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City MP labels PM as ‘far too slow’ and ‘letting business down’ as Covid restrictions extended

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government for giving one week’s warning to the country that national Covid-19 restrictions will be extended by four weeks.

Since the emergence of the Delta or ‘Indian variant’, cases of Covid-19 have been on the rise, with concerns if infections levels are not brought under control, too much pressure could be put on NHS capacity.

Since 11 May, the rate of cases per 100,000 over a 7-day period in the UK has risen from 22.4 to 67.5, according to the latest available data published by the government.

Meanwhile in Portsmouth, over the same period, the rate of cases per 100,000 has risen from 7.9 to 28.4.

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

“The Prime Minister promised us a way out of this. With the delta variant now dominant in the UK, and 73 per cent of delta cases in unvaccinated people, ministerial incompetence has sadly led us to this decision.

“The government has acted far too late, leaving businesses and others in Portsmouth incredibly anxious while they wait on the government that for too long dithered and delayed to make this decision.

“We must be driven by the data on decisions like these, but it has come far too late.”

The Portsmouth MP has also been contacted by a number of constituents on the impact of the government’s decision on the wedding industry.

The local representative added:

“The hospitality industry is likely to be one of the worst affected industries by today’s announcement, with a quarter of the industry still closed.

“I know from my postbag many are also concerned by the impact this decision could have on their businesses involved in the wedding industry, and I will continue to do all I can to secure the support and greater certainty they need.”

Mr Morgan has vowed to continue to engage a range of local businesses on the impact of the government roadmap and lifting of restrictions.

 

 

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Portsmouth MP joins 200 politicians urging Prime Minister to secure future of Covid memorial wall

Stephen Morgan MP has joined 227 MPs, Peers and Mayors to write to the Prime Minister urging him to support the campaign for the Covid Memorial Wall in London to become a permanent site.

The letter is spearheaded by Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton, who lost his mum and both his parents-in-law to coronavirus and has been working with Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice on securing the future of the wall.

The Covid Memorial Wall, with its endless line of hand-drawn red hearts, has engulfed the wall opposite Parliament since March as bereaved families visited the site to add messages for their loved ones. It has since become a place for people to come together, to reflect on the tragedy of what has happened, and to begin to heal.

The letter states: “Given the poignancy of this site, the need to give grieving families a place to mourn their loved ones, and your previous commitment to a national Covid memorial, we, the undersigned, support calls to make this wall of hearts a, if not the, permanent memorial to the victims of the pandemic.”

Among the signatories of this letter are over 160 MPs from across the House of Commons as well as numerous members of the House of Lords. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and Florence Eshalomi MP, in whose constituency the wall resides, are also signatories.

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

“This site of remembrance, developed and created by bereaved families, is a powerful reminder of human cost of the pandemic.

“Many people in Portsmouth, like thousands across the country, have suffered immense loss during this part year.

“My thoughts are with all those grieving loved ones and with our healthcare staff who have worked tirelessly to save so many lives.

“Having visited the memorial myself and seen how it has helped those grieving, I am proud to support this campaign to secure the future of the Covid Memorial Wall and will continue to work with bereaved families to ensure their voices and wishes are heard.”

Afzal Khan MP, added,

“The Covid Memorial Wall is an extraordinary site and deeply moving. I had the privilege to visit the site last month where I left messages to remember my mum and both my parents-in-law whose lives were so cruelly cut short by this virus. I hope one day to be able to bring my children and grandchildren to see these messages and the wall for themselves.

“It is fantastic to see such support across Parliament and the country for this campaign, it just goes to show that while we may not always be united in our politics, we are all united in our grief for those lost to the pandemic.”

Matt Fowler, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, also said,

“The Memorial Wall has brought many thousands of bereaved families across the country together in ways that we could never have imagined, it’s been utterly overwhelming.

We’ll never get back the people we’ve lost, but having a shared space for our collective memory, to share our loss and our love, has meant so much.

It is unthinkable that the Wall would be taken down, when it is so important, to so many. Seeing this support from MPs across parliament for it to be made permanent has been heartening, and we sincerely hope the Prime Minister will join them.”

