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World Aids Day: Government must step up support for local sexual health clinics to achieve 2030 ambition – City MP

Stephen Morgan MP has said government must ‘step up’ support for local sexual health clinics to achieve the government’s commitment to end new UK HIV transmissions by 2030, a pledge matched by Labour.

This year marks 40 years since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the UK, which has taken thousands of lives.

The government is expected to publish its action plan to achieve its objective later this month.

However, advances in technology and medicine like HIV prevention drug PrEP have made significant strides in achieving the government’s ambition of no new HIV cases by 2030.

The HIV treatment drug means more than 9 in 10 people living with HIV cannot pass the virus on. Despite this, thousands of people are diagnosed but not on successful HIV treatment due to a lack of local support.

Recent independent analysis, verified by the House of Commons Library, has found that the £3.85m drop in public health funding for Portsmouth over the last five years equates to a real-terms cut of 17.5 per cent, or minus £20 per person in real-terms.

In 2021/22, the public health team (like all other public health teams in England) also took on responsibility for costs associated with the provision of the anti-HIV drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and services related to it, including sexual health.

For World Aids Day 2021, leading HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust is focusing the importance of HIV testing.

THT has also said testing is ‘key’ to ending HIV transmissions. More people are accessing HIV testing to find out their status and in new ways. But online testing is still not available all year round in every area, and over half a million people a year leave sexual health clinics not having had a HIV test, disproportionately women and black people.

Earlier this week, the Portsmouth MP met with local campaigners and pledged to continue to lobby government for improvements in access to local sexual health services and for better support for people living with HIV.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“40 years on from the beginning of this terrible epidemic, our country has made huge strides to tackle the harms of HIV, including drugs like PrEP which is now available on NHS.

“The ambition for no new HIV cases by 2030 is the right one, but we have a long way to go if we are to make it a reality, and testing will play a key role in doing so.

“That means government has got to properly fund community sexual health clinics with the support they need to boost HIV testing rates in communities, end the postcode lottery for treatment and stop UK HIV transmissions by 2030.”

The Portsmouth MP is set to meet and visit with local commissioners and sexual health providers in the new year to better understand local challenges and issues, including on HIV testing, following his roundtable this week.

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Portsmouth MP votes against government ‘con’ to fix social care crisis

Stephen Morgan MP has voted against the government’s ‘backward’ proposals to fix the social care crisis.

The government is proposing a £86,000 cap in personal care costs in its Health and Care Bill.

However, in new details published last week, government said support payments from councils will not count towards the cap, with charities warning the move would unfairly hit the poorest.

Labour’s Shadow Social Care Minister, Liz Kendall MP, also said that the £86,000 cap “would still mean many people will have to sell their homes to pay for their care – against everything Boris Johnson promised.”

Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank, also pointed out the plan could “double your care costs” for someone who has about £90,000 in assets.

According to the Health Foundation, the government’s changes to the Bill “will no longer protect those with lower assets from catastrophic costs.”

The charity said that under “the current system people can lose all but £14,250 of their assets. For someone with £100k this represents 86% of their wealth. Under the Care Act, this would be reduced to 43%.  But under the Government’s proposals the maximum loss would be £80k – 80% of their assets”.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“This is a care con, not a care plan.

“We already knew most people won’t hit the cap because it doesn’t cover board and lodging in care homes, but now it has been revealed that the poorest pensioners will have to pay even more.

“Ministers have slipped out a significant change that means if you live in a £1m house, perhaps in the Home Counties, 90% of your assets will be protected.

“But if you need social care and live in an £90,000 in home in Hartlepool or even Portsmouth, your care costs could be doubled under new government proposals. That is not fair.

“That’s why I voted last night to reject these proposals and continue to press Ministers for a fairer option.”

Mr Morgan recently held roundtables with local care users and providers to better understand local issues and concerns, has asked a range of parliamentary questions on the issue and lobbied the Health Secretary on challenges the sector faces.

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Men’s Health Week: City MP praises community project to support men’s mental health

Stephen Morgan MP has praised the work of local community project ‘Breakfast OK’ for its efforts to support and protect men’s mental health.

It comes as this year’s Men’s Health Week, running from Nov 14 – 20, focuses on mental health and how important it is that men feel comfortable speaking up about their own mental health and accepting support where it is available.

The Portsmouth MP paid a visit to ‘Breakfast OK’, held at Fratton-based social enterprise ‘MAKE’, which offers a chance for men to meet up and have a chat, rant or simply share their experiences with others in a relaxed environment over breakfast.

The local initiative runs every Saturday from 10am-12pm at MAKE, 1 Cornwall Rd, Fratton, PO1 5AA.

