As we come to the beginning of Conference recess, it has been a busy couple of weeks in Parliament, with, amongst other things, the introduction of the new Health & Care levy and a reshuffle of the Cabinet.
Last week saw Global Britain on full show as the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary headed to the USA for the United Nations General Assembly meeting to discuss a wide range of issues including climate change, foreign policy and the global recovery from Covid-19.
As the new Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, spoke about in an article last week, this UNGA meeting was all about making the case for building deeper economic, diplomatic and security partnerships in order to help us seize the opportunities – and tackle the challenges – of the modern age. One area where this is clear is the recently announced AUKUS deal.
This partnership between the UK, USA and Australia is about enhancing the development of joint capabilities and technology sharing, ensuring our people are kept safe from harm and reinforcing our shared goals. AUKUS will foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains. Fundamentally, a safer world is better for all of us!
Given the fantastic job she has previously done as International Trade Secretary, I have no doubt that Liz Truss will continue to be a fantastic cheerleader for Global Britain in her new role as Foreign Secretary.
It is also good to see some ministerial fire power, in the form of Michael Gove, take over what is now the ‘Department for Levelling Up’, in which housing is included. As I have repeatedly said, the housing/planning proposals previously announced by the Government are not the right way forward for communities such as ours.
The reality is, we need to be building more houses of the right type and in the right place, we need to be backing those looking to get onto the property ladder, tenants, and landlords and we need to be building a better quality of housing. Therefore, I am glad that the current proposals have been paused.
Arguably, the biggest piece of legislation going through the House currently and in the run up to Christmas is the Health & Care Bill. This is a huge piece of legislation which will enact a number of changes to how the NHS is structured and operates. Whilst I largely agree with the purpose and content of the Bill, I have tabled a number of amendments in areas that I think can be improved or need to be looked at again.
One such area is the ability of the population to access medicines and medical devices that they need. Unfortunately, a provision gap exists in this country when it comes to accessing medicines and medical devices. This is why I have tabled an amendment that would require local NHS systems (CCGs – soon to ICBs) to ensure that all NICE (regulator) approved medicines & medical devices are available and promoted to their population.
CCGs have a commissioning budget for their population needs but there are restrictions on how and where they can use it. The NHS professes to support patient choice, but it is clear that in a number of situations that this simply isn’t true within the current structure. This is why we have the current farcical situation whereby an individual in Devon might require a certain treatment but the local CCG don’t have it on their list and the CCG down the road in Cornwall does but the person living in Devon can’t access it. This is ridiculous and needs to change.
As always, it great to be taking part in a number of local events, such as the recent Battle of Britain commemoration event in Teignmouth, and I’m looking forward to a number of other events over recess.
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