The campaign for the National Covid Memorial Wall to remain a permanent site is supported by local MP Florence Eshalomi as well as Lambeth Council.

 

 

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G7 summit: Portsmouth MP grills trade minister on ‘awkward’ government stance on covid vaccines

Stephen Morgan MP demanded answers from the government today in the House of Commons on why it refuses to back an intellectual property waiver on vaccines to help fight the pandemic in the poorest countries.

It comes as the UK is set to host the G7 in Cornwall this week, of which many members are supportive of the proposals, including the US.

Meanwhile, Labour has urged the Prime Minister to ‘get off the fence’ and back calls for a vaccine patent waiver.

The Portsmouth MP has also offered his support to a local group founded by Portsmouth residents called ‘Give a Vaccine’, that recently announced it donated £25,000 to Médecins Sans Frontières, which will be used to vaccinate the most vulnerable against Covid-19 in Lebanon.

The funds will be used to pay for mobile medical teams to vaccinate elderly people and frontline healthcare workers in care homes across Lebanon.

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

“Nobody is safe until we are all safe. It is not only the morally right thing to do to back a vaccine patent waiver, which allows poorer countries around the world to procure vaccines and immunise their own populations, but also because it is in our enlightened self-interest to do so.

“As long as it is prevalent around our evermore interconnected world, there is still the risk of new variants of Covid-19 and infections in the UK.

“The government fails to realise this and is putting our country in a very awkward position as it enters the G7 summit meetings we are set to host this week, while many of its members are supportive of it, such as the US.

“Today I pushed Ministers to clarify their position on the vaccine patent waiver. I will continue to support the fantastic initiatives like ‘Give a Vaccine’ who continue to fill the government’s vacuum of leadership on this.”

Labour recently proposed a 10-point plan to boost global Covid-19 vaccine production. Following the lobbying in Parliament the city MP has vowed to continue to hold the Government to account over its efforts to support the rollout of the vaccine programme elsewhere in the world.

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A time to say thanks: Portsmouth MP celebrates work of local volunteers

Stephen Morgan MP is joining local charities in thanking volunteers for their hard work in supporting people and communities across Portsmouth, as part of Volunteers’ Week 2021.

Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration – now in its 37th year – of the contribution and dedication of millions of volunteers who give up their time in the service of others.

The Portsmouth representative has worked with a wide range of charities supported by local volunteers throughout the lockdown, including HIVE Portsmouth, which has helped to provide food and other essentials for the most vulnerable in the local community, with some of its volunteers also helping to support the local vaccination effort.

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

“Throughout this pandemic, volunteers in Portsmouth have played a crucial role in supporting those most in need.

“They have got on with the job at hand, a lot of the time without praise and expecting nothing in return, to help the most vulnerable in our society. They really are some of the best of us.

“This week, it is important we recognise their incredible dedication this Volunteers’ Week, and say, thank you!”

Sarah Vibert, interim chief executive at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), which supports the coordination of Volunteers’ Week, said:

“Volunteers’ Week is about recognising all of those who have delivered vital work as volunteers over the past 12 months. We should acknowledge the huge number of first-time volunteers in communities around the country, and also say thank you to all those who usually volunteer but have not been able to because of the pandemic.

“Volunteers are always working at the heart of every UK community. It is hard to overstate the incredible impact they have made during an incredibly challenging year.

“The pandemic has highlighted how much we need each other as a society. Charities and volunteering enable us to put that need into action and remain at the heart of our communities through the best and worst times. As a result of the incredible impact that volunteers have had during the pandemic, and continue to have in the recovery efforts, more people than ever are aware of the immense contribution being made every single day by the amazing volunteers across the UK.

“We must ensure this recognition continues. That is why, on this 37th annual Volunteers’ Week, it’s time to say: thank you volunteers!”

Mr Morgan worked alongside HIVE volunteers earlier this year in its work to support the local vaccination effort and wrote out to 50 supermarkets and local stores across Portsmouth, asking them to allow time for Hive volunteers to access priority goods for older people before shelves can be stripped, as well as allowing access to food and essentials at priority times to ensure that foodbank shelves do not become too depleted.

