Huge potential to cut cancer death toll

Luciana Berger MP cancer ukThere have been major advances in the fight against cancer over the last 40 years. Two in four people diagnosed with cancer today in the UK will survive their disease for at least 10 years, compared to just one in four in the early 1970s.

In the North West, this means that around 19,000 people each year can now expect to survive the disease for at least 10 years.

Figures produced by Cancer Research UK show that Liverpool is doing well in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers compared to the rest of England, but England lags behind the best in Europe.

Official NHS figures released last week for May 2014 show 18,664 patients across the country waiting longer than the recommended six-week limit for tests – the highest number for six years and more than twice the figure this time last year and five times the figure at the time of the last election.

Delays in tests cause stress and anguish and can lead to delays in treatment. The government missed its own treatment target earlier this year.

The charity says much more can be done to help more people in the North West and across the UK beat cancer sooner. It believes that within 20 years, advances in care and treatment could mean that three out of every four people diagnosed will survive for at least 10 years.

Early diagnosis and ensuring ready access to the best treatments will be key.

Recently, I was able to meet with cancer researchers supported by the charity and hear about the cutting-edge work they are doing to help prevent the 1,300 deaths from cancer that take place in Liverpool Wavertree alone each year.

Research matters – as does prevention, raising people’s awareness of symptoms and early diagnosis and speedy treatment.

The possibilities are really exciting but the government mustn’t be allowed to let the advances of past years be reversed.

Join in a day of action for young women

Youth for changeA day of inspiring talks, interactive sessions and a sharing of ideas is promised for tomorrow when girls and young women aged 14-21 come together to debate rights and empowerment and showcase positive examples for change.

Youth for Change is hosted by the United Nations. Girls and young women can get involved through live streaming of the event. Just click here, follow the instructions and you, your friends, school friends, youth club can join in the event.

A key moment will be when young people talk about how to join a movement to end the horrific experiences of female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage.

In the UK, over 20,000 girls are at risk of female genital mutilation each year and thousands are exposed to forced marriage.

Female genital mutilation is a form of violence against girls which can result in a lifetime of pain, psychological problems and difficulty in childbirth. Around 125 million girls have been cut worldwide.

Child and forced marriage occurs in every part of the world. One in three girls in developing countries is married by the age of 18, and one in nine by the age of 15. Some are as young as eight.

The #YouthforChange event feeds into the Girl Summit 2014 on July 22, designed to get the UK government to commit to action and enable people to pledge their support to take action.

The first ever Girl Summit, bringing together governments, activists and community leaders will put the spotlight on girls’ rights and push the potential of girls to help stop poverty before it even starts, across the world.

Young people make up half the world’s population. They are a powerful force for change. Please join in, if you can.


Vote Labour to get rid of the bedroom tax

Luciana Berger with Rachel Reeves and Bedroom tax posterSometimes the unbelievable hypocrisy of the Lib Dems has to be seen and heard to be believed.

They claimed today to be shocked and disturbed about the human cost of the bedroom tax. The Lib Dems are part of this government. Lib Dems voted for the bedroom tax. There wouldn’t be a bedroom tax if it wasn’t for the Lib Dems. Downing Street has confirmed that no Lib Dem Cabinet minister ever raised a private concern about the bedroom tax.

Only last week, on my latest Down Your Street event, a constituent said that she was being charged the bedroom tax because she and her young child had an extra bedroom. She had tried to down size, got to the top of the waiting list for a smaller property and was then told she couldn’t have it. Instead, through no fault of her own and despite doing her very best to get a smaller house, she is being charged the extra – just as the government and the Lib Dems planned.

The Lib Dems should join Labour now in voting down the bedroom tax.

Yet, in February when Labour tabled a Bill to scrap the bedroom tax, the Lib Dems were nowhere to be seen.

You can’t trust a word the Lib Dems say – it is clear the only way to cancel the bedroom tax is to elect a Labour government next year.

Highlighting the digital divide

I was able to visit two TUC digital hubs on Lodge Lane, L8 recently to see the great work they are doing to help people use technology to gain more control over their own health.Luciana Berger with digital divide

The hubs are funded through the Mi – the ‘more independent health initiative’ and facilitated by the TUC to help people get to grips with the basics of using computers and digital aids.

I was able to see the work people from Granby Toxteth Development Trust, a long established voluntary organisation in L8, Personal Success based in the Tiber Enterprise offices and the Somali Women’s Centre, also on Lodge Lane are doing.

The TUC has set up or resourced over 50 hubs in the city over the past six months and trained more than 200 Digital Champions to spread learning to over 2,000 learners.

The Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentres sometimes use the threat of sanctions against people who are not searching for jobs online, even when they don’t have the skills to do so. I heard some shocking examples during my visits and will be raising the growing digital poverty gap in Parliament.

We can’t afford to have people excluded from the technologies and skills they need in the 21st century to make the most of the opportunities on offer online.

Planning to support the arts

Arts are fundamental to what it is to be human; for how each individual develops, sees themselves and the world around them. The arts must be for everyone not just for some. Giants

Liverpool is alive with art and culture this summer. The Biennial is open, we’ve had Africa Oye and Brouhaha over the past few weekends and there are great shows at Tate Liverpool, the Walker, Metal and the Giants are heading for town. These are just a few of the great events on offer.

The Labour Party has always recognised that the arts and creative industries are an intrinsic part of life and our economy. In Liverpool, we know that art and culture can enrich lives and help to regenerate communities.

The last Labour government supported the arts, not least by providing free admission to all our national museums and galleries, like the Walker and our World Museum and International Slavery Museum, and supporting the building of new museums and galleries, like the Museum of Liverpool.

