Sep 03

Occupational therapy plays a vital role in our NHS

Occupational therapy can play a vital role in supporting people with chronic pain to live a full life.

VISIT (l-r): ex patient Daryl Evans, Lead PMP Occupational Therapist John Tetlow, Luciana Berger MP, Volunteer Alan Pendleton, Volunteer Linda Schrimshaw and ex patient Collette Dowd.

VISIT (l-r): ex patient Daryl Evans, Lead PMP Occupational Therapist John Tetlow, Luciana Berger MP, Volunteer Alan Pendleton, Volunteer Linda Schrimshaw and ex patient Collette Dowd.

I recently had a fantastic visit to The Walton Centre’s Pain Management Programme Occupational Therapy team to hear about their work, in particular with young people and people aiming to get back into work.

The specialist neurosciences trust’s programme works with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists to support people with chronic pain to re-engage in a wide range of meaningful activities such as volunteer work, education, hobbies and paid work. The programme also has a Work and Employment Clinic.

There can be huge psychological and emotional demands of living with chronic pain. People with chronic pain on the programme attend a number of therapy sessions, ranging from target setting and activity management, to communication and mindfulness.

Crucially, occupational therapists work with people to address both physical and mental health needs, drawing on a whole-person approach to wellbeing that should be central to the overall approach of the NHS.

Many more people could benefit from occupational therapy, especially those living with chronic pain, who don’t feel like they can engage fully in society because of their condition.

However, the NHS is facing tight financial constraints.

It proved a really insightful day. This is a part of the NHS that cannot be overlooked.

Aug 31

We need justice for injured workers

Government plans to change the rules around workplace injuries could prevent a significant number of genuine accident victims from claiming compensation which they have suffered through no fault of their own.USDAW campaign

The government’s Civil Liability Bill aims to double the Small Claims Limit for victims of workplace accidents from £1,000 to £2,000.

Shopworkers’ union Usdaw argues that the limit should be set at £1,500, as a fair reflection of inflation since the limit was last increased in 1999. That is in line with the recommendation of Lord Justice Jackson to only increase the limit in increments of £500 as inflation dictates.

Tens of thousands of injured workers risk being prevented from pursuing claims against their employer.

With no access to legal support or advice, workers will be left with no option but to pursue often complex claims against expert legal teams instructed by their employer’s insurers.

Injured employees may simply choose not to enforce their legal rights and will not pursue a claim. The number of claims arising from workplace injury is falling annually and these reforms will serve to accelerate this process.

High workplace health and safety standards are supported by employers facing the risk of court proceedings if they don’t enforce them and a worker gets injured. The government plans will reduce that incentive and bad employers may feel they can get away with lowering standards.

Usdaw is making a very important case – these proposed reforms are unfair, unnecessary and will significantly restrict access to justice for injured workers in England and Wales. I will campaign against them.

Aug 31

Partnership action taken to support Kensington

I’m delighted that by working together, the Police, councillors, local agencies and the local community have agreed a fresh approach to tackling criminal and anti-social behaviour associated with sex work in Kensington.Sheil-Road-in-Kensington-Liverpool

I recently met with Merseyside Police and others to raise the ongoing concerns of constituents and agree a new approach that will see strengthened police activity with additional officers being deployed to the area at key times.

Liverpool City Council will also increase resources dedicated to tackling the problem of litter, including condoms, which have caused concerns for constituents and will make an immediate visual improvement in the environment.

The partners agreed that there needed to be an emphasis on targeting men who cause a risk to women and who look for the services of street sex workers. A phased approach will provide warnings to women sex workers which will seek to ensure that they are aware of and encouraged to engage with agencies that can offer help and support.

A dedicated detective has been introduced to deal with those involved in street sex work to ensure crimes against them are reported and dealt with as a hate crime.

The police rightly point out that Merseyside is the only place in the country to take this approach to dealing with this type of crime and encouraging those who are victims to come forward.

I know from the constituents who have contacted me and from working closely with local community groups and councillors that residents have been faced with significant problems brought about by men seeking out sex workers in their neighbourhood.

This is totally unacceptable and must be tackled in the long term. Police action has already seen a number of men arrested for offences including robbery and connected to purchasing sex.

Of course, the police by themselves cannot solve the problem. That is why it is vital to support community and voluntary sector groups who are working with women sex workers to ensure every possible avenue of support is available to those who are vulnerable and abused.

It is also essential to take action against wider criminal and anti-social behaviour in the area.

Police have recently targeted numerous addresses, made a number of arrests, seized more than £2 million worth of drugs and used powers to close three addresses in the area, as well as working with housing providers to secure the evictions of other problematic tenants.

Residents must be able to live safe and secure in their community and I am determined to work with everyone to make this happen.

Aug 17

Please share your views on our future with the EU

SurveyI need your help. As the Brexit process is progressing I am keen to hear your current views and opinions. Please tell me what you want the future of our country to be. You can complete my latest survey by clicking here.

