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.”

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP SUPPORTS NORTH OXFORDSHIRE CAMPAIGN FOR EVERY CHILD TO JOIN A LIBRARY

Victoria welcomes a local campaign encouraging all primary school children to take part in this year’s ‘Summer Reading Challenge’, which launches on 14 July.

The Summer Reading Challenge – a partnership between The Reading Agency and public libraries across the UK – encourages children to read at least six books over summer. This year’s theme is ‘Mischief Makers’, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Beano comic.

Victoria Prentis MP commented: “I hope parents, grandparents and carers in North Oxfordshire will take their children to the library over the summer to sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge.  It is free, inclusive and, most importantly, makes reading fun.  Last year 8279 children in Oxfordshire took part. I hope we can increase that number this year and show local libraries what a valuable asset they are to us and our community.

Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agency said: “At The Reading Agency, we believe that everything changes when we read and we know from our research how much fun families and children have when taking part in the Challenge. Mischief Makers offers intergenerational appeal and we hope this family friendly, accessible theme will inspire more children than ever to read over the holidays and make use of their local library throughout the summer and beyond.”

Mark Freeman, President of Libraries Connected, added: “The Summer Reading Challenge is one of the highlights of the year in libraries. Encouraging children to read over the summer holidays helps them to see reading as a fun way to spend their time and now they can get tips on creating a bit of mischief too! We are so pleased at Libraries Connected to continue our partnership with The Reading Agency and look forward to welcoming even more children into our libraries this summer.”

For more information on getting involved, visit www.readingagency.org.uk/summerreadingchallenge.

 

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.”

Victoria Prentis MP Speaks in Tuberculosis Debate

On Thursday 7 June, Victoria Prentis MP spoke in a debate on Tuberculosis. Bovine TB remains an issue in the North Oxfordshire constituency and Victoria’s speech focuses on the importance of adequate funding and improved access to diagnosis and treatment services.

Please see below for a full transcript of Victoria’s speech, taken from Hansard.

Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in the debate and to follow some excellent speeches. I hope that we do not have to wait a further 65 years before we have the opportunity to debate this important matter again. My right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) and the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr Sharma) are vocal campaigners on this subject. I am encouraged by the fact that we are now giving it the attention it deserves, particularly in the same week as the UN civil society hearing on the fight against tuberculosis.

I would like to add to some of the dreadful statistics we have heard this afternoon. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Dame Cheryl Gillan) pointed out that around the world an estimated 700 children a day die from this disease. I want to make it clear that 80% of those deaths occur before that child is five. Fewer than 5% of those children have access to the sort of treatment that we all know could save their lives. Treatment gets ever easier. Thanks to DFID-funded research, new child-friendly drugs have been developed. They taste of strawberry and can be added to water in a single dose, which makes things much easier for doctors and parents who until now have had to try to get children to take adult-sized pills. We have done the research on so much of this. We now need to ensure that the treatment programmes are rolled out so that many, many more of those 700 children a day who are dying of this disease get the treatment that they need.

I heard what the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg) said about treatment in countries where DFID is no longer actively engaged. That is critical in relation to the worldwide disease, but we should also be concerned that TB is still prevalent in the UK. Some of the highest rates in the developed world are found right here in the city we are standing in. My own family has personal experience of tuberculosis. When this matter was last debated in the Chamber, my grandfather was very ill and ultimately died of the disease in south Wales. Since I became an MP some three years ago, I have been surprised to note that I have had quite a lot of casework to do with TB in north Oxfordshire. One of those cases involves a constituent who moved to the UK in the late 1990s. He joined the British Army in 2009. During phase two of his basic training, he was diagnosed with TB. He had never been diagnosed with it before; it has been assumed that he contracted it during his training.

I have also had cases involving the immigration process for people applying for visas from countries including Morocco, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. They have to undergo quite invasive TB tests by a Home Office-approved clinic as part of their application process. Clearly, the Government, in the wider sense, recognise the extent of the problem, but there is perhaps not always the joined-up cross-departmental working needed to tackle it.

We should be proud of the Government’s efforts so far in the fight against tuberculosis. We should be proud of our contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The number of new TB infections is dropping. DFID’s support in developing new drug combinations to treat TB and the provision of funding to the TB Alliance demonstrates our commitment. In Oxfordshire—we heard earlier about Liverpool, so it is only fair that I mention Oxfordshire—we are fortunate to have one of the world’s largest TB vaccine research centres, based at the University of Oxford. With the support of the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, DFID and product development partnerships, the centre has been able to undertake cutting-edge research. I am hopeful that that will transform how we treat TB in the future.

There is clearly a great deal more to do. I am sure that the Minister will mention the progress we have made because of DFID’s investment in research. Like everybody else who has spoken, I would welcome assurances that the Prime Minister, or another senior Minister if she is unavailable, will attend the UN’s high-level meeting in September to ensure that research is appropriately funded and co-ordinated so that it can be sustained in future.

