The European Union Withdrawal Bill successfully passed through the Commons and the Lords last week and now goes for Royal Assent, its final stage before becoming law. Delivery of this Bill is an important step in the progression of Brexit as it transitions existing EU legislation into UK law.
I attended a briefing at the Department for International Trade focussing on the UK’s future independent trade policy. A priority for the UK should be increased trade in the fast-growing life sciences sector. British business and universities have world-leading research and development capability. There is great potential for specialist UK SMEs to secure deals to export their cutting-edge products and expand their UK operations.
I met with Andrew Hollingsworth and Michael Oliver of Vertex Pharmaceuticals to discuss patient access to Vertex’s cystic fibrosis treatments which were the subject of a recent Westminster Hall debate. Ongoing negotiations between Vertex and NHS England are preventing sufferers of cystic fibrosis from accessing drugs which greatly improve their quality of life. Negotiations have been held up by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) system for assessing the cost-effectiveness of treatments. The big issue here is ensuring NICE has the proper processes in place to make sure that new drugs are agreed as quickly as possible and accurately measure the improvement to patients’ quality of life. Access to medicines is something I have been campaigning on lately and I will continue to press the Minister on the issue.
The Public Accounts Committee held evidence sessions for inquiries into NHS England’s contract with Capita and the collapse of Carillion last week. I was a lead Committee member questioning representatives from Capita and NHS England on a National Audit Office report which found that NHS England’s performance measures for the contract did not cover all that Capita was required to deliver and that Capita underestimated the scale and nature of the task at hand. The Committee session on Carillion focussed on the Government’s response to, and preparedness for, the collapse of Carillion, and Government’s wider relationships with suppliers and whether they support or hinder its ability to get value for money for public services.
I chaired a fascinating session at the Westminster Health Forum looking at new roles and workforce challenges in health and social care. Jeannie Watkins, President, Faculty of Physician Associates and Chair, Professional Standards Sub-Committee, Royal College of Physicians spoke on the important new role physician associates are playing in supporting our health service. Rural communities need ‘specialist generalist’ physician associates who are able to adapt to changing demands and needs.
I was delighted to attend the National Prayer breakfast in Parliament last week with Reverend David Goddard, Minister of Kingsteignton Community Baptist Church. The theme of this year's breakfast was 'What can Christianity offer our society in the 21st century?' and a keynote address on this topic was given by Reverend Dr Timothy Keller, Founding Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York.
It was a pleasure to attend the Disability Confident Event at the Dawlish Garden Trust, the charity for individuals with learning disabilities, sensory and hidden impairments. The Trust encourages their clients to participate in a range of experiences in a safe and supervised environment, making new friends and growing in ability and confidence and Disability Confident is about encouraging employers to think differently about disability and improve how they attract, recruit and retain disabled workers.
It is always good to catch up with the team at Dawlish Community Transport and to hear their news. This service, which offers transport to people who would be otherwise unable to get to medical appointments and social activities, is an absolutely vital link within our community and I am delighted that they continue to thrive within the town.
My next surgery is in Newton Abbot on Friday 13th July at 2pm and Friday 27th July at 2.30pm. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.