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

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

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

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

Stephen Morgan MP said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the findings, Stephen Morgan MP said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Stephen Morgan MP said:

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

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

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

Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer said:

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Mr Morgan said:

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

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

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

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

Local campaigner, Kirsty Mellor said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen Morgan MP said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Launching the Portsmouth petition the city MP said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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City MP says ‘government must do more’ to protect front line health and social care workers

Stephen Morgan MP, also Shadow Local Government Minister, has today lobbied government over their failure to provide Covid-19 tests and protective equipment to frontline health and social care staff, writing an urgent letter to the Health Secretary calling for action

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has vehemently stated the best way to ‘attack’ Covid-19 is increase the rate of testing. Mounting evidence also suggests that ensuring healthcare professionals are tested, and removed where results are positive, can greatly impact the spread of the virus.

On testing frontline staff, the city MP said:

“Despite 4 months warning from other countries and global bodies, government is not testing frontline health and social care staff for Covid-19. Why is this important? Because evidence suggests you can get Covid-19 twice meaning health and social care staff, vulnerable patients and their families are at even greater risk.

Government is not only failing to test relevant workers; they have not yet even provided a date for when they will. I have today put pressure on the Health Secretary to provide clarity to this situation and made the case for an immediate strategy for boosting tests for these brave men and women.”

Mr Morgan also applied pressure to the Health Secretary over the apparent lack of equipment for the health and social care workforce.

This joins calls from the head of NHS Providers, the Chief Executive of Women’s Resource Centre and trade unions who have expressed ‘deep’ concern over the Health Secretary’s lack of action to provide masks, aprons, gloves and hand sanitizer to at-risk front-line staff.

On equipment issues, Mr Morgan said:

“Evidenced reports of frontline healthcare providers being told to spend £100 of their own money on safety equipment and further reports of incorrect, ineffective masks being issued is not what these heroes and heroines deserve. It also puts their often-vulnerable patients at risk.

Why don’t these vital workers have the equipment they need? When will they get this equipment? Why are they being forced to fork out fortunes on their own protective get up?

Today I have demanded answers to these questions directly from the Health Secretary. These are unacceptable conditions for healthcare workers and the British public.”

The city MP also hit home the fact that the social care system was under considerable strain prior to this pandemic and that current conditions could push it beyond breaking point.

On social care, Mr Morgan added:

It is important to look at the state of social care before the Covid-19 outbreak. It was already massively underfunded and understaffed with 120,000 vacancies across the country. With additional pressures now placed on services, this could exceed 200,000 vacancies if 20% of the workforce have to self-isolate.

This means it is a life or death situation for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable care receivers. I therefore urge you to take action to protect these life-saving workers.

This crisis follows a decade of social care cuts that have left a system on its knees. Urgent and drastic action is needed to both protect staff and vulnerable care receivers.”

Mr Morgan’s parliamentary action echoes the concerns of many who work in health social care and have contacted him since the crisis began.

He has vowed to continue working constructively with Ministers and scrutinising the government’s decision making around the Covid-19 outbreak to ensure care givers and receivers are not put at risk.

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Covid-19: Action update from Stephen Morgan MP

The Covid-19 emergency risks hitting our most vulnerable hardest. We all have a role to play in working to protect our community.

Today I have been taking action to see to it our older and more vulnerable community members are supported along with the voluntary sector that relentlessly puts others first.

Actions I have taken in the House of Commons today include:

  • Reached out to city schools – I have today contacted all headteachers in constituency schools offering a channel for them, governors, staff, and trade union representatives to share views and concerns to feed this into government planning. Tonight the education secretary has announced school closures for all those except key workers and vulnerable children.

 

  • Working to strengthen our city’s voluntary organisations – Panic buying has left some supermarket shelves bear with reports of vulnerable people crying in the aisles. A number of volunteers and local groups are working tirelessly to help people across the constituency and I will continue to link them with Portsmouth Hive. This paves the way for volunteers to access priority goods for vulnerable people.

 

  • Standing up for cultural assets – The Mary Rose museum is a cultural asset of international significance and one of Portsmouth’s most-cherished attractions. Covid-19 runs the risk of financially challenging a number of museums. Today I wrote to the Culture Secretary to urge a package of care for the Mary Rose and similar institutions.

 

  • Raising the need for tailored financial support for voluntary organisations – Voluntary organisations are stepping up amid to the Covid-19 crisis, from delivering food to vulnerable people to tackling social isolation. They are looking after our communities, but they need the tools to do that. Today I set out to the Chancellor what additional measures need to be taken to give voluntary organisations the financial tools they need to stay afloat.

 

  • Representing Portsmouth from the frontbenches – Democracy must continue despite the crisis. Today, as Shadow Communities Minister l joined colleagues to hold the government to account on their plans for social care. Local authorities are responsible for looking after some of society’s most vulnerable and they are under considerable strain already. Today I worked with others to raise this point to the Minister in the chamber.

