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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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‘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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ENERGY PRICE CRISIS: City MP slams Government’s cost of living ‘triple whammy’ for local families

Stephen Morgan MP has slammed the government’s triple whammy on millions of families who are set to be squeezed by rising energy prices, an increase in national insurance and the cut to Universal Credit. 

Four in ten households on Universal Credit are facing a 13 per cent rise in their energy bills in the same month as their benefit is cut by £20 a week.

In the Portsmouth representative’s constituency alone, 5,550 families will be affected by the cut, including 6,907 children.

According to Citizens Advice, the £20 a week uplift would cover near a whole week of energy costs for a below average income household.

It is also estimated that the rise in the energy price cap means half a million more families will be plunged into fuel poverty.

In addition, according to analysis by the New Economics Foundation, 2.5 million families will be hit by both the cut to Universal Credit and the increase in national insurance. On average, they will lose out by £1,290 in 2022/​23.

The Portsmouth MP has backed a call for the Government to protect family finances before it’s too late – by cancelling the cut, dropping the tax rises on working people and businesses, and urgently exploring further measures to help households alleviate the cost of rising bills, including the option of making automatic and extending the Warm Homes Discount.

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

“Portsmouth families are facing a cruel triple whammy that will hit them in their pockets: rising energy prices, rising taxes, and a £1,000 cut to universal credit.  

“This Government says it is on the side of working people and families, yet it is doubling down on decisions that will impact thousands of local families and plunge half a million more households into fuel poverty. It’s completely indefensible.

“I will continue to take action and stand up for those most at risk in our city as we head towards winter.”

Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband added: 

“It is a fundamental failure of long-term Government planning over the last decade that we are so exposed and vulnerable as a country to soaring gas prices and it is families that are now paying the price.” 

In his latest intervention in a series of actions on this issue, Mr Morgan has written to the Work and Pensions Secretary urging her to cancel the cut to Universal Credit and protect vulnerable families in Portsmouth.  

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Portsmouth MP steps in to progress Fratton Park infrastructure plans in meeting with PFC and Network Rail

Stephen Morgan MP has stepped up his continued efforts to support development proposals at Fratton Park and improve access to the stadium by bringing together representatives of Portsmouth Football Club and Network Rail.

Portsmouth Football Club said in June this year that the club was “in dialogue with local government about much needed infrastructure improvements in the local vicinity to facilitate access to the stadium along the key transportation routes to Fratton Park.”

The city MP has been calling for some time for the city council to play an active part in supporting the club to get its development plans off the ground, at a time when government is making money available for regeneration.

In a summit set up this week, representatives of Network Rail and Portsmouth Football Club met with the Portsmouth MP at Fratton station for a meeting, which included a walk around the site to better understand access challenges from the station on match days and wider congestion issues.

The group agreed a set of ideas and took away a number of actions to improve links to the stadium, as well as wider future rail investment plans for Portsmouth and the region.

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

“For me, our club’s success is our city’s success and as we recover from this crisis it’s vital we see the investment that’s needed to improve connectivity and access to Fratton Park, which will be critical for securing the city’s future prosperity.

“I was glad to facilitate discussions between the club and Network Rail and I was encouraged to see some progress made on this issue which has been stalling for some time now.

“I will continue to do all I can to support the club’s ambitions for this project and will be urging the city council to do so too to help make these plans a reality for fans.”

Andrew Cullen, Chief Executive of Portsmouth Football Club, added,

“We are extremely grateful for both the keen interest and support that Stephen Morgan MP continues to invest in the proposals for the future development of Fratton Park and the associated impact on local transport and infrastructure.

“We look forward to further discussions with all the various stakeholders to shape and deliver an exciting and inspiring future, both for the football club and the city of Portsmouth.”

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City MP votes against government Bill to raise National Insurance as Labour offers alternative vision for Social Care

Stephen Morgan MP has voted against a government Bill that will raise National Insurance for local working families as Labour sets out its alternative vision for social care reforms.

The Health and Social Care Levy Bill, which is being debated in the House of Commons today before votes this evening, would raise National Insurance by 1.25% for working families and businesses across the country.

The government legislation is facing wide-ranging criticism for how the social care reforms will be funded, particularly for those on low income.

Under current proposals, a graduate on a typical entry level salary would a pay marginal tax rate of almost 50%.