The next Labour government will be a friend of the arts too.

That is why Labour Arts Alliance is being formed to make again the case for the arts as we campaign for the return of a Labour government.

The Labour Arts Alliance wants a local and national dialogue so that a One Nation vision for the arts and creative industries can be created for the second decade of the 21st Century, and beyond.

The alliance is encouraging supporters to help devise a strategy for the growth of the sector and contribute policy ideas for the 2015 Labour manifesto and beyond.

If you are interested, you can sign up here or follow the alliance on Twitter @LabourArts

We can stand together to protect our arts and creative industries.

Celebrating the birth of the NHS

When the National Health Service was born in 1948 under the Labour government some of the first to benefit were new mums and their babies. Before the NHS, the slightest birth complications could saddle a family with a bill of a week’s wages or more.NHS birth

After the birth of the NHS, that fear was lifted.

The story of the NHS is one of Labour’s proudest and we are telling it now, because we now that we are in danger of slipping back, with GPs under pressure, longer waits in A&E and delays in treatment.

If you click here and enter you date of birth and postcode you can find out your NHS birth number – where you come in the long line of babies born on the NHS – and share it with family and friends.

It really brings home just what a difference the NHS has made. People tell their stories of being born and growing up under the NHS.

The website also tells you about the fantastic work the NHS is doing today, supporting people with long-term conditions, people in need of emergency care and visiting GPs.

The NHS is too important to leave in this government’s hands. Its top-down reorganisation has cost £3 billion that could have gone to deal with the crisis in child and adolescent mental health, helped keep more GP surgeries open longer and reduced waits at A&E.

Labour has the history and the values to protect and reinvigorate our National Health Service.

Royal Mail rip-off sale exposed

Royal Mail staffThe government’s unnecessary and unwanted sale of Royal Mail has cost us £1 billion. The cross-party business select committee of MPs found that Royal Mail was sold on the cheap. It was a rip-off.

Ministers pressed ahead with their botched fire sale of Royal Mail, despite widespread opposition and warnings.

As a result, taxpayers have been short changed by hundreds of millions of pounds while the government’s ‘priority’ City investors made a killing at the public’s expense.

The damning report from a committee that includes MPs from all parties reinforces the significant criticisms which have already been made by the National Audit Office and others.

Ministers have now been forced by Labour pressure to order an inquiry into the sale. They have at last admitted what everyone else has known for months on the huge failings there have been. David Cameron’s government still has serious questions to answer.

44-year struggle for pay equality

equalpay-300x208Women are still not receiving equal pay, 44 years after Labour’s Barbara Castle steered through the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

A Labour government will make closing the pay gap a priority by supporting working mums with extra childcare, tackling low pay which hits women hardest and targeting greater pay transparency to route-out discrimination.

It’s not good enough that women today earn on average just 80p for every pound earned by men; and things are getting worse.

If the Tories and Lib Dems had continued with the progress Labour was making in government, women would have an extra £177.30 in their pay packets at the end of the year.

In government Labour made steady progress to close the pay gap – reducing it by 7.7 per cent and closing it almost entirely for women in their twenties and thirties working full time.

Now, a third of working women are in low-wage jobs, a record six million women are working part-time where hourly pay is on average a third less than they could expect in a full-time job.

Some three-quarters of a million women are now on zero-hour contracts, many of them struggling to get enough hours from one week to the next.

Labour will make work pay by substantially increasing the national minimum wage, providing tax breaks to companies to pay the living wage and ending the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts.

Women can’t afford to wait another 44 years for pay equality, and neither can Britain’s economy.

Anthony Nolan Trust looks for local heroes

Almost 1,000 people in Liverpool Wavertree have signed the Anthony Nolan Trust bone marrow transplant register.Anthony Nolan logo

The UK’s blood cancer charity and bone marrow register says that having 904 people signed up locally is ‘not bad, but not super.’

It wants to recruit more local super-heroes aged 16-30 who are in good health and willing to donate stem cells or bone marrow.

Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is told they have a blood cancer such as leukaemia. For many, a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant is their only chance.

They need cells from a healthy person – with the same tissue type – to replace and repair their own damaged cells.

About 30 per cent of people in need can find a suitable donor in their family. But the other 70 per cent rely on a stranger to save their lives. Anthony Nolan helps that 70 per cent find the right match.

The charity makes around 1,000 matches a year from the 500,000 people signed up to its register.

You can find out whether you would make a good match by clicking here.

The trust is particularly keen to speak to young people aged 16-18 in schools. If you would like the trust to come to your school, please call 0207 284 8213 or email:



Spell out your organ transplant wishes

Organ transplant all-in-one logoFewer than one in three families in England would agree to organ donation going ahead if they are unaware of their loved one’s decision to be a donor, but that rises to nine in 10 when a decision to be an organ donor is known.

That is why this year’s National Transplant Week is concentrating both on getting people to sign up to the national organ transplant register, but also to share the decision with family and friends.

Joining the organ transplant register is easy – 20 million people have already signed up.

I did it through a Boots Advantage card. You can also call 0300 123 23 23, write free to: FREEPOST RRZK-SHUX-SBCK, NHS Blood and Transplant, Fox Den Road, Stoke Gifford, Bristol BS34 8RR or click here to register online.

Whatever choice you make, please do let family and friends know. If the worst were to happen, they will be asked to agree to organ donation going ahead and knowing your wishes would be one less worry for them.

On average, three people a day die in need of a transplant because there are not enough organs available, and one donor can save or transform the lives of up to nine people.