communities such as poor housing, air pollution and overcrowding has resulted in Covid-19 hitting people from a BAME background harder – as the PHE has revealed.

I will continue to put pressure on Ministers to not only acknowledge the findings of the report, but implement the recommendations set out in the ‘Beyond the data’ publication and take stock of Labour’s race relations adviser’s recommendations which will be released soon.

Urgent, drastic and comprehensive measures must be set out by government to tackle this deeply entrenched racist rot that we find in every part of our society. There is no excuse for inaction.”

Labour has carried its own review into the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME groups, led by Baroness Doreen Lawrence who is Labour’s race relations adviser.

The report will gather data on the impact of Covid-19 on Black Asian Minority Ethnic Communities and will be released in the summer.

The city MP followed up his initial question to Government today with a targeted line of inquiry relating to workplace discrimination.

Data shows that almost half of BME workers (45%) have been given harder or more difficult tasks to do, over one third (36%) had heard racist comments or jokes at work, around a quarter (24%) had been singled out for redundancy and one in seven (15%) of those that had been harassed said they left their job because of the racist treatment they received.

On workplace discrimination, the city MP said:

“Research carried out by the TUC revealed that people from ethnic minorities are often blighted by discrimination at work. This is not only shocking, but the fact that this may be linked to increased deaths among this demographic is earthshattering.

From being given less desirable and more dangerous work to being singled out for redundancy and getting less PPE, the report identifies example after example of racism must be drummed out immediately.

That’s why today I demanded action from government in dealing with this discrimination and why I will continue to put pressure on Ministers to redress workplace inequality.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Covid-19: Government must act now on impact on BAME communities

This week’s report by Public Health England (PHE) looking into coronavirus inequalities, ‘Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of Covid-19 on BAME groups’ provides even more evidence of the structural and racial inequalities which have led to the Covid-19 pandemic hitting black, Asian and minority ethnic communities across the UK so very hard.

These recommendations should never have been blocked by Government in the first place.

Thousands of people and organisations across the country have made it clear that urgent, collaborative and decisive action is needed. I heard that view too listening to concerns amongst community leaders from across Portsmouth in a zoom call arranged by the social care team at the city council last week.

We now know that whilst people from ethnic minority backgrounds constitute 14% of the UK population, they worryingly account for 34% of critically ill Covid-19 patients and a similar percentage of all Covid-19 cases.

The PHE report makes seven recommendations to address inequalities:

  • Better data collection about ethnicity and religion, including having this recorded on death certificates to accurately monitor the impact on these communities
  • Supporting further research with the participation of ethnic minority communities to understand the increased risk and develop programmes to reduce it
  • Improving BAME groups’ access to, experiences of and outcomes from NHS and other services – using audits, health impact assessments and better representation of black and minority ethnic communities among staff
  • Developing risk assessments for black, Asian and minority ethnic workers in roles where they are exposed to a large section of the general public or those infected with the virus
  • Producing culturally sensitive education and prevention campaigns to rebuild trust and help communities access services such as contact tracing, antibody testing and a future vaccine
  • Targeting ethnic minority groups with culturally sensitive health messages to address conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma
  • Ensuring that Covid-19 recovery strategies actively address inequalities to create long-term change

Why are these recommendations so important? We know the health and care workforce in England are significantly over-represented by people from BAME groups. Often, BAME workers are in lower paid roles within the NHS, which means that these roles cannot be done remotely. Over 90% of the doctors who have died during the pandemic have been BAME, more than double the proportion in the medical workforce as a whole.

We also know that individuals from the most deprived communities are nearly twice as likely to be admitted to intensive care as the least deprived. The most recent research from the UK suggests that both ethnicity and income inequality are independently associated with COVID-19 mortality.

Most worryingly of all, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the death rate among British black Africans and British Pakistanis from coronavirus in English hospitals is over 2.5 times that of the white population. The deaths of people from a black Caribbean background are 1.7 times higher than the white population.

The Government cannot make the same mistakes again if there is a second wave of coronavirus this Autumn. When PHE’s second report states that ‘historic racism’ may have been a factor which prevented individuals from speaking up about risk in the workplace, this must act as a wake-up call for decision-makers.

That’s why I want Ministers to act now and produce a detailed action plan on how the recommendations from the PHE report will be implemented.

I will continue to listen to local voices and Portsmouth’s BAME groups to make sure our views are heard in Westminster, and commit to holding the Government to account when mistakes are made.

Stephen Morgan MP