Oct 16

Living with Diabetes Day

living-with-diabetes-days-banner-569x200Over 80,000 people are estimated to have Type 2 diabetes across Merseyside. The charity Diabetes UK is running a free event in Liverpool on Saturday for anyone diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes who wants to find out more about the condition.

The Living with Diabetes Day will help people manage their condition, improve their day-to-day health and avoid serious complications like renal failure, blindness, amputations and heart disease.

Throughout the day, the charity will be working with local healthcare professionals so people can find out what Type 2 diabetes is, learn about the care they should get and attend workshops on diet, exercise, medication, avoiding complications, travel and driving.

Type 2 diabetes is six times more common in people of South Asian descent and up to three times more common among people of Black African and African Caribbean origin.

The event at Liverpool’s Crown Plaza Hotel, St Nicholas Place, Pier Dock is free but places are limited so please book your place online at www.diabetes.org.uk/lwdd or by calling 0345 123 2399 if you would like to attend.

Oct 15

Time to better regulate sunbeds

The look toSkin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, with sunbed use increasing the likelihood of developing it by up to 50 per cent.

Sunbed regulation is an issue that I deeply care about and was delighted to support Liverpool council’s recent conference on the issue. Here in Liverpool, we have even higher levels of skin cancer compared to the rest of the country.

Currently England has one of the weakest regulatory regimes for protecting sunbed users.

The passage of the 2010 Sunbed Act was an important first step towards regulation of sunbed use, but it has become clear that these current regulations in England are not sufficient to protect people from harm.

The situation in England lags behind those of the devolved nations, where regulations go considerably further than a simple ban on under-18s. Welsh regulation of sunbeds has resulted in a more skilled workforce and no reports of children being burnt.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin has done a lot of work on what changes are needed to bring England in line with other nations. The group carried out an inquiry at the beginning of this year into the effectiveness of sunbed regulations. Liverpool Council has submitted important evidence. The findings of this Inquiry illustrate the range of challenges facing councils when it comes to trying to protect people in their communities from harm that sunbeds can cause and what changes we should be pushing for.

The Inquiry’s findings have recommended the following changes:

  • Compliance testing
  • Ensuring sunbeds are staffed and sunbed users are supervised at all times
  • The inclusion of safety information
  • Licensing by local authorities

The All Party report came out in February 2014 and there has still not been a formal response from the government. Back in June I asked the Minister when it would be responding and if it would make a statement. Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said the government had noted the report and was considering how to respond to the recommendations. Three months later and we still have had no further update. This issue isn’t going away.

The longer the government drags its feet, the more people are being exposed to risks to their health that could easily be avoided.

I’d like to pay tribute to the council for its tireless campaigning for greater powers to license sunbed salons and thus raising awareness about the issue. You can read more about its Look to Die For campaign here.

I will keep applying the pressure to the government to ensure that we keep this matter on the agenda.

Oct 14

The threat to our NHS

NHS campaign logoPrivatisation is the biggest threat to our National Health Service.

All the talk at the Tory Party conference of protecting the NHS is worth nothing. The Tories have spent the last four years breaking up the NHS in an unwanted top-down, £3 billion re-organisation. This has led to longer waiting times and crucial treatment targets being missed.

The Tory re-organisation has also forced through competition and procurement rules that are dividing the NHS into competing units, rather than bringing together physical health, mental health and social care to provide seamless support and treatment for the whole person.

The piecemeal break up of our NHS is seriously threatening its future.

That is why I am backing my colleague Clive Efford’s move to bring forward a Private Members Bill on November 21 to reverse the Tory dismantling of the NHS.

You can show your support to by signing a petition to government by clicking here

If the Tories and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners vote down the Bill, a future Labour government will act to save the NHS and repeal the Tory legislation that has introduced creeping privatisation to the tune of billions of pounds.

We’ll ensure that the Secretary of State for Health has a duty to guarantee a national service free at the point of use. We’ll remove enforced competition. We’ll ensure private patients aren’t put before NHS patients; and we’ll tackle conflicts of interest.

We will make sure the NHS is focused not on competition but on collaboration, so that the system is properly integrated to work in the interests of patients and we’ll stop the NHS wasting money on competition lawyers instead of patient care.

Oct 10

Celebrating World Mental Health Day

World Mental health day coverToday is World Mental Health Day, organised by the United Nations and marked in over 100 countries around the world.

It is a great opportunity to find out more about an issue that is still surrounded by stigma. Time to Change is launching a new campaign to encourage us all to do the little things that can make a big difference and encourage people to talk more easily about mental health.