In addition, The British Chamber of Commerce, Make UK, the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses have all slammed the government’s suggested solution to the social care crisis as harmful for businesses and for our economic recovery, with the FSB saying it will lead to 50,000 fewer jobs being created.

Labour has set an alternative plan, which would:

  • Give older and disabled people the chance to live the life they choose, shifting the focus of support towards prevention and early help.
  • Ensure every older and disabled person who needs care and support gets it when and where they need it, improving their lives and delivering better value for taxpayers’ money and;
  • Build a strong and skilled social care workforce, with a new deal for care workers to create a well-motivated, skilled and properly rewarded workforce, with more support for unpaid carers

The member of parliament of Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented:

“When it comes to social care, for many, it’s personal. This is about services for our loved ones. Our friends. Our neighbours.

“For me, it was the lack of social care available for my grandad that was one of the key reasons I put myself forward for public office.

“The barriers to access affordable social care for people like him was unacceptable then, and it’s unacceptable now.

“That’s why I voted against these deeply regressive proposals today and will continue to fight on behalf of local people for the better access to the vital services they need.”

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Reactive statement to social care reform proposals – Stephen Morgan MP

Responding to the government’s announcement on funding for social care today, the member of parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The social care system is in crisis, but the government’s manifesto breaking proposals to fund its reforms would hit working people hardest, particularly low earners, young people and businesses still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic.

“The fairest way to pay for social care is through progressive taxation, not a rise to national insurance that is not only morally backward, but economically too.

“I have written to the Prime Minister, launched a city-wide survey and hosted a local meeting with the Shadow Minister responsible on this issue. I am also currently holding roundtable meetings with care providers and service users and I will continue to ensure the government produces the comprehensive response this crisis demands.

“Portsmouth and the wider country have for too long needed a clear and long-term plan that is serious about fixing the social care crisis quickly, not one that kicks the can down the road.”

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Stephen Morgan MP raises concerns over access to city’s healthcare following survey  

Stephen Morgan MP has once again raised concerns that a worrying number of people in Portsmouth are not getting access to GP care when they need it, following a new survey being published. 

 

Responses to the GP patient survey showed that 14.9% of patients surveyed in Portsmouth said they ‘did not find it easy to get through to their GP practice on the telephone’, and 17% of patients either ‘were not given an appointment or were unable to take up the appointment they were offered’. In addition, 6.4% in Portsmouth said it was ‘not easy to use their practice’s website’ to access information they needed.

  

The most deprived areas in the country have poorer access to healthcare and poorer health. The poorest areas have fewer GPs per head, and nationally, GPs working in the most-deprived areas of England get 7 per cent less funding per patient than those in more affluent areas. Men living in the least deprived communities can expect to live 9.4 years longer than those in the most deprived, with the gap around 7.4 years for women.

 

These figures reflect increasing concerns being raised by constituents in the city MP’s postbag which is why he has lobbied the Health Secretary to tackle the issue, written to the local decision-makers and has vowed to take further action when Parliament returns. 

 

According to latest data, 5.5 million people are currently on waiting lists for vital medical treatment – with numbers at a record high for three consecutive months.

 

Labour says the Government’s Health and Care Bill does nothing to tackle waiting times or improve access to healthcare in communities that need it, including in Portsmouth. 

 

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

“It’s really concerning that patients in Portsmouth are struggling to see their GP and get the care and information that they need. 

 

“Primary care is essential to keeping people in Portsmouth healthy and patients must be put first. 

“Government need to ensure that local GP services are accessible to all in our community and are properly resourced, so that everyone is able to see a doctor when they need to. 

“I will continue to take action on our city’s concerns by raising these matters with Ministers”.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth MP said:

“It’s unacceptable that patients are unable to see their GP particularly in poorer areas thanks to years of Tory underfunding and cuts. 

 

“Instead of investing sufficiently in general practice, Sajid Javid is embarking on a top-down reorganisation of the NHS that imposes a tight financial straight jacket on local areas while side-lining family doctors.

 

“Ministers should put patients first, and expand access to health care to bring waiting lists down rather than a distracting NHS restructuring.”

Mr Morgan has previously demanded the government ‘cuts the rhetoric’ and supports the NHS after research from his office showed the number of people waiting for treatment in Portsmouth had continued to rise.