Whatever we think of the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union in March next year – Brexit – there can’t be any doubt that it is a huge deal for the future of the country.

I have made no secret of the fact that I, along with the majority of Liverpool and other parts of Merseyside, voted in the June 2016 referendum to Remain in the EU.

We cannot re-run all the arguments that led to 52 per cent of those who voted, voting to leave the EU.

I recognise that the referendum result gave the government a mandate to try and negotiate a good Brexit deal for the future of our country.

But what a mess the government is making of it. Even Tory Cabinet ministers are now saying that there is a real possibility of the UK crashing out of the EU next year with no deal on jobs, the economy, policing or defence co-operation.

I know from the thousands of conversations, emails, letters and telephone calls I have had in the last two years that people are really worried about what the future will bring.

The next few months will see an intensive period of political activity with Parliament battling to assert its rights to hold the government to account over the Brexit negotiations.

I believe that every person in the country – and that means everyone here in Liverpool Wavertree – should have their say too. This is too important an issue to be left to 660 MPs alone.

That is why I am today asking you to tell me what you think. I want to hear your views and to make sure that when I hold the government to account in the coming months I know that I am doing it so in the full knowledge of what people locally think.

You can complete my survey by clicking here.

The survey asks for your opinion on the referendum result, if they have changed over the last two years, what matters most to you in the current negotiations and – crucially – who should have the final say over the outcome of the negotiations.

The survey will only take five minutes to complete, but doing so will help me to make a contribution to the future of our country on your behalf.

Thank you in advance for your time.

You can complete my survey by clicking here.

Aug 17

No action on social housing crisis

The government slipped out a discussion paper on the future of social housing earlier this week. As Parliament is currently in recess, ministers can’t be questioned on it, but I will be raising this as soon as we return.Liverpool houses

The Green Paper suggests some overdue improvements to the service tenants should expect from their landlord – but there is not one single mention of any government action that would build even one extra social home anywhere in the country.

Around one in 10 of the people asking for my help at my weekly surgery or via email is concerned about housing.

I know from listening to constituents that overcrowding, the lack of homes adapted for people with disabilities, supported living for older people and an inability to move to be nearer families are significant issues. These challenges can be addressed by expanding the number and types of homes available.

There are some great housing associations working locally with the support of Liverpool Council in Liverpool Wavertree. However, the level of need exceeds the resources they have available.

When the government Green Paper was announced last September, the then Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid promised that it would ‘be the most substantial report of its kind for a generation.’

However, despite the number of new social rented homes across the country falling to a record low last year, there is no new money in this Green Paper to increase the supply of housing.

In fact, in launching the Green Paper this week, the housing minister admitted on the radio that the number of new social rented homes will not increase from record low levels next year.

Housing charity Shelter says that the Green Paper is ‘full of warm words, but doesn’t commit a single extra penny towards building the social homes needed by the 1.2 million people on the waiting list.’

My colleague John Healey published Labour’s own social housing Green Paper in April this year which set out a long-term plan to build a million new genuinely affordable homes over 10 years. This is the kind of commitment that is urgently needed by government to begin to tackle the housing crisis.

Aug 16

Rail fares to rise as chaos continues

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has delivered yet another slap in the face for local commuters who have been facing weeks of #RailFail.Northern trains tickets

He is now demanding that hard-pressed commuters pay again for falling standards with even higher prices.

Regulated rail fares will rise by 3.2 per cent in January 2019, based on this month’s inflation figures. That will mean that fares have risen by 36 per cent under the Tories – three times the rate of average wage growth.

The government is increasing fares by the Retail Price Index rather than the lower, more accurate measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram has called for fares to be frozen on services failing to deliver acceptable services to passengers, including Northern and TransPennine. I agree.

However, Chris Grayling has demanded that staff pay for the chaos by agreeing new contracts that would limit their future pay increases to the CPI measure of inflation. That is a disingenuous distraction designed to shift the focus away from the desperate state of rail services here in the North West.

On Sunday August 12 rail operator Northern cancelled 80 services, including trains on the Liverpool to Manchester Airport line used by families and others travelling to and from summer holidays. It was the third successive week of similar Sunday cancellations.

Passengers into Liverpool will be expected to pay on average £110 more per year for an annual season ticket, £91 for those travelling from Southport and across key routes into Manchester city centre stations passengers can expect a £45 increase.

Liverpool commuters can’t afford the cost of higher fares and falling standards.

A 2019 fares freeze would at least recognise the level of disruption over the past few months and compensate passengers for the delays in planned service upgrades. A fares freeze could also help attract back passengers to the railways who have been put off by recent disruption. I will be pushing the government in this proposal when Parliament resumes in two weeks’ time.

Aug 10

Tory cuts see crime rise as police numbers fall

police logoNew figures show that police numbers are dropping while crime rates are rising across Merseyside.

Hard-pressed police and the communities they serve are being let down by this Tory government and its cuts.