 

  • Conducting constituent Covid-19 casework –This pandemic affects every aspect of daily life, for some more than others. My team and I are busy helping with casework inquiries as well as receiving a high volume of questions and issues. Today I spent time helping constituents access voluntary support and worked with the City Council to help resolve housing issues.

These are just some of the actions I have taken for our community today. I will continue to represent Portsmouth in parliament and be a voice for our community where it matters.

 

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Stephen Morgan MP’s action update on Covid-19

It is apparent that the economic shockwaves of this pandemic will have implications for Portsmouth.

We have a thriving independent shopping scene and a host of small businesses that our community both relies upon and is immensely proud of. Today, alongside raising public health concerns, I have been taking action to protect these small businesses.

Actions I have taken in the House of Commons today include:

  • Speaking up for Portsmouth small businesses: Today I put pressure on the Business Secretary to protect pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and other small businesses by reducing the ambiguity around banning attendance to pave the way for simpler insurance claims.
  • Being a voice for the solo self-employed: Most self-employed have no HR department to give them guidance, no sick pay to fall back on, and are facing the likelihood of less work. Today I wrote to the relevant government official to ask what they are doing to assist those who are self-employed.
  • Building a support network for Portsmouth small businesses: Today I have been liaising with Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to encourage a package of support is being offered to small businesses that have been affected by Covid-19.
  • Protecting local democracy: Today I lobbied the council to find technological solutions to maintain local democracy amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Solutions have been found that will help councillors continue to represent their communities safely and effectively. It is vital that councillors are role models for residents in changing the way we work in crisis.
  • Representing our city from parliament’s frontbenches: Today during the Foreign Office and Commonwealth Department statement on Covid-19 I worked with colleagues on the frontbenches, helping opposition MPs apply scrutiny to government travel policy.
  • Making sure information is at the fingertips of Portsmouth people: Information is key at times of crisis. That is why I have been working to create a Frequently Asked Questions page based on the most common enquiries I receive. This can be found here.
  • Put measures in place to maintain support to constituents: Today I put in place protections to carry on providing casework support to constituents while keeping staff safe amid the Covid-10 outbreak.
  • Standing up for the most vulnerable in our community: Working with Cllr Cal Corkery, today I submitted parliamentary questions urging the government to take special measures to support homeless people and rough sleepers who are at greater risk due to Covid-19.

As the effects of Covid-19 progress, so will my work standing up for our community. I will endeavour to keep you up to date on my actions and what I am doing to help mitigate the effects of this pandemic.

 

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Covid-19: Your frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Last updated: 12/6/2020 14:15

New Government guidance was announced on the 10 June, with some new rules coming into play on the 13 June. 

Can I now meet people outside my household? 

Now you can see people that you do not live with while protecting yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19).

How many people am I allowed to meet with outdoors?

You are allowed to meet in groups of up to six people who you do not live with or who are not in your support bubble.

You are only allowed to meet in groups of more than six people if everyone is a member of the same household or, from 13 June, support bubble.

There is more information about the rules you should follow when meeting people you do not live with here.

Government has now rolled out a track and trace system. This helps trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus.

Evidence suggests this is a more effective tool than lockdown and Stephen is continuing to keep a watchful eye on government’s progress on this.

You can access more information here:

Should I be at work? 

On 10 May 2020 the Government began to outline its plans to enable certain sectors in England to return to work, while the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have continued the period of lockdown.

Several sets of of sector specific guidance have been issued. This sector specific guidance covers construction and other outdoor work, warehouses, labs and research facilities, offices and contact centres and similar indoor environments. The remaining guidance addresses working in other people’s homes, restaurants offering takeaway or delivery, shops and similar environments and people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers and lorry drivers.

Guidance on the revised flexible furlough scheme applicable from 1 July can be found.

What is a criminal offence?

It is a criminal offence to:

  • meet indoors with anyone who is not a member of your household or, from 13 June, your support bubble, except for specific exceptions set out in law
  • meet outdoors in a group of more than six with people who are not in your household or support bubble, except for specific exceptions set out in law
  • incite others to break the rules by e.g. inviting people to a party threaten others with infection by coronavirus, for example by coughing or spitting in their direction

Can I visit a clinically vulnerable person?

We know that people 70 and over, those with certain underlying conditions and pregnant women may be more clinically vulnerable, so Government have advised them to take particular care to avoid contact with others.

That means such individuals can meet people outdoors but should be especially careful. Similarly, clinically vulnerable people can form a support bubble with another household, if one of the households is an adult living alone or with children, but extra care should be taken. For example all members of the support bubble should be especially careful to socially distance from people outside of the household or bubble.

If someone is defined as clinically extremely vulnerable and being asked to shield, you should follow the guidance for a shielded person as this is different to the wider clinically vulnerable group. Shielded people are advised not to form a support bubble due to the heightened risks for this group.

Can I use public transport if I’m seeing friends in a park or going to my parents’ garden?

You should avoid using public transport if you can. You should cycle, walk or drive wherever possible. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

Government information on transport can be found here