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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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City MP responds to AQUIND corruption allegations

Stephen Morgan MP has responded to recent reports that AQUIND owner Viktor Fedotov made millions from an allegedly corrupt Russian pipeline deal, saying it is ‘the final nail in the coffin’ for the project planned for the city.

The reports come from an investigation being led by the BBC Panorama team and The Guardian newspaper into the Pandora Papers, a leak of 11.9 million offshore files obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICJ).

The new revelations raises serious questions over whether a reported £72m Fedotov made through an allegedly corrupt company made its way to the heart of the British government and has influenced its decision to give the Russian-born AQUIND co-owner’s infrastructure project the green light or not.

Alexander Temerko, who is a friend of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and a co-owner of AQUIND, has together with the company donated £1.1m to the Conservative Party.

Responding to reports, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“This is the final nail in the coffin for AQUIND.

“I’ve repeatedly raised concerns about the company’s opaque finances and the directors’ cosy relationships with Conservative Ministers as part of wider objections to the project. It’s now clear these concerns are well founded.

“The Business Secretary must immediately stop AQUIND once and for all. Government should also get on with implementing the recommendations of the Russia report to ensure our country is protected from interference from foreign powers.”

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‘New data shows Portsmouth South needs levelling up’ says City MP

A new survey has revealed that the Portsmouth South constituency is officially in need of levelling up.

The research, conducted by consultants WPI Strategy, ranked 573 parliamentary constituencies in England and Wales based on key indicators of wealth, health and deprivation, with Portsmouth coming in at 160.

Spending power, gauging employment and wage data, and financial dependency, including those on jobseekers and Universal Credit, were roughly in line with national averages, but Portsmouth South was 30% higher than the England and Wales average on crime and deprivation.

Perhaps most concerningly, Portsmouth South ranked in the bottom 20 constituencies in all of England and Wales on health, based on the number of GPs and the average life expectancy for the area.

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

“That our community needs levelling up is a surprise only to government ministers. These figures are exactly why I have made crime, deprivation, and health my priorities as the city’s MP.

“I’ve consistently raised concerns about access to GPs and dentists, called for fairer funding for our police service and continue to point out that Tory tax rises are clobbering working people in Portsmouth.

“It’s clear that the government’s approach to levelling up is based only on their political ambitions, not a genuine desire to support our city.

“In the coming weeks Ministers will have the chance to put their money where their mouths are. Government should back Portsmouth’s Levelling Up bid and invest in our city if they want to start making a real difference in people’s day-to-day lives.”

The city MP has been lobbying Government not to forget Portsmouth and invest in the city’s infrastructure as communities recover from the pandemic.

This has included writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer about a range of regeneration projects in the constituency needing government support, and has recently put pressure on Ministers to finally announce future funding for local communities.

 

 

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Statement from City MP at ‘Stop Aquind’ Guildhall Square protest

Today (Saturday 2 October 2021) local people gathered at the Guildhall Square for the latest ‘Stop AQUIND’ public event.

For the event, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“My thanks to all of you for your hard work and determination to keep pressure on this Conservative government to make sure they put an end to this disastrous project for our city.

“AQUIND is a project that’s mired in Tory cronyism, offering nothing for our city, but bringing with it untold disruption to our daily lives and damage to our precious natural environment.

“From my 6,200 signature public petition that was signed by local people and submitted to Parliament last month, to the open letter from our local paper delivered to the Business Secretary just yesterday, one thing is clear.

“The people of Portsmouth are united. The AQUIND Interconnector Project must be stopped.

“If the decision does not go our city’s way, the council must take the fight immediately to a judicial review. It is in their power to start that work, and to start it now. Let’s use today’s event to tell the council they must now do so now.

“From its outset, I have been and will continue to be by your side. I have written a string of letters to Ministers, tabled a range of parliamentary questions and submitted evidence to the planning inspectorate detailing our shared concerns.

“It cannot be right that a decision that will acutely affect the people of Portsmouth will be made hundreds of miles away behind a desk in Whitehall.

“Despite this being a government of dither and delay, Kwasi Kwarteng cannot keep running forever from the main task he was put in the job to do: make decisions.

“But it’s high time now this crony government finally listened to our concerns.

“The Business Secretary must provide certainty to the thousands of city residents whose daily lives will be affected by this disastrous project.

“Government has the power to stop AQUIND. Its high time Tory Ministers do so.”

 

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Emergency action must be taken by the Prime Minister to tackle ongoing food and fuel shortages say Labour

The Government must take “emergency action” to get a grip on the HGV driver shortage that is causing chaos for families across the UK, Labour has warned.