In Liverpool from today and across the weekend, there are events across Williamson Square, FACT, Central Library, World Museum, the Playhouse Theatre and many more venues co-ordinated by Liverpool Mental Health Consortium.

The consortium points out that one in four people in Liverpool will experience a mental health problem and one-in-three visits to a local GP are for a mental health related concern.

It has produced an event-packed 32-page booklet detailing performances from choirs, performers, artists, comedians, exhibitors who will celebrate the best in mental health and help raise awareness about what still needs to be done to break down the stigma and put care and support on a par with physical health care.

One of the many highlights will be the unveiling at Central Library of the winners at Liverpool’s Writing on the Wall Festival competition for diaries, blogs, short stories, journalism, poetry, letters and tweets inspired by the title Mental Health and Me.

View the events booklet by clicking here or ring 0151 237 2688 to find out more.

Oct 08

Bringing jobs and growth to Liverpool

I recently pressed the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg about why Liverpool is not represented on his Northern Futures initiative which is supposed to bring together ideas to ‘create a vibrant Northern hub so it can compete with the biggest cities around the world.’

His offer of a government email address as an alternative to the real representation and involvement this city needs underlined for me why it is so important that Liverpool’s voice is heard directly in the coming months and years as the debate about how to bring jobs and economic success to the North heats up.

I support a direct high speed rail link to Liverpool because of the important economic benefits it will bring to the city and the inter-connectedness that it will bring to the Northern economy as a whole.

I share Mayor Joe Anderson’s view that the extra freight capacity is needed to make the most of the port developments that are coming in the years ahead.

Joe rightly points out that almost half of the world’s trade moved through the Port of Liverpool in the 19th century but that getting freight to and from the Liverpool City Region is just as important.

The Liverpool 2 container berth that is due to open late next year will be able to handle 90 per cent of the world’s container ships and opens the possibility of Liverpool being at the centre of a new era of sea trade. But without a HS2 link, the opportunity will be limited.

Five great cities – Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle – have come together to make the most powerful case yet for 21st century connections that allow people to do business together more easily.

We need connectivity – both East-West and through HS2. Investment in a trans-Pennine connection will lead to renewed confidence and growth across the North of England. Liverpool is the only major city in the North and Midlands not directly connected to HS2 and with talk now starting about a HS3 linking Manchester and Leeds, it is vital that Liverpool’s voice is heard.

Oct 07

Putting local people back in charge

Why vote Labour books pileThe vote by the people of Scotland to stay within the UK has underlined why we are better together and why we need to give careful consideration to how we make sure everyone is able to express their voice for change.

I believe that we need further devolution of power within England, we need reform at Westminster, and we need to look seriously at codifying the constitution.

Nothing highlights this more for people locally and across the North West than the unfair cuts imposed by this Tory-led government.

Between 2010/11 and 2015/16 we will have faced a reduction of £807.23 in spending power per household, while councils in some of the wealthiest areas in the country – like Surrey Heath and Wokingham – will actually see an increase in their spending power per household over this period.

That is despite Liverpool topping the league table of multiple deprivation. We have the greatest need but one of the highest level of cuts in the country. It is a disgrace.

This is not special pleading. The Audit Commission watchdog said last year: ‘Councils in the most deprived areas have seen substantially greater reductions in government funding as a share of revenue expenditure than councils in less deprived areas.’

The 10 most deprived local authorities in England will lose 16 times the amount in spending power per household compared to the 10 least deprived local authorities between 2010/11 and 2015/16.

A Labour government will put fairness back at the heart of local government and its finances. We will push resources and power out from Whitehall and into the regions and communities of our country.

The people must be heard.

That is why Labour is planning a process to begin before the next election in which every region in the country is engaged in a dialogue about how power needs to be dispersed, including in England.

The people, not just the politicians, need to discuss how this will happen.

That process will culminate next year with a Constitutional Convention to discuss how we are governed. It will look at new ideas for representation including reforms at Westminster and the case for a Senate of the Nations and Regions. This is a Convention for the United Kingdom. It is not a Convention to divide or drive our country apart once more.

Oct 05

Grants to help communities tackle crime

Police commissioner logoIf you are part of a community group with a great idea to help cut crime and increase community safety, you can now apply to Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy for a grant of up to £5,000 to make it happen.

The deadline to apply is October 10, and the Commissioner is particularly keen to hear from community organisations who wish to apply for funding for activities around Autumn half term, Halloween and Bonfire Night.