Nationally, male suicide continues to be the biggest cause of death for men under 35, with over three out of four suicides being men.

Over 1 in 10 males in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders, but are much less likely to access psychological therapies in comparison to women.

On Men’s Mental Health Week, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Men’s mental health is in crisis and the stigma that asking for help and support when you need it is somehow weak or wrong must be stamped out.

“That’s why, during this year’s focus on mental health on Men’s Health Week, I’m proud to support and promote the value of the work local projects like ‘Breakfast OK’ provide to men who need help.

“Hubs like these provide a lifeline for those who need support and I really encourage those who feel they need help to reach out and ask for when they do. It’s ok not to be ok.”

Charities and Organisations that offer support include:

Sarah Mitas, Manager at MAKE, also said:

“44 years ago, my father lost his life to the silent illness of depression. On the outside he was a kind, hardworking, fun dad. However, the turmoil he must have felt inside to even begin to consider taking his own life must have been overwhelming.

“Breakfast OK? was sparked by wanting to give others who have felt the way he did a chance to talk it through and the chance to realise they are not alone. Suicide doesn’t just take one life. It leaves ripples of overwhelming guilt, sadness and loss throughout families, friends and associates.

“We really want Breakfast OK? to give men the chance to know its ok to talk and you are not alone. If we can help just one father, brother, grandad, uncle, friend it is one more man we will not lose to this devastating illness.”

Darren, a recent attendee of the weekly sessions, added:

“Breakfast Ok? is a great way of letting out any problems that I’m struggling to express to close family. You are not judged by what you say and you can get a huge amount of support by someone just listening.”

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Portsmouth MP urges government to tackle ‘blackhole’ of NHS waiting list as it passes 43,000 mark locally

Stephen Morgan MP has urged the government to tackle the ‘blackhole’ of local NHS waiting lists, as latest NHS figures revealed that at the end of September 2021, there were 43,797 people on the waiting list at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust.

The figures also showed 1,462 people had been waiting for more than a year for an appointment.

In March 2020, at the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, there were 4,235,970 people on the NHS waiting list in England. Nationally, the standard of 92% of people seen within 18 weeks of a referral has not been met since 2016.

However, the pandemic had a devastating effect on an already-fragile NHS, with the national waiting list is now 37.7 per cent higher than it was before Covid-19 hit the UK (an increase of 1,598,451 people). The current figure means that just over 1 in 10 people in England are on the NHS waiting list (10.3 per cent).

The Government is yet to publish its plan to address the vast NHS waiting list, with hospitals around the country already reporting unsustainable pressure and an inability to provide high quality care.

Nationally, the NHS is short of 100,000 staff, including 7,000 doctors and 40,000 nurses. In the Budget last month, the Chancellor did not set out a plan to recruit, train, and retain the staff needed to solve this waiting list crisis.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said: 

“If people in Portsmouth can’t get the timely care they deserve, there will be devastating consequences. 43,000 people on our local NHS waiting list is simply unsustainable.

“The doctors, nurses, and other health care staff at our local hospitals are doing amazing work, as I saw first-hand last week at QA hospital, but there’s only so much they can do after a decade of underfunding and without the staff numbers they need.

“Government has got to take action and come up with a plan to properly staff and support the NHS in order to tackle this blackhole of local waiting lists.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said:

“We’ve heard serious warnings from hospital chiefs about the unsustainable pressure the NHS is under. These figures are confirmation of the dangerously lengthy waiting times patients are forced to endure and the scale of pressure on overwhelmed A&Es.

“The coming winter weeks are set to be the most challenging in history for the NHS. It’s now urgent Ministers fix the stalling vaccination programme, resolve the immediate crisis in social care and bring forward a long-term plan to recruit the health care staff our NHS desperately needs, which Rishi Sunak has failed to provide despite imposing a punishing tax rise on working people.”

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Portsmouth MP blasts government for £3.85m drop in local public health funding

Stephen Morgan MP has blasted the government after recent analysis which has revealed a £3.85m drop in local public health funding over the last five years.

The Labour analysis, verified by the House of Commons Library, has found that the £3.85m drop in public health funding for Portsmouth over the last five years equates to a real-terms cut of 17.5 per cent, or minus £20 per person in real-terms.

Cuts public health budgets have meant difficult decisions about where they spend money, alongside carrying out vital work to control the spread of Covid-19, including local outbreak planning, and crucially, promotional work to support the vaccine rollout.

In 2021/22, the public health team (like all other public health teams in England) also took on responsibility for costs associated with the provision of the anti-HIV drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and services related to it.