Keir Starmer has challenged the Prime Minister to:

  • Get petrol to stations in areas of the country most in need now by using the military they’ve got on standby as an emergency measure
  • Ask stations where there is supply to extend opening hours to help NHS shift workers and other key workers
  • Recall parliament so we can issue the visas we need now for short-term capacity and make sure there is a plan to secure supply chains for the Winter
  • Hold an emergency summit of the road haulage industry, training providers, affected business groups, Government ministers and transport unions to focus on the immediate crisis and on finally addressing the pay, terms, training, licensing and conditions of drivers which has led to such serious labour shortages.

The Government has been criticised by many sectors for failing to plan for, and deal with, supply chain issues.

Ministers announced on 26 September a policy to provide 5,000 new visas for HGV drivers through the Temporary Workers’ Scheme. But nothing has happened.

Advice received from parliamentary clerks on the Government’s suggested legislative solution that would give themselves the legal powers needed – via a “statement of change” to the Immigration Rules – are only able to be issued whilst the House is sitting.

Keir Starmer MP, said:

“We’re going to see this driver shortage problem coming back again in different sectors. And I don’t want people in this country to have another Christmas ruined by this Prime Minister’s lack of planning.

“By the Government’s own admission, their scheme won’t be up and running for weeks with the first HGV drivers not on the roads until November. This simply isn’t good enough.

“Every day wasted is prolonging this crisis. The Government has been talking about issuing visas but still hasn’t done anything. Meanwhile our essential workers are struggling to get to work and families face a cost of living crisis.

“The Prime Minister should be taking emergency action today but yet again he’s failed to grasp the seriousness of the crisis. If it needs legislation, then let’s recall Parliament to get these emergency measures through urgently.

“The Prime Minister promised to save Christmas last year and we all know that went disastrously wrong. Now he’s making the same empty promises again. Boris Johnson was warned about this crisis and he did nothing about it. He had the chance to make a plan but ignored it. The Prime Minister needs to get a grip.”

Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, added:

“The country is in desperate need of leadership to contain this chaos, yet it is Tory complacency that has led to the fuel crisis, energy costs crisis, and supply chain crisis.

 “Ministers have been ignoring warnings from businesses and failing to plan ahead and government  decision-making is now making the situation worse for our city.

“The Prime Minister must get a grip and address the huge shortfall of HGV drivers that is causing mayhem in our supply chains.”

The Portsmouth MP is calling for government to urgently address the HGV driver shortfall, including referring the issue of adding HGV drivers to the Shortage Occupation List to the Migration Advisory Committee to provide advice to government to help address the crisis in the short-term, and to set up a taskforce to work sector by sector to identify gaps and recruit into key roles.

This should include rapidly expanding testing for HGV drivers, and part or wholly funding HGV training drawing on available funding for targeted sectors and recruiting. The Government should also support 100,000 new apprentices this financial year to help boost employment in key sectors. 

 

 

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‘Britain will be remade’ – Portsmouth MP reacts to Labour leader’s vision for the country

Stephen Morgan MP has thrown his weight behind the vision for the country outlined in Keir Starmer’s leader’s speech at Labour Party conference today.

The Labour leader underlined that a government led by him as Prime Minister will be focused on “Work. Care. Equality. Security.”

During his speech, Mr Starmer set out what he sees are the major challenges Britain faces for the future, including “how we emerge from the biggest pandemic in a century. How we make our living in a competitive world. The climate crisis. Our relationship with Europe. The future of our union.”

He also announced that with Labour in power, his government would deliver Labour’s ‘National Excellence Programme,’ an ambitious school improvement plan, putting state education at the heart of his vision for Britain.

It marks Labour’s shift to focus on improving the prospects of the 40 per cent of young people who leave compulsory education without essential qualifications.

The National Excellence Programme will include:

  • recruiting thousands of new teachers to address vacancies and skills gaps across the profession;
  • reforming Ofsted to focus on supporting struggling schools;
  • providing teachers and headteachers with continuing professional development and leadership skills training.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented,

“Keir’s speech marks a radical departure from what people have heard from Labour in recent years. A Labour government, under his leadership, will retool Britain for the future and make this nation anew.

“The Conservatives are responsible for short-term failures and long-term neglect. Their political response of the moment has been lamentable failure to meet the scale of the challenge.

“Keir’s principles of security, work, care and equality will be the guiding light for a Labour government to deliver a better future for Portsmouth and a Britain that will be remade.”