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City MP pipes up on restrictions for choral singers

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has urged the Culture Secretary to provide clinical justification for the decision to limit amateur singing groups to just six people indoors.

Mr Morgan has written to Oliver Dowden following confusion around the restrictions on choral singing in the City and across the country.
Following the easing of restrictions on 17 May, government guidance was updated to clarify that only six amateur singers can meet indoors, while there is no limit on the number of professional singers.

In the letter, Mr Morgan calls out the “double standard” between amateur and professional singers and highlighted a number of much larger performing arts events, including the Brit Awards, that had been allowed to take place safely.

The letter concludes: “I urge you to publish the clinical evidence underpinning the decision to prevent amateur choral singing in groups of more than six people under covid-19 restrictions, and what plans you have to review this.”

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Portsmouth choral singers are understandably keen to return to practice and performance at venues across the City, including our magnificent Cathedrals.

“But new guidelines have created a double standard which does not seem to be backed up by clinical evidence. It’s causing confusion and consternation for our singers.

“I have urged the Culture Secretary to provide the clinical evidence underpinning this decision and hope that larger groups of non-professional singers will be allowed to gather as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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City MP presents Portsmouth’s NHS Parliamentary Award nominees with their certificates

Stephen Morgan MP has met with Portsmouth’s three nominees for the NHS Parliamentary Awards to offer his congratulations and thank them for their hard work and dedication during the pandemic.

Last year Members of Parliament were invited to nominate individuals or an organisation for an NHS Parliamentary Award. The Portsmouth South MP nominated three individuals who went above and beyond to support the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the online event, there was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the staff, who are based at Queen Alexandra Hospital, as well as allowing an opportunity for the nominees to talk to the city MP about their experiences on the frontline.

All three nominees were from the Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust with The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Award nomination going to Clinical Director of Respiratory Medicine Dr Ben Green; The Wellbeing at Work Award nomination going to Respiratory High Care Ward Manager Katrina James; and the Excellence in Healthcare Award nomination going to Consultant Respiratory Physician, Tom Brown.

Chief Nurse Liz Rix also joined the online call to share the impact of the three nominees’ work at QA with Mr Morgan, including Dr Green’s work in driving preparedness plans in the respiratory department in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; Katrina James, who identified the need for a formal end of life process for patients coming off non-invasive ventilation and was praised for her incredible compassion for her patients, their loved ones and her colleagues; and Tom Brown, who became the Trust lead on research trials, reshaped the research team and embedded it as part of routine clinical care.

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

“All our NHS staff, volunteers and society’s carers deserve recognition, but Ben, Katrina and Tom have gone above and beyond the call of duty and their work has had an enormous impact on so many people here in Portsmouth as well as further afield.

“Hearing the tributes they made to their teams and their accounts of the dedication of the staff at QA hospital was inspirational.

“We owe these members of our community a debt of gratitude and I cannot thank them enough for all they have done.”

The city MP separately wrote a formal letter of thanks to each of the nominees. The hope is that next year’s awards will be able to be presented in person.

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Vaccine passports: Portsmouth MP responds

In recent days, many constituents have got in touch with Stephen Morgan MP with their views on the Government considering ‘vaccine passports’.

Responding to concerns, the Portsmouth South representative said:

I do not support domestic vaccine passports. It is not clear so far what the benefits are compared to the risks and costs.

“The British public have already seen what has happened with the Government’s handing out of Covid contracts with the cronyism, as well as poor delivery and value. Ministers mustn’t make these mistakes again.

“What’s more, asking people to produce a vaccine certificate or passport to access pubs or shops is discriminatory and it will add a huge burden to businesses and come at huge cost to the taxpayer.

“Labour wants the Government to get the basics right. That means making sure the vaccine rollout includes young people and there is a focus on vaccine take-up where it is slower so we don’t risk pockets of people exposed to the virus, self-isolation, and contact tracing”.

