Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Westminster Week

On Monday, as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Access to Medicines and Medical Devices, I was delighted to meet with Professor Nandita DeSouza, lead academic radiologist at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden. We discussed the future of oncology research and how patients are involved in the design of clinical trails. Developing truly patient-centred care and sharing best practice is important for the future development of the NHS so it was good to learn how patient choice can be built into the system.

On Tuesday I chaired a roundtable meeting bringing together stakeholders to discuss the ‘Serious Shortage Protocol’ which is legislation that allows pharmacists to substitute a different medicine to the one prescribed in the event of a serious shortage. Charities, patient organisations, Royal Colleges, industry representatives, and primary care societies came together to have a very informative debate about how to ensure that any use of the serious shortage protocol effectively supports continued access to medicinal products, whilst minimising the potential risks to patient safety.

Clarification from government is needed on the Serious Shortage Protocol in terms of what level of shortage constitutes a serious enough shortage to trigger the protocol. The Government also needs to confirm who will be consulted on in the decision to trigger the protocol and that sufficient clinical input has been sought when publishing guidance to pharmacists to substitute medicines. I will be bringing the concerns raised during the meeting to the attention of Ministers.

The Public Accounts Committee held two sessions this week looking at both house building and submarine dismantling. In its report on the issue, the National Audit Office found serious flaws in the government’s planning system and concluded that, in its current state, it cannot demonstrate that it is meeting housing demand effectively. Since 2005-06, 177,000 new homes per year have been built on average. In order to meet its ambition, the Department will need to oversee a 69% increase in the average number of new homes built since 2005-06. The witnesses agreed that this was an incredibly ambitious target to achieve.


Teignbridge Matters

I was very disappointed to see such a low turnout at the Teignbridge local elections last week. Local authorities are responsible for a significant proportion of our public services such as recycling, road maintenance, and social care, so having a say in which councillors represent us is very important. My best wishes go out to all candidates, successful or not, who are willing to stand and serve our community. The new council has many challenges to face and I look forward to working with them on a range of local issues. My best wishes also go to Jeremy Christophers, the outgoing leader, who had led an efficient and effective council and recognised the need to build homes for the young.

It was a pleasure to attend the launch of the Great South West APPG on Tuesday evening in the Houses of Parliament. The new APPG brings together parliamentarians from across Dorset, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to champion the importance of the South West region. I took the opportunity to catch up with Cllr John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council and Peter Doyle, Head of External Affairs at Devon County Council.

Our main area of discussion was the improvement strategy for the A382 between Drumbridges and Jetty Marsh in the constituency. The A382’s high volume of traffic causes congestion and the poor standard of road contributes to a high collision rate. I shall be writing to the Transport Minister to outline my support for these improvements which are much needed in our community. These improvements include widening to dual carriageway between Drumbridges and the Trago roundabout as well as implementing parallel shared pedestrian and cycle paths.

My next surgery is on Friday 14th June from 10am in Newton Abbot. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.