Category Archives: Victoria in Parliament

VICTORIA CONTRIBUTES TO URGENT PRISON QUESTION

On Thursday 13 September, Victoria Prentis MP contributed to the Urgent Question on the Government’s plans for HMP Bedford.

Mohammad Yasin (Bedford):

(Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make a statement on the Government’s plans for HMP Bedford.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Rory Stewart):

May I begin by paying tribute to the hon. Gentleman for bringing forward this urgent question? We spoke briefly on the telephone yesterday. I know that he is a champion of the interests of the people of Bedford and Bedford prison, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to discuss this in more detail.

I begin by setting the broader context of what is happening at Bedford prison and then talk more specifically about what we need to do to resolve the serious issues in Bedford prison.

A number of local prisons with significant challenges have come before the House in the past six months, of which Bedford is the latest. I want to clarify a number of things before I focus specifically on the issues at Bedford. The first is that some of these issues are fundamental to any prison. Prisons are challenging places to run at the best of times. By definition, the people inside a prison do not want to be there, and we are now facing a cohort of people in prison who have multiple needs. Nearly half the people in prison have a reading age of under 11, and nearly 30% have a reading age of under six. Very large numbers are coming to prison directly out of care at the moment, and only 18% of people coming into prison had a job beforehand.

There is also a rising tide of violence in prisons. I am pleased that Royal Assent has today been given to the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant). The Bill clarifies that this is not just an issue in prisons. Assaults against police officers have risen to an all-time high, and assaults on ambulance workers have risen to a very disturbing level. It would have been almost inconceivable 30 years ago for someone to get into an ambulance and assault the paramedic who was trying to treat them. It was almost unheard of 30 years ago for prisoners to assault prison officers, yet last year there were more than 9,000 such assaults.

With your permission, Mr Speaker, in relation to Bedford prison, I will return to the question of how we address violence in prisons and how the new legislation brought in by the hon. Member for Rhondda, which we on this side of the House are proud to support, will help to address some of the issues.

The second thing I want to put on record is that although there are many challenges in prisons, there have been improvements. It is worth remembering in this difficult atmosphere that some things are getting better. The situation relating to escapes and security is much better than at any time in the past. Similarly, while any suicide is a tragedy, because of our understanding of the drivers of suicide and the evidence that we gather, the measures that we are taking are beginning to work. The suicide rate is now considerably lower than it was a year ago, two years ago or indeed in the historical past, because we are beginning to address that issue. We also have a much better idea about how to deal with some of the underlying issues around reoffending. Our ​first night reception centres are much stronger, as are the family links that we are able to promote. More prisoners are now actively in work or education than before, and the education strategy ensures that the education they receive is much more relevant to the workplace.

Nevertheless, as the hon. Member for Bedford and the chief inspector have pointed out, there are three very significant challenges in Bedford. The first is a big problem around decency and conditions in Bedford. The second is a problem around drugs in Bedford. The third is a problem around violence, particularly assaults against prison officers in Bedford. How do we deal with this? Bearing in mind that there are underlying problems in all local prisons and that the problems we are talking about—decency, drugs and violence—are familiar from inspections in other places, what is it that gives me some hope that we can turn this around? Do we have a plan to turn this around?

The answer is that there are prisons out there in the country—local prisons with similar problems to Bedford—that are already showing that we can tackle these issues. Hull is a good example, as is Preston. There has also been a significant improvement in tackling exactly these kinds of issues in Leeds over the past three months. In Bedford, we put the prison into special measures some months ago, and we are now beginning to see some key improvements. We are seeing improvements in the physical infrastructure, more investment is going into windows, the mental health provision is better than it was, areas such as the showers and the segregation unit are better than they were, and we are now bringing in a more experienced management team.

However, that still leaves those three fundamental problems to be dealt with. How do we deal with them? Addressing the issue of drugs is first a question of technology. We have done a lot to understand the criminal networks through gathering intelligence on how the drugs are getting in, but there is much more we can do to get the right scanners in place to investigate the drugs being carried in in people’s bodies, and to spend money on the scanners to investigate drugs being put in the post that is getting into the prison.

Decency is fundamentally a question of spending money, which is why we are putting an extra £40 million into addressing basic issues, such as windows. That is not just about producing decent living conditions for prisoners—

Victoria Prentis (Banbury):

This report is particularly damning, and it is the fourth such report in recent times. It talks of men who are locked up for 23 hours a day without food or lavatory paper.