The Official Opposition have stated that if there was a vote in the House of Commons on vaccine and test certification, based on what has been seen so far, the party would oppose domestic vaccine passports.

Labour has not ruled out testing certification (for example, for large events) but have the same questions around focus, efficacy and value.

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Portsmouth MP pays visit to local Mosque as it joins fight against COVID-19

Stephen Morgan MP visited the Jami Mosque in the heart of Portsmouth today as it opened its doors as a new COVID-19 vaccination centre.

It is expected the vaccination hub will be able to vaccinate over 200 people a day.

It is also hoped by those behind the plan of the Mosque’s involvement that this will dispel false information that is reported to be circulating in some communities, as well as to encourage vaccine take up.

The local centre of worship will be running vaccination sessions every Tuesday from 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm.

The Portsmouth South MP was invited to be one of the first visitors on site to welcome residents to the new pop-up facility and thank those involved in setting up the centre.

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

“I want to thank all the volunteers behind this project. It is really pleasing to be on site as the hub opens to the public today.

“It is so important people take up the offer of the vaccine when they get it. We must not allow misinformation to get in the way of keeping people safe.”

Mr Morgan has previously volunteered with Portsmouth HIVE as part of Portsmouth’s wider vaccination programme in response to COVID-19.

The MP has been working alongside the city’s ethnic minority communities encouraging take up of the vaccine, including supporting a short film to dispel some of the myths about the jab.

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City MP hosts summit with Shadow Health Minister Liz Kendall MP on the future of social care

Stephen Morgan MP is set to host a social care public meeting with Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care Liz Kendall MP on Monday 22 March, 6.30pm-7.30pm.

The online event, which is open to all, will discuss the impact of the pandemic on social care and why social care is set to be this generation’s next challenge.

According to The Kings Fund, only around a quarter of people who have requested some of form of social care are actually assessed as eligible for formal short-term or long-term care.

Meanwhile according to Portsmouth CCG, there is a 69.5% estimated dementia prevalence rate in persons aged 65 and over of the Portsmouth population, underlining the importance of the local provision of social care with the continued trend of an aging general population.

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

This crisis has shone a spotlight on the already chronic issues we are experiencing as a country, no less so than the challenge of the provision of social care.

“It is clear social care is one of our generation’s next great challenges, which is why Labour’s mission is to transform care to make our city and the wider country the best place to grow up in and the best place to grow old in.

“Liz Kendall has done a phenomenal job in her role as Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care and I look forward to Portsmouth people hearing her insights on this important issue that impacts our city’s families.”

The event will take place on Zoom, is free, and open to all. You can sign up for the meeting here.

 

 

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Portsmouth MP praises ‘brilliant’ local COVID-19 testing centre during visit

Stephen Morgan MP has lauded the new COVID-19 testing centre at Portsmouth Guildhall as a ‘brilliant operation’, during a visit earlier today.

The new facility is now offering asymptomatic community testing to anyone who is over the age of 16 who regularly leaves home to go to work, or those not covered by an existing workplace testing programme.

Appointments are available 7 days a week, between 8am and 8pm, and can be booked at short notice.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Asymptomatic testing across our community is going to play a critical role in supporting the fight against COVID-19, right now and in the weeks and months ahead, particularly for those who are unable to work from home.

“The Portsmouth Guildhall testing facility is a brilliant operation and my thanks to all the dedicated staff for getting this up and running.”

According to the latest government figures, the current rate per 100k of positive COVID-19 cases in Portsmouth is 57.7, but the local parliamentary representative has warned that everyone must continue to stick to the COVID-19 rules and restrictions to not undo the progress of the last few months.

Meanwhile from today, many students will be returning to school for the first time in weeks.

The parliamentary representative, added:

 We are making great progress in tackling the spread of this dreadful virus, but as we begin open up society again, it is vital we continue to listen to advice and follow the rules.

“We are so close to overcoming this collective challenge we all share and we must do all we can ensure we do not undo any of the hard work our city has put in over the last few months.”

You can find out more about the testing centre and book an appointment via Portsmouth City Council’s website.