Last week, I was delighted to be asked to speak on the panel of a Financial Times event on the future of innovative cancer treatment. I sat on the panel in my role as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Access to Medicines and Medical Devices. The event brought together senior clinicians, academics and industry to discuss CAR T-cell therapy and how the UK can build on its unique health service to ensure that these cancer treatments are made available to patients.
CAR T is an innovative approach that has the potential to significantly improve the outcomes for people with cancer. I was asked to discuss the current situation from a policymaker’s perspective, looking at what the government can do to facilitate the introduction of cell therapies and personalised medicine.
At its latest session this week, the Public Accounts Committee held an evidence session looking at the financial and service sustainability of local government, following on from previous hearings held on the matter earlier in the year. The Committee received an update on the financial sustainability of local authorities and examined the impact of local authority funding on local services which are the responsibility of other departments. It also gave the Committee the opportunity to challenge the Ministry’s weak response to the Committee’s recent recommendations and get the Ministry to commit to improving its understanding of, and address, the issue of local financial sustainability.
On Thursday I attended the launch of the Genesis Initiative’s Access to Finance report, here in Parliament. The Genesis Initiative was formed to improve the quality of the debate on SMEs and create economic reform, driven by SMEs and supported by Parliamentarians.
The report outlines how there is an opportunity for our small business owners to expand their horizons and I hope that the report’s findings will greatly assist those looking for investment to increase their accessibility to new markets. Small business is the backbone of the British economy and when it does well the whole country does well.
With a number of constituents raising queries about the forthcoming Agriculture and Environment Bills, I met with the Agriculture Minister, George Eustice, to raise a number of issues including rural productivity, food security and fishing.
On Wednesday, I met with Cllr John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council to discuss a range of issues including community transport and access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health services in the local community. The Department of Health and Social Care recently announced £3.6 million additional funding to support Adult Social Care in alleviating winter pressures on the health service. To date this year, 60,000 potholes have been reported throughout Devon, a 26% increase on the four-year average. The council has received £20 million from Central Government tackle the issue.
Also discussed was the issue of children’s mental health services in Devon. These services, previously run by Virgin are now coming back in-house in the county, with a partnership of local NHS trusts and social enterprises named as the preferred bidder to deliver children’s community health and wellbeing services in Devon. Alongside CAMHs, these services also include learning disability services, palliative care, speech and language therapy, health visiting, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and specialist children’s assessment centres.
On Monday I hosted the Veterans with Dogs charity here in Parliament for their latest Advisory Council meeting. Veterans with Dogs’ aim is to improve quality of life for Veterans through the companionship of dogs by providing training, education and support services including, but not limited to, Assistance Dogs, companion animals and pets. The charity does an incredible job both locally and nationally and I’m happy to support the amazing work that they do. It was exciting to hear about the great plans they have moving forwards.
My next surgery is on Thursday 13th December at 2pm in Newton Abbot. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.