Tory cuts sent police officer numbers nationwide to historic lows. Here in Merseyside, police numbers have fallen by 1,066 in the last eight years to just 3,450. That’s a cut of 24 per cent. At the same time crime is on the up. Violent crimes are up 21 per cent. Burglaries are up 16 per cent. Public order offences are up 41 per cent and possession of weapons up 24 per cent.

I know how hard our police are working to serve the community but are not getting the government support they need.

Our police are at breaking point and these shocking figures reveal the Tories are failing in their duty to protect the public.

It is high time the Prime Minister and Home Secretary faced up to their responsibility and urgently act to put police officers back on our streets.

The Tory record on crime has seen eight years of wretched failure with devastating consequences for our communities.

Aug 08

Lime Street reopens but #railfail misery goes on

Lime Street rail station is open again after the latest stage of its facelift, designed to improve facilities for passengers and make it possible to run more and longer trains.Lime Street

Good news – except that we all know rail services across the North West collapsed in the spring when new timetables were introduced and are still on their knees despite a summer of emergency timetables.

Rail users – and the businesses and communities that rely on people being able to move efficiently around our region – are suffering. I have received a large number of representations from constituents who are affected.

We need a long-term strategy to drive up investment across the North, and we need a plan for immediate action. The government has a duty to work with communities across the North to deliver both.

That is why I joined a cross-party group of over 80 MPs and political leaders in writing to the Chancellor demanding a £100 billion regional road and rail investment programme to ‘reverse decades of underinvestment.’

The programme would centre on increasing capacity and cutting rail journey times, particularly east to west across the North.

It includes new high-speed lines between Manchester and Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds as well as upgrading existing lines between Leeds and Hull and Sheffield and Hull.

I want the Chancellor to respond positively to the united voice of political leaders in the North and invest for the future, but we need immediate action too.

The high cost of the rail fiasco has been underlined by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership which says that months of cancelled and delayed trains has cost businesses in our area nearly £38 million.

The costs to individuals are also mounting. For instance, two Sundays ago Northern rail failed to run almost every timetabled service between Liverpool and Manchester Airport – at the height of the holiday season.

I will continue to work closely with colleagues from across the North West and North to force the government to take responsibility for the chaos.

Jul 20

Government is failing to back childcare

Botched government plans to introduce 30-hour childcare for working families are letting down children, parents and providers.Childcare campaign

I met with Planet Wavertree chief executive Clare Roberts in Parliament this week at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Childcare and Early Education. It is clear that government promises to properly fund the expansion of childcare for working parents is failing, and putting providers under real pressure.

The government refuses to meet the full costs for small providers who face significant administration and other overheads, which reduces choice for parents.

More problems are on the horizon.

The existing Childcare Voucher scheme is due to close to new entrants on October 4. Thanks to pressure from parents, providers and MPs the government was forced to put off the scheme’s closure by six months.

Over two million families have benefitted from childcare vouchers since their introduction under the last Labour government in 2005.

The government’s new Tax-Free Childcare scheme will leave some families worse off, depending on a family’s individual circumstances. In March, the House of Commons Treasury Committee published a report which stated that while childcare vouchers could provide income tax and National Insurance relief worth up to £2,860 per parent, Tax-Free Childcare only provides £2 for every £8, up to a limit of £500 every three months. That’s £2,000 per year. The report also identified that with a take-up rate 90 per cent lower than initially expected, Tax-Free Childcare was clearly under-performing.

The six month extension was also a recognition of some of the problems with Tax-Free Childcare that have left many parents without access to essential financial support.

As I heard from providers this week, the childcare system is complex and chronically underfunded. The cost of childcare has risen by between 32 per cent and 47 per cent across England since 2010, while wages have only risen by around 16 per cent.

The government should abandon plans to phase out childcare vouchers for working parents from October.

I strongly support investment in childcare and believe there should be an extension of properly funded 30 hours of free childcare to all two, three and four year olds to give every child the best start in life.

Jul 20

Time to fight fatigue in the NHS

Fatigue logoI’m backing the campaign to #FightFatigue. It is no secret that our NHS is currently underfunded and under great strain, but what often goes unnoticed is the effect of that strain on NHS workers.

Tory spending cuts have led to staff having to work longer hours and increasingly sporadic shift patterns – both contribute to a fatigued NHS workforce.

The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland new campaign to raise awareness of the issue found that out of more than 2,150 anaesthetists, nearly three quarters reported that fatigue had a negative effect on their physical health or psychological wellbeing.

More than four in five (84 per cent) of anaesthetists felt too tired to drive home safely after a night shift and over half (57 per cent) said they had experienced an accident or near miss.

The fight against NHS fatigue should be a concern for us all.

That is why I am supporting the #FightFatigue campaign launched by The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine.

The professional organisations have  created resources for trainees and practitioners, including a ‘traffic light’ system to evaluate existing rest facilities, and outline ways for hospital management, doctors and other staff to work together on the issue.

It is in the best interests of patients that our NHS staff are able to work safely, and to do that there should be a minimum provision of free rest facilities within hospitals for ‘power naps’ when the demands of patient care allow, and for rest before staff travel home.

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