This week, Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, announced five brand new medical schools and 1,500 new medical school places in England. As our society ages and our demands on the NHS increase, it is vital that our NHS workforce expands to keep pace. I was glad to hear that this expansion is focussed on aligning expansion to local need with an emphasis on priority geographical areas, including rural and coastal areas.
Also announced this week was the proposed transition deal for leaving the EU and I am particularly concerned over its impact upon our fishing industry. The Commission’s draft Withdrawal Agreement envisages that the UK will remain in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) during the implementation period but with no say over EU policy or annual quotas. This gives us no control over our own waters and does not allow us to begin to undo some of the damage to fish stocks that we have seen over decades under the CFP. Rather than seek to continue with the failed CFP, we should start the work of revitalising all our coastal communities throughout the UK by championing a truly independent UK fishing policy.
On the Public Accounts Committee this week I was a lead member during a session looking at the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). DBS handles requests for disclosure of criminal records (or DBS checks) from employers and issues disclosure certificates. The Committee and I questioned executives and civil servants involved in the modernisation as to why the programme is running three and a half years late and expected costs have increased by £229 million.
Leonard Cheshire Disability, the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of social care, held an event in Parliament this week. They were highlighting their #MakeCareFair campaign for good quality social care and an end to rushed 15 minute personal care visits which can deprive people of dignified and compassionate care. Last year almost 20,000 people received these ‘flying’ care visits across England, Scotland and Wales which is an unacceptable amount.
Last week, I met with Ian Cowling, Vice Chair of the Devon Association of Local Councils. We discussed the issues affecting Parish and Town Councils and their contributions to improving community well-being and providing services at a local level.
On Thursday, I visited the Modern Slavery Police Transformation Programme in Exmouth to see first-hand the work they are doing to help forces across the country target modern slavery. We discussed a multi-agency approach to tackling modern slavery and the public’s perception and awareness of the crime. The unit has already done impressive work helping police forces across England and Wales improve their support for vulnerable victims and bring perpetrators to justice.
It was English Tourism Week last week and I was delighted to celebrate by visiting some attractions in the constituency. I visited the Teign Heritage Centre, where I met Councillor Robert Phipps and saw the lovely photos on display at the Donald Crowhurst exhibit. On Friday, I visited Cofton Holiday Park to see the recent refurbishments to Eastdon House. Tourism is important to our local economy and I encourage everyone to visit and see what our beautiful part of Devon has to offer!
My next surgery will be in Newton Abbot on Thursday 29th March at 2pm. Please call 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.