I am also concerned that primary healthcare services and maternal and child health programmes are too often run separately from TB programmes. Awareness among healthcare workers, and the capacity more broadly for diagnosis and treatment, remain limited. I hope that the Minister will be able to provide reassurances that she will look at how we improve access to vital diagnosis and treatment services, in particular for children with TB.

My grandfather probably got TB from infected milk. We do not know and we will never know. We still have much to learn about the way in which TB spreads and about cross-species transmission. I would not be doing my job as the Member for Banbury if I did not mention in a debate on TB the fact that bovine TB remains a very hot issue in the fields and market towns I represent. I appreciate that this falls outside the Minister’s remit, but I have serious concerns about the continued effect of bovine TB and its human impact on the farming communities I represent. The relevant Minister from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs met me and my hon. Friends the Members for Henley (John Howell) and for Witney (Robert Courts) earlier this week to discuss how to reduce TB in cows in our area. We looked at compensation levels for farmers and reduction mechanisms, such as whether we can stop store cattle being moved from high-risk to low-risk areas. We also talked about badger control. If we are to eradicate TB once and for all, we have to look at what is happening in species other than our own.

We have made great progress in the right direction, but there is still much more to do, both at home and abroad. I hope that we will have the chance to talk about tuberculosis many times before we reach our goal—hopefully well before 2030—of eliminating it.

 

 

NORTH OXFORDSHIRE MP WELCOMES TIER 2 VISA CHANGES

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North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis, has welcomed the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid’s, decision to relax Tier 2 visa restrictions for skilled workers coming into the UK. The easing of restrictions means that British businesses and employers will be able to hire up to an extra 8000 skilled migrants from across the world from a wide range of professions including medicine, teaching and engineering. The Home Office has confirmed that NHS doctors and nurses will be excluded from restrictions to the number of visas granted to skilled non-EU migrant workers.

Recruitment in health services has been an ongoing issue locally given the temporary downgrade of maternity services in Banbury. Following a visit to the Churchill hospital with Oxfordshire colleagues, Victoria has been a vocal supporter of relaxing Tier 2 visa requirements and has worked with local campaign groups, Parliamentary colleagues and the Government to achieve this.

Speaking this morning, Victoria said: “The Government’s decision to relax Tier 2 visa restrictions is a positive step towards helping recruitment, particularly in the NHS. I have had a number of meetings with businesses and health bosses locally to talk about recruitment and ways we can support it. Recruitment affects many industries in my constituency and I hope that this is just one of many solutions to support essential services in North Oxfordshire.”

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP JOINS ALZHEIMER’S SOCIETY CAMPAIGN TO FIX DEMENTIA CARE

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On Wednesday 23 May, Victoria joined over 90 other Members of Parliament at an Alzheimer’s Society event to launch their new report, Dementia – the true cost as part of their Fix Dementia Care campaign.

This Dementia Action Week (21-27 May) Alzheimer’s Society is asking the general public to take small actions that can have a big impact on the lives of people with dementia. MPs were asked to take action by attending an event in Westminster to learn more about how they can support Alzheimer’s Society’s work.

Alzheimer’s Society has been campaigning to fix dementia care to ensure that everyone with dementia receives good quality care when they need it. Their new report, Dementia – the true cost, highlights the far-reaching impact of the broken social care system on people with dementia.

The report, based on testimony and evidence from people affected by dementia, social care professionals and dementia lead nurses, also outlines urgent areas for Government to address in its upcoming Green Paper on social care reform. 

Victoria Prentis MP commented: “I am proud this Dementia Action Week to have united with people with dementia to fix dementia care. One million people will have dementia by 2021 and it is vital that we are able to deliver high quality social care to everyone that needs it.”

Sally Copley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society said: “This Dementia Action Week, as we’re asking everyone across the UK to take actions big or small to help people with dementia, it’s brilliant to see positive action from people and we’re looking forward to working with Victoria Prentis MP to respond to the public demand for change. Our Fix Dementia Care campaign has exposed the poor quality care that people with dementia are currently receiving, and this must end now.”

Earlier in Dementia Action Week, Alzheimer’s Society delivered Dementia Friends sessions to both the Cabinet and the Shadow Cabinet. Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends is a trailblazing initiative that aims to help people understand what it might be like to live with dementia and turn that understanding into actions.

MP VISITS ‘OUTSTANDING’ CARE HOME

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On Friday 4 May, Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, visited Godswell Park Care Home in her constituency to congratulate them on their ‘outstanding’ rating awarded to them by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last year. The Bloxham-based home is the first standalone general nursing home solely for older people in England out of the 18,000 registered with the CQC to achieve a score of outstanding in all five inspection areas.

Victoria was keen to visit Godswell and see the excellent work they are doing supporting the elderly. During the visit Victoria spoke to residents about a number of local and national issues as well as congratulating staff.