To find out more and apply, click here, email info@cfmerseyside.org.uk or telephone 0151 232 2444.

Oct 03

Don’t be fooled by pie-in-the-sky Tories

David Cameron’s speech to the Tory Party conference showed no recognition that working people are £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories nor that the NHS is going backwards on their watch.Few

Instead, he tried to pull the wool over people’s eyes. People won’t be fooled by pie-in-the-sky promises of tax cuts in six years’ time when he can’t tell us where the money will come from.

Even the Tories admit this is an unfunded commitment of over £7 billion, so how will they pay for it? Will they raise VAT on families and pensioners again?

The only concrete pledge we’ve had from the Tories this week is a promise to cut tax credits by hundreds of pounds for millions of hard working people while keeping a £3 billion tax cut for the richest one per cent.

Only Labour will make Britain work for everyday working people, rewarding the hard work they do and saving the NHS they rely on.

Our plan will cut taxes for millions on middle and low incomes with a lower 10p starting rate of tax and save and transform the NHS with 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs. And we’ve said how we will pay for it.

Our NHS Time to Care Fund will be funded by asking the wealthiest to pay a little more, properly tackling tax avoidance and asking tobacco firms to pay their fair share. A commitment the Tories won’t match.

The Tories can’t build a better future for working people because they only stand up for the privileged. With the NHS going backwards and a recovery which works just for a few, working people can’t afford five more years of David Cameron.

Oct 02

Becoming a guide dog friend

Guide dogs Luciana Berger MPI’m delighted to have become a guide dog friend. Guide Dogs changes lives and is striving for a world in which people who are blind or partially sighted can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.

Guide Dogs has around 4,700 guide dog partnerships across the UK and also offers My Guide and buddy dogs to thousands more adults, children and young people.

I’ve supported its Talking Buses campaign and will be supporting Guide Dogs Week from October 4-12.

At previous Guide Dogs events, I’ve had I got a chance to experience for myself why people with sight loss need audio-visual announcements (AV) on buses.

AV is essential for people with sight loss to live independently, yet only one fifth of UK buses have AV. Without AV bus passengers with sight loss have to ask the driver to remember to tell them when they have reached their stop.

Seven in 10 bus passengers with sight loss have been forgotten by a bus driver. For a sighted person, missing a stop is an annoyance, but for someone with sight loss, it is potentially very dangerous.

AV doesn’t just help people with sight loss – tourists, older people and infrequent bus users all find AV useful.

If you’ve got five minutes or longer you can get involved too by clicking here.

Sep 24

Bringing together mental health, physical health and social care

MilibandIt was great to hear Labour Leader Ed Miliband put an integrated health service that brings together mental health, physical health and social care at the heart of our plans for government.

With 3,000 more midwives, 5,000 more care workers, 8,000 more GPs, and 20,000 more nurses we will be able to reverse the Tory dismantling of our NHS and create a service fit for the 21st century.

I know from talking to people across Liverpool and up and down the country as Shadow Public Health Minister that the top-down reorganisation of the NHS imposed by the Tory-led government isn’t working. It is making it harder for people to get the support and treatment they need when and where they need it.

Already, one in four people can’t get to see their GP within a week. Waiting lists for treatment are at their highest level for six years. Too many people with mental health problems are left without access to talking treatments. Home visits from care staff are often limited to just 15 minutes.

As Ed Miliband told conference: ‘Just imagine what another five years of David Cameron would mean for our National Health Service. We are not going to let it happen, our NHS is too precious, too important and we will not let it happen.’

That is why, as Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham confirmed today, our first task in government will be to repeal the Tories’ Health and Social Care Act.

A Labour government will guarantee GP appointments in 48 hours. We will give women a right to a home birth, older people the right to care at home and people at the end of their lives the right to die at home in dignity surrounded by the people they love.

Hospital trusts and other NHS bodies will evolve into NHS integrated care organisations, providing consistent care from the home to the hospital.

We will have mental health nurses and therapists at the heart of the NHS, no longer the poor relation on the fringes. We will ensure that mental health is treated with the same importance as physical health.

We will pay for our plans by raising £2.5 billion for an NHS Time to Care Fund, not from everyday working people but by ensuring that tax avoiders play by the rules, and asking those at the top to pay more.

We will raise tax on high value properties worth more than £2 million, clamp down on tax avoidance schemes and introduce fees on tobacco companies.

An integrated service that brings together mental, physical and care services delivered to where people need them, when they need is the real alternative that Labour will offer in May 2015.

We built the NHS. We will save the NHS and transform it for the future.

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