MP Update – 4th May

MP Update No.297NEWS AND COMMENT FROM CHRIS LESLIE Friday 4th May 2018(for more news also see my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chrislesliemp)

Nottingham News

  • Yesterday’s Health Service Journal reported that the Nottingham Treatment Centre at QMC Hospital may not be put out for re-tendering for a further year. The current operator with the contract – Circle – have started a legal challenge to the decision by the NHS Clinical Commissioners on the grounds that the proposed massive cut in procurement proposed would severely damage service quality and could not maintain existing services. The Commissioners seem to be arguing that the contract price proposal reflects ‘savings and efficiencies’ but in reality this could lead to a major downgrade in the number of operations and investigations that local patients can access.This feels like a back-door attempt to cut our health service provision, under the guise of a re-contracting exercise and I am deeply unhappy with the way this is being pursued. The Treatment Centre undertakes important elective services for outpatients, surgery, testing and pregnancy services and this facility is really important to people living in Nottingham East. I will be pressing the NHS Commissioners to set out clearly whether they can guarantee the existing level of health outcomes for Nottingham patients and if not, to be specific about which services will be at risk.
  • We’ve had some extremely disappointing news yesterday from Virgin Media who have announced their intention to leave the ‘Diamond Plaza’ offices on Daleside Road where 210 customer service staff currently work. I have spoken with management at Virgin Media and expressed my concern at the decision especially because they are consulting on a reduction in staffing down to just 70 people retained in different premises in Nottingham, which 80 of the posts will be relocated ‘offshore’. This will be a bitter blow for many constituents who work at the site. Sadly there is no officially recognised trade union representation and so I have sought assurances about the need for full consultation, a willingness to listen to staff about alternative proposals but also full support for retraining, relocation and redeployment. Virgin Media say this is part of a rationalisation of their estate nationwide and a shift from eight to four consolidated call centre locations. I will do whatever I can to help the affected employees through this difficult period.
  • The government’s visa cap is causing staffing issues at Nottingham University Hospitals. According to the Director of Human Resources at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust the cap has been a problem for the trust since it came in at the end of last year. The trust relies of doctors from outside the EU but has had 18 certificates of sponsorship for doctors turned down, including every application they made in March. This has left real gaps in their rotas and skill shortages in certain areas. The HR Director noted  ‘we try and fill that gap with agency locums but we are under pressure to reduce our locum spend as well. Overseas doctors are a critical part of our workforce’.
  • My thanks to the staff and students at the University of Nottingham School of Mathematical Sciences for hosting my visit today. I tried my best to keep up with their explanation of quantum theory (!) but it was crystal clear that their postgraduate and PhD research activities have very real and applied relevance to the community, whether in helping with environmental sustainability or new communications technology. We should be very proud to have such a leading facility in our city and it is a pity that some of the ERC European-funded research grants are in doubt should Brexit go ahead. It was also good to meet with undergraduate maths students (pictured below) to hear of their experiences studying at the University and living in Nottingham.

Univ of Nottingham Mathematics Department visit May 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Nottingham City Council plan to invest £25,000 as part of improvements to the Clinton Street market area, which is opposite intu Victoria Centre. The area is used by around 15 street traders. The council said it hoped to create a better environment by installing street art, improving lighting and creating a seating area. However this proposals could mean an increase in the rent paid by market traders – from £35 a day to £55 a day.
  • Over £150,000 worth of funding has been offered by the Heritage Lottery to restore an empty Grade II listed building in the Lace Market. The People’s Building in Heathcoat Street applied for the funding in February 2016 in order to create an enterprise hub in the building. This development has the potential to open up 6,000 square ft of commercial floor space. Councillor Jane Urquhart, portfolio holder for planning, housing and heritage, said: “This funding to develop an Enterprise Hub in the People’s Hall will not only protect an at risk grade II* listed building but it will also go towards generating additional jobs and business growth”. She added: “This funding will allow the property, which is in a key area of the city, to be brought back into use and that is great news. The council is committed to protecting the city’s historic buildings and safeguarding our heritage, so securing this funding go towards doing just that.”