I accept that the Minister is doing his level best to sort out the situation, and I wholeheartedly support his reforms, including those to increase the number of prison officers and to work hard on rehabilitation, but if we are to continue incarcerating this number of people, we simply have to ask the Treasury for more money so that we can do it safely. Does he agree?

Rory Stewart:

We are definitely putting in more investment, and we need to put in more investment. That is why we are spending £40 million on additional improvements in the existing infrastructure, and that is why we will spend well over £1 billion on building new prisons, but the urgent problem we face will not be addressed overnight by new prisons. These prisons will take serious time to build, and the problem will have to be addressed on the landings and outside the cells by legislative measures such as the Bill tabled by the hon. Member for Rhondda, by body-worn cameras, by CCTV, by training and, above all, by management and support for staff.

MP SUPPORTS FARMING IN NORTH OXFORDSHIRE

North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis,  has shown her support for British farming at Back British Farming Day in Westminster, recognising the crucial role farmers play in producing food and caring for the countryside.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) provided MPs with a Back British Farming wheat-pin badge to publicly display their support for the sector during Brexit negotiations and beyond leaving the EU. The day also marked the Government’s introduction of its Agriculture Bill, supporting habitats, prevent flooding, improve air quality and animal welfare. Working with farmers, it is hoped that the Bill will secure better rewards for those in the industry.

Farming is the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink – which contributes over £110 billion to the economy and employs 3.8 million people.

After the event, Victoria said: “As a farmer’s daughter, I am pleased to support a sector that is so valuable to the country. Our farmers play a unique role in producing food, looking after our beautiful countryside and sustaining the rural economy. The decisions made in Parliament over the coming months are critical to the future of food production. As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s departure from the EU, it is important that we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide safe and affordable food for the nation.”

If you would like to find out more about how you can Back British Farming, you can join thousands of supporters of the NFU’s campaign here.

MP backs Scotch Whisky budget freeze

On 11 September Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, met distillery workers and representatives of the Scotch Whisky Association to discuss the importance of the Scotch whisky industry to the economy.

Representing a fifth of UK food and drink exports, the industry generates more than £5bn for the economy per year and 40,000 jobs. At their event on 11 September, the Scotch Whisky Association called on the Chancellor to freeze alcohol duty in the Autumn Budget, extending measures set out in November 2017. Since its introduction in February, the freeze on spirits duty has returned more than £1.6bn, an increase of £114m on receipts during the same period in 2017.

MP for North Oxfordshire, Victoria Prentis said:

“Scotch whisky is one of the largest net contributors to the UK’s trade in goods, with 39 bottles shipped every second. A continued freeze is the best way to support the public finances and protect ongoing industry investment. Given its links to the economy and employment, we must ensure the industry remains competitive.”

Graeme Littlejohn, Deputy Director for the Scotch Whisky Association, said:

“Scotch Whisky is a success story for the economy, and we’re grateful for Victoria’s support. The industry’s success is based on the hard work of distillery workers across Scotland, and the members of our supply chain up and down the country. We have seen our industry deliver billions of pounds for the country in exports, and our members are continually investing in communities across Scotland.

“It is important that such successes are allowed to continue, and are supported by government. The Government’s own figures show the Chancellor was right to freeze alcohol duty in 2017, and that public finances have benefitted as a result. We believe continuing a freeze is a responsible and sensible way to ensure the Scotch Whisky industry can continue to thrive”

North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis, celebrates Banbury’s efforts in fighting Blood Cancer

Residents in Banbury have been praised by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, which has seen 1634 people register as stem cell donors in the past 12 months. To mark ‘Blood Cancer Awareness Month’ this September, Victoria Prentis MP collected a certificate on behalf of all those people from Banbury that have donated stem cells at a reception on Wednesday 12 September in Westminster.

The achievement is being celebrated by Anthony Nolan as part of its Communities vs Blood Cancer campaign – which shines a spotlight on the vital work being done at a local level to ensure every patient in need of a stem cell transplant can find a lifesaving donor.

Victoria said: “I’m really pleased so many of my constituents have got involved with Anthony Nolan’s work. Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure. I hope that more people from our community will be inspired to sign up.”

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “Since 1974 thousands of caring, selfless people have joined the Anthony Nolan register and thousands of lives have been saved as a result.

This Blood Cancer Awareness Month residents can be proud of all the lifesavers in your community. It’s wonderful to have the support of North Oxfordshire in achieving our goal of saving and improving the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders.”

