On Tuesday I met with Dr Rashmi Shukla at Public Health England who works on their rural strategy. We discussed the rural workforce and the recent decision by the Department of Health to recruit more GPs into rural areas. I’m glad to see that the Government is starting to realise that recruitment is a problem in rural areas, however we still need a more concrete policy in the long term to make sure it is sustainable.
We also discussed mental health and in particular isolation, which is extremely prevalent in rural areas. They assured me that mental health is a priority for them and they have work in the pipeline to address this. I’ve promised to help them meet the Prime Minister’s target of training 1 million people in the community in mental health first aid.
It was good to meet with the Royal College of Nursing and Carers Trust and the ABPI Vaccine Group this week to get a flu jab. Vaccinations of all types help support good health and reduces the spread of infectious diseases. I would encourage everyone within the constituency, especially those with vulnerable relatives or neighbours to get their flu jabs.
Within the House this week the Nuclear Safeguards Bill came before the Commons for its Second Reading. The aims of the Bill are to create a legal framework to replace our current membership of Euratom as we leave the European Union. Greg Clark confirmed that the Bill is being prepared on a contingency basis and there are ongoing discussions around the UKs continued involvement within Euratom.
Over the recent weeks I know many constituents will have held a Macmillan Coffee Morning to support those with cancer. Here in Parliament we had our very own Coffee Morning hosted by Macmillan. This year the Coffee Morning also marked the launch of Macmillan’s new case study report that focused on the challenges faced by people once their cancer treatment is over.
For many people finishing treatment is the end of one battle and the beginning of another. The Government’s Cancer Strategy contains a commitment to improve the support available and by 2020 everyone diagnosed with cancer will have access to a recovery package. We must make sure those who receive treatment aren’t left on their own once treatment has finished.
Over the past couple of weeks I have had a number of meetings regarding small businesses. This week it was good to see fellow South West MP and Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, pay tribute to small businesses who generate 48% of private sector employment and a third of private sector turnover.
While the Government has taken a number of steps to make it easier for small businesses to operate, there is still more work that needs to be done surrounding business rates. I’ll continue to work with small business to make sure they can continue to provide the economic backbone of rural areas such as ours that are largely populated by small businesses.
There has been a lot of debate this week over Universal Credit. While the rollout isn’t due to occur in our constituency until 2018 I am keen to make sure that when it happens it achieves its aims of simplifying the benefits system, something that all parties agree is a good thing. Whether the Government requires a pause or not to get rid of the problems is something only they know, but the problems currently mean the system is not achieving its aims. If the aims of Universal Credit can’t be met then the something needs to change. There is strong feeling across the House on this issue and the Government must listen.
My next surgery will be at 14:00 in Newton Abbot, on the 27th October. Please call 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.