Local public health teams are also responsible for stop smoking services, sexual health services, health checks, public mental health, drug and alcohol services, children’s public health services, programmes to tackle obesity, amongst other key public health programmes. Their work is crucial because it supports people in Portsmouth to stay well and helps prevent health problems.

The £3.85m real terms cut to the team’s funding fails to prioritise this vital work, despite public health staff having spent almost two years working flat out to tackle the worst public health crisis in living memory.

In last month’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review, the Government announced no real terms change to the total public health grant, which means no more funding for local public health teams in 2022/23.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:  

“I know the public health team in Portsmouth have worked so hard to keep us all safe during the pandemic.

“It is difficult to believe that, despite their hard work, the services they run have experienced such devastating cuts.

“The words ‘Levelling Up’ will mean nothing unless the Government invests in public health and prevention, which is key to improving local people’s lives and keeping them healthy for longer.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said:

“Our NHS is in crisis and patients are waiting longer for treatment thanks to years of Tory cuts and a failure to recruit the doctors and nurses needed.

“In communities across the country the Tories have cut the vital public health services that prevent people becoming seriously ill, ultimately putting more pressure on local hospitals.

“To save lives we need to keep people well, but instead public health services are set to be stretched again thanks to this Conservative government.”

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City MP discusses mental health with All Call Signs ahead of Remembrance Sunday

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan visited award-winning forces mental health initiative ‘All Call Signs’ to discuss their work and highlight Labour’s pledge to veterans ahead of Remembrance Sunday.   

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister highlighted the importance of improving ongoing mental health support for personnel and veterans, particularly given events in Afghanistan this year.

It comes as Labour announced £35 million fund to support British veterans and Afghan interpreters.

The funding, recovered from cancelled MoD interpreter contracts, will be used for grants to charities and Local Authorities in England to provide mental health support services and support for those Afghan nationals who have relocated to the UK through the ARAP scheme.

Calls to veteran’s mental health charity Combat Stress have doubled since the Taliban swept to power. At the same time, its income has fallen by 37% in the last financial year partly due to cuts in NHS funding support.

Research last year found only 26% of charities thought that the government supports the mental health of veterans, and 79% of charities believe that the responsibility to support veterans should lie more with the government and armed forces.

All Calls Signs, based on Albert Road in Southsea, provide peer support organisation for veterans and serving military personnel.

Their chat app is staffed by over 700 volunteer listeners with experience of life in uniform with digital caseworkers bridging the gaps in veteran’s mental health services for hundreds of users seeking help.

Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I’ve long been a proud supporter of All Call Signs’ innovative work to support serving personnel and veterans across our country, and am really proud this organisation is based in Portsmouth.

“This year our armed forces have stepped up once again to protect us at home and abroad. Events in Afghanistan have taken an understandable toll on both serving personnel and veterans, so Remembrance is a timely reminder that we must keep our promise to support those who have fought for our country.

“Recent government announcements on mental health are a drop in the ocean whilst the uncertainty surrounding future funding for the Office of Veterans Affairs threatens to pull the rug from under our personnel when they need it most.

“Labour’s new support fund of £35 million will make sure we protect those who protect our country and keep us all safe.”

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Commons Covid Inquiry: City MP responds

Responding to the Commons inquiry into the handling of the pandemic, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Ministers were repeatedly warned that their dither and delay would cost lives and this report is a damning indictment that it tragically, did.

“It underlines a string of monumental errors and Government complacency, including a failure to set up an effective test and trace system that left many vulnerable people in Portsmouth care homes exposed to the virus.

“For a while now I have been calling on the government to provide our local public services with the support they need, but the government’s failure to step up when they needed it most cost lives.

“There must be a public inquiry now so that lessons can be learnt quickly, those responsible for these failures can be held to account and families from across our city can be given the answers they deserve.”

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World Mental Health Day – message from Stephen Morgan MP

Today is World Mental Health Day and Mind, the mental health charity, is encouraging everyone to ‘Do One Thing’ to reduce mental health inequality.

The pandemic has had a profound effect on our nation’s mental health. Covid-19 has been just as much a mental health emergency as a physical one. Right now, there is a backlog of around 1.6 million people officially waiting for treatment from mental health services, with private estimates from the sector suggesting around 8 million more would benefit from treatment.

We also know that existing inequalities have been exacerbated by the pandemic, disproportionately impacting young people, people from ethnic minority communities and those in financial hardship.

People with pre-existing mental health problems have been amongst those most severely affected. Two thirds of people with mental health problems told Mind that their mental health has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic – facing increased complexity of needs, worsening physical health and disruption to support. But we can change this.