 

MP WEARS IT PINK FOR FUNDRAISER

North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis, joined her Westminster colleagues this week in supporting Breast Cancer Now’s ‘wear it pink’ fundraiser, which will take place in Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Friday 19 October.

Wear it pink day calls for people all across the UK to wear pink and donate in an effort to raise money for Breast Cancer Now. Anyone can take part, and to date the campaign has raised over £31million towards Breast Cancer Now’s important work.

Victoria Prentis MP said: “Breast cancer is still the most common form of cancer and every year 11,500 women and 80 men lose their lives to the disease. Wear it pink is an easy way to have fun with family and friends while raising money for Breast Cancer Now’s important research. Breast cancer affects so many people in North Oxfordshire, so I hope that everybody will get involved to support this important campaign.”

Donna Fraser, four-time Olympian for Great Britain and Breast Cancer Now Ambassador added: “Breast cancer awareness and raising funds for research is hugely important to me – there are too many women being diagnosed with breast cancer, and sadly too many women still lose their lives each year. This cause is very close to my heart, and as someone who has personally been through breast cancer, I know the just how important it is to raise money for research, to help reach a day where nobody dies from breast cancer. For me, that day can’t come soon enough.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, also said: “We are really grateful for the enthusiasm and support shown by the MPs at Westminster. We hope that by wearing pink, Victoria will encourage her constituents in north Oxfordshire to get involved and help us to continue to fundraise to fund world-class research into this devastating disease.

“Wear it pink is a fantastic opportunity for communities across the UK to come together, have fun and show their support to this very important cause. Together we are taking steps forward to reach our goal that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and live well.”

To take part in wear it pink this October, please visit: www.wearitpink.org/signup-mp for further details, fundraising ideas and information on how to register for your free fundraising pack.

NORTH OXON MP INTERVENES IN VICTIMS STRATEGY DEBATE

On Monday 10 September, North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis, intervened on the Victims Strategy Debate, welcoming the Minister’s statement. 

 

With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a statement. Today, the Secretary of State for Justice and I are launching the Government’s victims strategy, which sets out our vision for victims of crime in England and Wales. That vision is of a justice system that supports even more victims to speak up with the certainty that they will be understood, protected and supported, whether or not they report a crime and regardless of their circumstances or background.

However, no single Department, agency or emergency service alone can provide the services that victims rightly expect to receive, as shown by recent major incidents and tragedies such as the Grenfell Tower fire and terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. To truly deliver on our vision, we must all work together. That is why we have today published, for the first time, a cross-Government victims strategy, further delivering on this Government’s commitment to ensure that victims of crime get the support they need.

This strategy is the latest milestone in improving that support for victims and builds on important progress over the past few years under Governments of both parties, such as the establishment of the first code of practice for victims in 2006; the appointment of the first Victims’ Commissioner to champion the interests of victims and witnesses in 2010; and the publication of “Getting it right for victims and witnesses” in 2012, which set out the Government’s approach to ensuring that victims and witnesses get the support they need.

The victims strategy consolidates and builds on that progress but recognises that more still needs to be done. I thank and pay tribute to all the victims, victims’ groups and experts who have willingly shared their experiences and sat on the victims panel, and to my predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee), who initiated this work. I also pay tribute to my officials and to my opposite number in the Home Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Louth and Horncastle (Victoria Atkins), for their work on the strategy. To achieve what we wish to, we must work together.

The nature of crime is changing and we must adapt our response to meet that challenge. Although overall crime has fallen, incidents of some of the most serious crimes have risen. Serious violent crime has increased and the reporting of sexual offending has also risen. In the year ending March 2018, there was a 24% increase in reported sexual offences, compared with the previous year.

The message from victims is clear: they want to be treated with dignity, humanity and compassion; they want clear, timely and accurate information about what is happening with their cases from day one; and they want the opportunity and support to make their voices heard as justice is done. To help to achieve that, the strategy sets out a system-wide response to improving the support offered to all victims of crime, throughout the criminal justice process, and incorporates actions from all criminal justice agencies, including the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts. We must ensure that those who are victims of crime do not become victims of the process.

First, we want to strengthen the victims code and make it fit for the future. Our data tells us that fewer than 20% of victims are even aware of the code. Those who are often find it too lengthy and too confusing, with too many agencies involved. We will therefore revise the code, make it more user-friendly and reduce the number of contact points. We will also strengthen entitlements in key areas such as the victim personal statement and support for victims of mentally disordered offenders. We will test the proposed changes to the code in a public consultation in early 2019, and aim to have a revised code in place by the end of 2019.