 

National & International News

  • The week began with the resignation of Home Secretary Amber Rudd in the wake of the Windrush generation scandal and subsequent questioning from the Home Affairs Select Committee, where my colleague Yvette Cooper questioned her about regional Home Office targets for the deportation of illegal migrants. Amber Rudd had denied these targets existed, but it was clear she misled the committee and resigned as a result. Her replacement – Sajid Javid – has pledged to stop pursuing the “hostile environment” policy which created a climate where perfectly legal, but undocumented, residents started to find themselves excluded from services or even having their residency status threatened. Time will tell whether Javid offers any improvement in Home Office policy, though he is already tilting the key Cabinet committees towards a ‘hard Brexit’ outcome by most accounts.
  • On Thursday local government elections were held in 150 councils across England, including all London authorities but the nearest to us to place in Derby, Lincoln and Amber Valley. The results are not fully available at the time of writing this, but this afternoon Labour had gained 50 council seats, the Conservatives 13 seats , LibDems 33 seats and UKIP lost 111 seats. It is difficult to draw many conclusions given that only some areas were voting and others not, but they appear to be a mixed set of outcomes with Labour retaining the London boroughs held, winning Plymouth but losing Derby and Nuneaton & Bedworth. I hope that there will be clearer analysis of the underlying factors for these results in the coming days,
  • On Monday evening the House of Lords voted convincingly in favour of a cross-party amendment to make sure MPs get a genuinely meaningful vote on whatever the Prime Minister’s final proposed deal. Once again the majority was boosted by a number of senior Tories, including some former Cabinet Ministers, rebelling against the Prime Minister’s position. This underlines the heartfelt resistance that exists across the party lines in Parliament. A take-it-or-leave it vote would be to restrict the options truly available for the country. It is therefore vital that we keep open the option of extending negotiations or putting any deal back to the British public. I only hope that the many Conservative MPs who agree, and know full well how economically bad this situation would be, find the courage to speak up in the coming months.
  • On Tuesday the Government accepted an amendment put down by my colleague Margaret Hodge and the Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell which will force British overseas territories to publish registers of company ownership. The amendment is designed to help get a grip on the huge global flows of ‘dirty money’ resting unaccountably in tax havens. This was a targeted and thoughtful amendment, on a cause which commands huge public sympathy, and I was very happy to see Ministers recognise the strength of cross-party support behind tackling the issue.
  • MPs are still waiting to see if the Cabinet can agree a customs policy, more than a year after the triggering of the Article 50 process. Rather than recognise that there is a parliamentary majority in the Commons for Britain’s participation in a Customs Union, the Cabinet are trying to defy reality and dream up a have-cake-and-eat-it approach. This is most acute on the question of the Irish border. Ministers admit that the ‘maximum facilitation’ option still requires new camera infrastructure and check points. The ‘customs partnership’ theory would require Britain to administer a dual set of customs policies – one for the UK and one for the EU – but also need the EU to do similarly. Both have been dismissed as unworkable by the European side of the negotiations. Instead of delaying the vote, the Prime Ministers should bite the bullet and allow MPs to decide.

 

What do you think?On Wednesday the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt disclosed to MPs that a major NHS IT error had resulted in 450,000 women not being called in for vital breast cancer screenings. This is a hugely alarming announcement, with the suggestion that ‘between 135 and 270 women’ may have had their lives shortened as a consequence. The Health Secretary has now commissioned an inquiry, to be chaired by the chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, Lynda Thomas, to establish precisely how this tragedy could have happened. It aims to report back in six months and I will of course study its findings closely.This was probably the most shocking news item of this week – and it deserved to have had more media attention. I would be interested to know if you are aware of anybody locally who might have been affected by this failure so that I can get a sense of the specific issues I should press the Department for Health to answer. In the first instance, anyone who feels they may be affected should contact the dedicated national helpline on 0800 169 2692.In general, do you feel that the NHS locally provide adequate information and notifications to patients about possible treatments, screening or information about results when these are available? Do you receive the right choices for future appointments or appropriate feedback and data as a patient? Keeping people informed of their health circumstances and rights should be a key part of the work of the NHS.

 

RegardsChris LeslieLabour & Co-operative Party MP for Nottingham East
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