In addition, Keir Starmer announced in his speech that:

  • Labour will undertake a national mission for greener homes and lower bills. Labour will upgrade the 19 million homes that fall below energy efficiency standards (EPC C).
  • Provide grants to low-income households and low interest loans to those able to pay to cover the cost of retrofitting. Households will pay no upfront costs, and see their bills fall immediately. Support up to 500,000 good, unionised jobs in a range of industries by the mid-decade.
  • Work with local and combined authorities, and the private sector, to recruit and train staff to coordinate and deliver a decade-long upgrade to Britain’s housing stock.

During 2021 Labour Party conference, it was also announced that Labour will:

  • Guarantee mental health treatment within a month for all who need it, setting a new NHS target, ensuring that patients start receiving appropriate treatment – not simply an initial assessment of needs – within a month of referral.
  • Recruit 8,500 new staff so that one million additional people can  every year by the end of Labour’s first term in office.
  • Put an open access mental health hub for children and young people in every community, providing early intervention, drop-in services.

A number of other announcements were also made at this conference previously reported on Stephen’s website.

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Labour’s policing plans would see a ‘new era’ of community safety for Portsmouth – City MP

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed new plans that the next Labour Government would bring back neighbourhood policing to tackle the epidemic of anti-social behaviour, saying it would bring about a ‘new era’ for community safety.

The Portsmouth MP has long called for changes to local police funding and a boost to police numbers to tackle anti-social behaviour and violence against women and girls.

Accusing the Conservatives of being “soft on crime and soft on causes on crime”, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds will announce Labour’s new plans for increased visible policing, including:

  • An increased police presence in communities with the national rollout of Police Hubs, each with its own Neighbourhood Prevention Team to ensure anti-social behaviour and other crimes in the communities are tackled quickly;
  • Police Hubs, located in visible and accessible places in communities, providing a place the public can go to talk to the police and other agencies in person about their concerns in an area;
  • Neighbourhood Prevention Teams bringing together police, community support officers, youth workers and local authority staff to tackle anti-social behaviour at source. They will be connected into a next generation neighbourhood watch, which will bring people together to share advice and information about their area through online networks and backed with a tough approach to closing down drug dens;
  • A major recruitment drive to increase the number of Special Constables, whose numbers have fallen sharply since 2010; and
  • A new Child Exploitation Register for those convicted of modern slavery offences linked to county lines drug dealing.

Since 2010, the Conservatives have slashed police funding by £1.6 billion and cut thousands of police from our streets.

Meanwhile, recent research from the Labour Party has revealed there are 708 fewer police officers on the frontline in Hampshire than in 2010. There are also 110 fewer community support officers (PCSOs) in Hampshire police force area.

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

“For years now, maintaining community safety in Portsmouth has become increasingly challenging as local services continue to experience chronic underfunding and support.

“A Labour government would see an end to this, putting police back on our streets, with stronger powers to keep our communities safe.

“I’ve committed to making our city safer a top priority of mine and these plans implemented with Labour in power will enable us to see that change and bring about a new era of community safety in Portsmouth.”

In addition to making the city safer a ‘top priority’, Mr Morgan has also launched a city-wide survey to better understand local views and challenges for antisocial behaviour and public safety in Portsmouth, regularly met with police to discuss issues and concerns, as well as campaigning for fairer funding for Hampshire Constabulary.

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Labour’s £35 million support fund for British veterans and Afghan interpreters ‘critical’– Portsmouth MP

Stephen Morgan has labelled Labour’s recently announced £35 million fund to support British veterans and Afghan interpreters as ‘critical’.

The policy was announced by Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey in his Party conference speech today (Monday 27 September).

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. 

Mr Healey is the first Shadow Defence Secretary to address the party’s conference since 2016, signalling Labour’s renewed focus on the defence and security of the nation.

The new cash comes as calls to veterans’ 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.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that some of the 1,200 ARAP-eligible Afghans that were made it out of Kabul are stranded in unsuitable accommodation, and councils have requested more funds to support them.

Commenting on the announcement, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The government’s woeful mismanagement of the Afghanistan crisis has undermined the professionalism shown by our armed forces. Its recent announcement for mental health funding falls far short of what is necessary.

“A Labour government would deliver the support that’s required for those who have served in Afghanistan, instead of allowing demands on charities providing mental health support for veterans to skyrocket.

“Service personnel and veterans show immense courage in serving our country. It’s time they had a government that had the courage to serve them too.”

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey, also said:

“The Conservatives are failing our forces. Recent funding announcements are simply a drop in the ocean and the uncertainty surrounding future funding for the Office of Veterans Affairs has pulled the rug from under our personnel when they need it most.