We have reaffirmed our manifesto commitment to a victims law. The consultation will consider how best to enshrine victims’ entitlements in law and the detail of the necessary legislation, and it will include boosting the powers of the Victims’ Commissioner, who already plays a vital role in holding agencies to account. In that context, I pay particular tribute to Baroness Newlove for all her work over the past six years to promote and protect the interests of victims and witnesses.

The criminal injuries compensation scheme must reflect the changing nature of crime. We will therefore review the entire scheme, with a particular focus on how we treat the victims of child sexual abuse and terrorism. That will include examining eligibility criteria and abolishing the arbitrary and unfair “same roof” rule, so that victims can get the compensation that they are rightly due.

From Hillsborough to Grenfell, there have been too many failures properly to support those affected by disasters, so today, in this strategy, we have set out our plans for an independent public advocate, and in tandem we have published a consultation on the detail of that role—supporting bereaved families so that those failures cannot be repeated and so that we can properly support victims from the beginning of a disaster right through to the application of justice and beyond.

Building on the work we commenced earlier this year to improve the parole process, the strategy sets out how we will improve communication and support for victims during what can be for many a difficult time, when memories of crimes committed years ago are relived. We will simplify the victim contact scheme and improve the quality of communication. We will make it easier for victims to make victim personal statements at parole hearings, and we will roll out revised training for victim liaison officers so that they are better equipped and prepared to support victims through parole hearings. That can and should help to ensure that past failings can never be repeated.

The strategy highlights the extra funding that we are providing for victims, including by increasing spending to improve services and pathways for survivors and victims of sexual violence and abuse. That spending includes £8 million on interventions to ensure that support is available to children who witness domestic abuse. Other measures include improved training for the police, including guidance on supporting victims through the interview process and collecting evidence; the trialling of body-worn cameras for taking victim personal statements, so that victims have a choice in how their story is heard; and expanding support for families bereaved by gang violence. The recent spate of gang-related violence, particularly in London, has shone a spotlight on the devastation that gun and knife crime can cause to families. We will also bring in new funding for advocacy support for those affected by domestic homicide. New guidance on pre-trial therapy to reduce the perception that it will damage the prosecution case will also be brought forward.

In developing the strategy, we have engaged extensively with victims, victims’ groups and the Victims’ Commissioner. That has ensured that the strategy is informed by those who have had direct experience of being a victim, as well as by those with frontline expertise who have supported them.

This strategy is not a quick fix. It is about building on the work to date so that we can better support victims in the future. It is also about giving them the confidence that, no matter their background, their individual circumstances, or the crime that has been committed against them, the support they need will be there.

This is the first time that we have looked in such detail and in such a joined-up way at how we treat victims in the wake of crime. This strategy is a marker for the way we should see ourselves as a nation—one that offers dignity, empathy and compassion to people when they are at their most vulnerable. It is something on which there is broad consensus across this House. On this agenda, the Opposition have, in my experience, always been constructive and positive in their engagement with the Government and I hope that that constructive approach will continue as we deliver the strategy.

Delivery of the strategy will now commence in earnest, as we continue to progress towards a system that supports even more victims to speak up by giving them the certainty that they will be understood, supported and protected throughout their journey. I commend this statement to the House.

I thank the Minister for his statement. This really is a great day for victims. There is much to be very pleased with in the statement and the document that joins it. Let me focus on the “same roof rule”—an issue on which I have been campaigning for many years. I was particularly pleased with the change to that rule in a world in which most sex offenders are known to their victims. This is very important. Will he give us greater detail as to when it is likely that the change will come into effect?

 

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who is quite right to highlight the importance of this change. She has campaigned very strongly on this issue, as has the hon. Member for Rotherham (Sarah Champion). Only recently, my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart) highlighted the very important campaigning of his constituent, Alissa Moore, on this issue and the huge impact that that has had on bringing about change.

My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Victoria Prentis) asks about timescales. We will be responding to IICSA, the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, which plays into this agenda, but at this stage we anticipate that we will be looking to consult early in 2019.

 

The above account is taken from the official House of Commons Hansard for 10 September 2018. 

VICTORIA CONTRIBUTES TO URGENT PRISON QUESTION

(Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make a statement on his Government’s plans for HMP Birmingham.