This World Mental Health Day, I’m encouraging everyone to ‘do one thing’. As Mind say ‘If we all do one thing, we can change everything’. Whether you use social media or speak with friend, family, or colleagues, do one thing.

I hope that you and your family find the information below useful and I urge all constituents to get involved this World Mental Health Day.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

Access information and support

One in four people will experience a mental health problem in any one year. There is a range of support available both locally and nationally to help.

  • A range of resources on our website specifically focussed on looking after your mental health in the workplace. Click here
  • Mind’s “how to manage stress guide” is for anyone who wants to learn how to manage stress. It explains what stress is, what might cause it and how it can affect you. It also includes information about ways you can help yourself and how to get support, as well as providing tips for those around you. Click here
  • Mind’s introduction to mental health problems explains what mental health problems are and the different kinds of help, treatment and support that are available. Click here
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Portsmouth MP says ‘urgent action’ needed to tackle a predicted rise in local waiting times for heart diagnosis and treatment

Stephen Morgan MP has met with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to discuss the need for urgent action to address the pandemic’s devastating impact on heart care.

A new report from the BHF has estimated that 725 people in Portsmouth could be waiting for life saving heart diagnosis and treatment two years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – 44 per cent higher than the waiting list before the pandemic began (1).

The Portsmouth MP has heard that the BHF is calling for Government to take significant action to reduce the heart care backlog and build a stronger NHS for the future. The charity argues that this must include a clear plan for cardiovascular services and rapid and substantial long-term investment to build more capacity into NHS England and relieve pressure on exhausted health workers, as well as better support for heart patients while they wait for vital treatment.

The BHF warns that without this immediate intervention, alongside the necessary investment at the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, there is a risk that thousands more people could die from heart and circulatory diseases, despite the NHS going above and beyond during the pandemic.

At a recent meeting at Labour party conference, the city MP met with the BHF’s policy team to discuss the case for building a more resilient health system to save more lives from heart and circulatory diseases for years to come.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It was eye-opening to speak with the BHF about the significant local disruption to vital heart care during the pandemic and what will be needed to urgently address this growing backlog.

“I agree that urgent action is needed to end the untold heartbreak now. A clear plan is vital to build capacity back into the health service and relieve the pressure on overstretched health workers in Portsmouth and across the country.

“I will continue to work with the BHF to ensure this is a priority for the Government and will be raising issues in the House of Commons on behalf of constituents”.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said:

“Every number on a waiting list is a loved one facing a potentially agonising wait for care that could save or improve their life.

“Vital heart tests and surgery can’t be put off – long delays lead to debilitating anxiety and put people’s lives at risk. The voices of people with heart and circulatory diseases must be heard as the Government considers the action needed to tackle both the mounting backlog in cardiovascular care and the pandemic’s wider impact on vital heart treatment.”

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New analysis finds homeowners in Hampshire face the brunt of the Government’s new social care plan in the South East

  • New analysis shows homeowners in Hampshire could face care costs of up to one third of their assets, including the value of their home.
  • In comparison, homeowners in Surrey face costs of around just 15% of their assets.
  • This means homeowners in Hampshire, with significant care needs, are more likely to have to sell their homes and will lose more of the value of it.

New analysis of assets held by homeowners in different regions of the UK show that those in Hampshire face losing a higher proportion of their assets if they have high care needs and hit the £86k care cap.

The analysis shows that homeowners in Esher & Walton (Surrey) face costs averaging at 14% of their assets if they have high care needs and hit the cap.

Meanwhile, other constituencies in the South East, like Portsmouth South, face losing 38% of their assets.

This comes despite a guarantee in the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto “that no one needing care has to sell their home to pay for it”.

It follows analysis by the Resolution Foundation, who found that “the cap, which does not benefit households with less than £100,000 in capital, will be of relatively more help in the more affluent areas…it will offer most protection to those living in high wealth parts of England. This is not just because of the obvious reason that a cap set in cash terms offers far more protection to those with higher-value assets to lose.”

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, said:

“It’s shocking that people in Portsmouth may end up having to pay for care costs in excess of a third of their total assets, including their own home.

“Those in leafy Surrey, by comparison, would have to just fork out 14 per cent of their estate. That’s half of what my constituents would have to cough up.

“The Tories have broken yet another of their promises to the British people – their manifesto isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

It’s time to properly fix our social care system.”

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:

“Social care is in desperate need, but the Prime Minister – along with every Conservative MP – was elected on a manifesto that promised to fix the system on a plan that had been developed and would mean no one would have to sell their home.

“On both, he broke his promise.”