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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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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

 

 

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‘Major questions remain’ over plan for dentists to reopen says city MP seeking answers in Parliament

Government has announced that dental practices can start to reopen on the 8 June. However, practitioners and the British Dental Association (BDA) have expressed grave concern over the lack of warning and what this means for PPE and training amid Covid-19.

A poll conducted by the BDA of 2,053 practices in England suggests that just over a third (36%) plan to reopen on Monday. The BDA poll identified a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) as one of the major challenges to reopening, with only one third of practices saying they had enough to provide face-to-face care.

In an effort to get answers, Stephen Morgan MP has submitted a chain of targeted questions directly to the Health Secretary. Turning up the heat on the Secretary of State, he probed on how government is supporting the supply of PPE and raised concerns over the lack of warning and engagement.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The fact that government has failed to properly engage with practices before announcing the reopening and failed to take steps to secure PPE is another example of dentistry being treated as the Cinderella service.

Additional costs incurred for procuring PPE, providing training, and putting in place social distancing measures could undermine the financial stability of a number of practices. In addition, the lack of warning simply means that over a third will not be able to open. The effect of this is people requiring dental work will have to wait even longer before receiving essential healthcare.

I hope that turning the heat up on the Health Secretary through questions in parliament, I will help get answers to some of the questions raised by government’s unclear messaging on reopening.”

Decontamination and social distancing policies mean longer treatment slots, with surgeries sometimes sitting idle between patients – leaving many practices unable to maintain their financial viability in the face of fewer patients and higher costs.

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said:

“Anyone expecting dentistry to magically return on Monday will find only a skeleton service. Those practices reopening now face fewer patients and higher costs and will struggle to meet demand.

Dentists returning to work still lack the support offered to our neighbours on the high street, and even clarity on key worker status when it comes to childcare. Ministers must change tack if dentistry is going to survive the new normal.”

Stephen Morgan MP has long argued that government must pay more attention to the silent creeping crisis in dentistry. Last year, when news broke that 1 in 5 Portsmouth children suffer from tooth decay by the time they are 5 years old, Mr Morgan took a number of actions.

This included meeting with senior NHS England officials, the Director of the British Dental Association, grilling the Minister responsible in parliament, and writing to the Health Secretary to push for improvements.

The city MP added:

“The cycle of complacency shown by Government towards NHS dentistry must come to an end. I have long argued for the need for a coherent oral health strategy that has patients at the heart of it and is focused on access and prevention, and NHS dentistry that is adequately commissioned and funded.

The recent developments arising due to the pandemic only increase the need for government to urgently address the lack of support for dentistry.

I will continue to engage with the BDA and local practices on behalf of constituents to ensure that concerns are raised in Parliament.”

 

 

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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