I would like to begin by paying tribute to the work of the chief inspector, in particular in relation to Birmingham, and indeed his entire inspection team.

The situation in HMP Birmingham was simply unacceptable. It was shocking in terms of the levels of violence, in terms of the response to those levels of violence, in terms of the drugs, and in terms of basic decency. The situation in Birmingham has of course been of considerable concern for some time; I visited personally in the week before the inspector issued the report for that reason. The Secretary of State for Justice, the Lord Chancellor, also made a personal visit to Birmingham, and the chief executive of the Prison Service also visited Birmingham.

The reason for this is that over the last few weeks and months we have been increasingly concerned about G4S’s inability to turn around the situation. The steps we took were initially to issue a notice to improve, followed by a second notice to improve. I then held meetings with G4S in London at which it replaced its governor—who had been in place for 18 months—and brought in a new governor. It then brought in a new team; we came up with a new action plan and a new team was brought in by the Ministry to work alongside it.

Notwithstanding all the steps that Birmingham and G4S took over those months, the conclusion that we reluctantly reached in the week before the inspector published his urgent notification was that G4S would not be able on its own to turn around the significant problems of Birmingham. Therefore the decision was made to take the unprecedented step of the Government stepping in and taking over control. That means in effect three things. First, we have brought in a highly experienced governor from the public sector, Mr Paul Newton, who has taken over as the governor of the prison. Secondly, we have reduced the number of prisoners in Birmingham prison by 300, which has allowed us to take key cells out of operation and renovate them. Thirdly, we have brought in an additional 32 highly experienced public sector prison staff in order to support the team on the ground.

All of this will be done with no cost to the taxpayer, and I want to take this opportunity also to say that, notwithstanding the very significant problems at Birmingham, there are dedicated, serious professional staff on the ground who have been facing a very difficult situation. There have been real challenges around drugs and leadership. We are confident that, with Paul Newton and the new team and the reduction in numbers, we can stabilise that prison, address the drugs and the violence, and turn it around and restore the confidence to the team.

I anticipate that this could rapidly become a debate over the merits or otherwise of privatisation, and I am expecting that the shadow Secretary of State will almost certainly go in that direction. For what it is worth, we on this side of the House do not believe that this is primarily an ideological battle. The situation in Birmingham has been serious for some time. It was a Labour Secretary of State for Justice who initially decided to proceed with the privatisation of Birmingham in 2010, although it was a Conservative Secretary of State who finally let the contract. The company concerned, G4S, has clearly significantly failed in Birmingham, but at the same time, as hon. Members such as the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mrs Moon) can confirm, it is running an impressive prison in Parc and at Altcourse in Liverpool, which is performing well particularly in education and work, while Parc is doing well on family services. The BBC has just produced a very positive report on its performance at Oakwood as well.

So this is not primarily about the difference between the public and the private sector. Sadly, there have been significant challenges also within the public sector, at Nottingham prison, at Liverpool and at Exeter most recently. Indeed the chief inspector of prisons himself underlined that this is not primarily about public against private, but is about basic issues primarily around drugs, violence and management. We will be focusing on those three things above all through this step-in, and, as I have said, at no cost to the taxpayer.

Does my hon. Friend agree that this debate is not about public or private management of prisons but is, in fact, about when it is appropriate for the Government to step in when prisons are failing? If I may say so, this debate is also about when it is appropriate for a Minister to take responsibility for the Prison Service, as I was pleased to read over the summer that he is willing to do.

Without getting dragged into an ideological discussion about public versus private, hopefully both sides of the House can agree that, if we are to have privatised systems, the best way for them to operate is by having the right degree of Government regulation and intervention when things go wrong. Whether we are talking about water, utilities or, indeed, prisons, we cannot have a system in which the Government do not have a clear grip. I hope stepping in at Birmingham demonstrates that the Government are prepared to do that when we reach this situation.

The above account is taken from the official House of Commons Hansard for 4 September 2018. 

NORTH OXFORDSHIRE MP SIGNS UP TO ‘SCROLL FREE SEPTEMBER’

Victoria Prentis MP backs social media blackout campaign to improve mental health and wellbeing

Vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing, Victoria Prentis MP said she is “really pleased” that she is able to lend her support to the Scroll Free September campaign. Run by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), the initiative asks users to stop or cut down use of all personal social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the month.