“Labour’s new support fund will make sure we protect those who protected us.”

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‘A step in the right direction ‘– City MP reacts to new government strategy to record veteran suicides

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed the government’s recently announced strategy to record veteran suicides in England and Wales, labelling it as a ‘step in the right direction’.

The Portsmouth representative has campaigned for veteran suicide figures to be recorded for a number of years, including through securing a parliamentary debate on the issue, writing a string of letters to government ministers and submitting a range of parliamentary questions.

The city MP has also worked alongside local veterans’ charities, including ‘All Call Signs’, who have also been calling for a similar initiative to be brought forward.

For the first time, the new method will capture the numbers of ex-service personnel who take their lives and will be recorded officially by the government, following an agreement between the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA), the MOD and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The data will be used to further understand where there is a need for dedicated services in England and Wales. The data will allow the government to ensure that these targeted services are signposted to veterans, where they are needed most.

It is expected that the first annual statistics will be published in 2023.

To better understand the lives lost prior to 2022, the government is also conducting a 10 year look back to examine veteran deaths through suicide. This research will be published in 2022.

It comes after the government included in its Armed Forces Bill, which the Portsmouth MP led the Official Opposition’s response to, that local authorities would have a ‘due regard’ to support veterans and armed forces communities.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It is welcome that after years of campaigning alongside Portsmouth veterans’ charities and others that this strategy has finally been announced.

“It is a step in the right direction to work towards providing targeted support for veterans’ families that need it most.

“However, given the widely expected toll the pandemic and multiple lockdowns will have had on veterans and their families, it is deeply disappointing to learn that annual figures will not be available until as late as 2023.

“Government inaction to bring this forward will have real impacts on service families, and had it been brought forward earlier, the support for those who most need it right now could have got it. Instead, they’ll have to wait because of government indecision.

“I will continue to take action and stand up for service families to ensure they get the support they both need and deserve.”

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Shadow Schools Minister and City MP visit Portsmouth Academy to launch digital education drive

Shadow Schools Minister Peter Kyle and City MP Stephen Morgan have visited The Portsmouth Academy as the secondary school launched an innovative digital education initiative.

The one:one device scheme will give children access to safe, affordable, state of the art laptops for use at home and school. All 250 Year 7 students at the academy now have their own devices to support and enrich their learning across the curriculum.

The MPs saw how the scheme gives teachers more flexibility in the classroom, freeing them from ‘the front’ and increasing the amount of individual support they can provide to students, particularly those who need additional support.

The scheme is part of a city-wide commitment to make Portsmouth a ‘digital city’ over the coming years, improving student attainment by shattering the digital divide and engaging parents in their child’s learning.

The Thinking Schools Academy Trust, of which Portsmouth Academy is part, is working with the City Council to produce a similar digital strategy for all 62 schools and colleges in Portsmouth.

The Portsmouth MP is keen to make sure the scheme is accessible to all local families and will be watching its development with interest.

The pair also met with local Nature Premium campaigners to hear about improving access to wildlife for young people in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“I want every young person in Portsmouth to succeed at school wherever they are from, and whatever their background. Key to unlocking that potential is making sure all pupils have access to good quality and affordable technology.

“The pandemic shone a spotlight on the inequality and unfairness we see in today’s society, with many young people falling through the gaps and victims of the digital divide.

“It was a pleasure to visit Portsmouth Academy to hear how they are addressing this, see first-hand how young people are benefiting as a result, and showcase this to the Shadow Schools Minister in his first visit since taking up the post.

Portsmouth has the opportunity to lead a digital learning revolution. As online learning is becoming a daily reality for children across our city, I will watch with interest to make sure this scheme delivers both for the pupils who need it and struggling local families.”

Natalie Sheppard, Director of Education at the Portsmouth Hub, Thinking Schools Academy Trust, said:

“In Portsmouth, we are passionate about improving life chances for young people and know that technology is key to helping students gain the skills to thrive in a modern world. Schools across the city are working together to bring our collective vision of making Portsmouth an Edtech city to life. By collaborating and sharing our expertise and learning, we can use technology to enhance teaching and learning for all our young people across the city.

“It was fantastic to showcase to our MP and the Shadow Schools Minister how these concepts are working in practice and highlight some of the great work taking place at schools across Portsmouth. To be one of the key parties involved in leading such a ground-breaking project for the city is an honour and our team are driven to future-proof students for their careers by teaching them essential tech skills. With the programme gaining real momentum, we are greatly appreciative of the support of Mr Morgan and Mr Kyle.”