Victoria commented: “I was grateful for the opportunity to look around Godswell, meeting staff and residents. It takes a huge amount of hard work and dedication from all of the staff to offer such a high level of care, ensuring that residents remain safe and I’m thrilled I could congratulate them in person.”

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP CALLS ON NORTH OXFORDSHIRE TO SUPPORT EQUALITY WITH A CUP OF TEA

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To mark the centenary of some women getting the vote, and 90 years since men and women over 21 gained the right to vote, Victoria Prentis MP is inviting everyone in North Oxfordshire to sign-up to EqualiTeas to share, debate, and celebrate what equality means to them over a cup of tea.

 

2018 marks 100 years since The Representation of the People Act 1918 extended the right to vote to all men over 21 and the first women, making this one of the most important centenaries in British democratic history. Ten years later The Representation of the People Act 1928, gave all men and women over 21 the right to vote. These acts followed years of campaigning, with the first petition to Parliament asking for votes for women was presented to the House of Commons on 3 August 1832.

 

As part of programme of events from UK Parliament to mark these important milestones for democracy, EqualiTeas will take place between 18 June and 2 July.

Historically, tea parties were hotbeds of political activism. It was one of the few ways women could meet without men to discuss and plan. The leading suffrage organisations used tea parties and tea shops as central elements in their campaigning, to increase awareness, discuss tactics and raise money. But, events do not have to be a tea party, just an event or activity that brings people together to discuss equality, and anyone can hold an EqualiTeas tea party, whether it is big or small, private or public, inside or out.

 

Victoria Prentis MP said: “The Representation of the People Act 1928 was a vital step towards the rights women and men have today, and these anniversaries are an incredibly important opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have come.

 

“We all know that there is still more to do when it comes to equality in Britain, and EqualiTeas is an excellent opportunity to reach out to others in our community and share our ideas for an even more equal society, while celebrating the strides we have already made. I hope that groups across North Oxfordshire will get behind this exciting initiative.”

 

David Clark, Head of Education and Engagement at UK Parliament, said “Whether it’s chatting about the issues over a cup of tea, or engaging with one of the many exciting events as part of this year’s UK Parliament Week, there are many opportunities for schools, workplaces and community groups across North Oxfordshire to get involved in these key anniversaries.

 

“We can only work towards a more equal society by communicating with each other and building stronger communities, so please sign up for EqualiTeas to share the things we have in common and debate the changes we would like to see.”

 

Everyone who registers an event on the EqualiTeas website (equaliteas.org.uk) will receive a free pack of resources, including an EqualiTeas board game. Visit Parliament’s resource page for help with ideas, planning and publicising your event.

 

The Vote 100 programme includes a wide range of events and activities commemorating the women and men who fought to achieve electoral equality. Parliament has also released a series of hard-hitting films to highlight how four key acts changed the lives of women as part of its Your Story, Our History series.

 

There will be a major exhibition in Parliament – “Voice and Vote” – as well as an exciting programme of talks and tours in Parliament, and a number of UK-wide events, such as UK Parliament Week 2018.

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP “THRILLED” BY CCG RECOMMENDATION TO KEEP A&E AND PAEDIATRICS AT THE HORTON GENERAL HOSPITAL

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North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis has welcomed a comprehensive document published today by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group in advance of its Board meeting next Thursday.

 

The Oxfordshire Transformation Update (Paper No. 18/18) sets out a new approach to move forward its controversial consultation exercise with a focus on place-based discussion and early engagement where the needs of local populations can be considered alongside factors including rurality and local community assets. If the Board agrees to the changes at its Board meeting, the long-awaited Phase Two consultation will be abandoned.

 

Alongside the change in approach, the Board is recommended to agree that A&E and associated services at the Horton General Hospital remain, as well as the paediatric service.

 

The Board Paper also makes clear that the CCG is committed to produce a plan and undertake further work on the possible options for maternity services at the Horton. Acting on the advice of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, the CCG recognises that any further work must consider the views of mothers, families and staff, dependencies between services and the needs of all those in the Horton’s catchment area. Recruitment efforts must continue.

 

Victoria Prentis MP commented:

 

“The Oxfordshire Transformation Update is the clearest indication yet that the Clinical Commissioning Group is finally listening to all of us in North Oxfordshire. For too long now, the future of acute services at the Horton has been unclear. Today we have the answers we have been looking for. The uncertainty can be put to rest. A&E and paediatrics will remain at the Horton, and it is back to the drawing board with maternity.

 

“The decision to abandon Phase Two is long overdue. I am cautiously optimistic by the CCG’s suggestion to move forward with place-based discussions. Ensuring local residents feel that they have a genuine voice when it comes to the future of their health services, including community hospitals, is at the heart of any good consultation exercise.

 

“I urge the Board to agree to this new approach next week and will look forward to working closely with the Clinical Commissioning Group, particularly the Chief Executive Lou Patten. She may have only been in post since January but she is already making a positive impact on our local health service with her visionary approach.”
The Board documents can be found here

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