The initiative follows the publication of the RSPH’s #StatusofMind report in 2017, which found that although social media has a range of both positive and negative effects on the mental health and wellbeing of young people, the net effect is currently negative. Many users find that regular use of social media can lead to heightened feelings of anxiety and depression, poor sleep, body image issues and fear of missing out (FoMO).

Like other public health awareness months, such as Dry January and Stoptober, participation in Scroll Free September will be a challenge, especially for young people raised with technology ever-present in their lives. Half of 18-34 year olds say going completely cold turkey will be ‘hard’ or ‘impossible’, and one in 10 18-24 year olds think it will be ‘impossible’.

Victoria Prentis MP said:

“I am really pleased that I am able to lend my support to Scroll Free September. I am an active user of social media, given my role as a Member of Parliament so I am sure the first few days of the blackout will be a challenge. However, as the mother of teenage daughters I am only too aware of the negative impact social media can have on the mental health and wellbeing of children these days. Initiatives like Scroll Free September provide a welcome opportunity for users to reflect and to build a healthier, more balanced relationship with social media. I would encourage my constituents to get behind the campaign too!”

Announcing the campaign, Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said:

“Social media has become a part of almost everyone’s life, revolutionising the way we communicate and share information. It has great potential to have positive impacts on mental health and wellbeing by connecting people in new ways. However, as our #StatusOfMind report showed, for many of us, especially our young people, the overall impact on mental health and wellbeing may currently be a detrimental one.

“Scroll Free September offers us all the opportunity to take back control of our relationship with social media, whether you choose to go cold turkey, or just abstain at social events or in the evening. The aim is that by the end of the month, we will be able to reflect back on what we missed, what we didn’t, and what we got to enjoy instead of scrolling through our newsfeeds. That knowledge could help us build a healthier, more balanced relationship with social media in the future.

“Of course, we know this will be a challenge because of the addictive nature of social media technology, which is why we need to work closely with the Government and the social media industry to create an online environment that is more conducive to positive mental health and wellbeing. The ongoing work of the APPG on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing will play a vital part in this.”

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health, said:

“Scroll Free is right to highlight growing concerns that social media is contributing to increasing mental health issues in young people and a major ramp up of services will be needed to deal with the problems as part of the NHS 10 year plan. We need to see concerted action, with everyone taking responsibility, including social media giants, so the NHS is not left to pick up the pieces of a mental health epidemic in the next generation.”

Find out more and sign up to take part in the campaign from 27 July at www.scrollfreeseptember.org.

 

North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis, commits her support to Clean Air Day

Earlier this week, Victoria Prentis MP attended a photo-call in Westminster ahead of Clean Air Day, to express her support for action to help support plans to reduce pollution in North Oxfordshire.

The event was organised by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), with MPs calling for national action to make the UK’s air safe to breathe. This is particularly important for constituents with heart and circulatory conditions, who are at increased risk from air pollution.

Air pollution is now the greatest environmental risk factor linked to death in the UK, with 58 % of air pollution related deaths worldwide caused by heart disease or stroke. The BHF’s research has shed light on how harmful pollutants, such as particulate matter (small particles found in emissions from diesel engines and wood burning stoves), can have a direct impact on cardiovascular health and increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Clean air is an issue that has been discussed locally with Victoria, local Councillors and Leader of Cherwell District Council, Cllr Barry Wood, about the quality of air in Bicester, particularly given local growth.

Following the event, Victoria commented: ‘It is important that work to improve air quality so that my constituents living with heart and circulatory conditions do not need to worry about dirty air damaging their health when they leave the house. This is a particular concern for a number of individuals in my constituency, especially within areas of growth.”

Banbury MP Questions Jeremy Hunt MP on Funding for Patient Returns

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of a new long-term funding plan for the NHS, Banbury MP Victoria Prentis questioned the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt, about funding for patient returns.

The following transcript of Victoria’s speech has been taken from Hansard.

Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con): On Friday, I was lucky enough to visit the award-winning neck of femur service at the great Horton General Hospital. The length of time that patients stay is very dependent on great links between the hospital and social care. Does my right hon. Friend agree that spending to save is possible, so that even more of this great funding can be spent on patient returns?

Mr Hunt responded with “absolutely. The most important way of spending to save is to invest in prevention, and a lot of that work comes from strong local hospitals. Before my hon. Friend finally leaves this place, I have no doubt at all that her local hospital will be called not the Horton General Hospital, but the Great Horton General Hospital.”

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