Secretary of State for International Development repeats her support for Singing for Syrians

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Victoria Prentis MP spoke in International Development Questions on Wednesday 12 July 2017, raising the issue of aid spending in the region around Syria and thanking the Speaker and the Secretary of State for their support of her own charity initiative, Singing for Syrians.

Speaking after the question session, Victoria said: ‘Since it started in 2015, the Government has been very supportive of Singing for Syrians so I was grateful for the Secretary of State’s response to my question on Wednesday. There were 85 events in 2016 – many of which took place in North Oxfordshire – and we raised a fantastic £140,000 for the Hands Up Foundation. So far, the money has gone to paying the salaries of the medical team in Aleppo, funding a prosthetic limb clinic and we are now focusing on supporting a school for disabled children in Damascus. The initiative really does help the most vulnerable who remain in Syria and the surrounding region.

We are now gearing up for the re-launch in September, and have already fixed a date for our flagship event in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster on Tuesday 12 December. The concerts are really easy to organise, so hopefully people in North Oxfordshire will consider holding their own.’

More information and fundraising packs can be found at www.singingforsyrians.com or email victoria.prentis.mp@parliament.uk.

 

The below account is taken from the Official Report from 12 July 2017:

Mr Speaker: Order. We might not reach the question tabled by the hon. Member for Banbury (Victoria Prentis), so if she wants to come in now, she can, although it is not obligatory.

Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con): How kind! May I use this opportunity to thank you, Mr Speaker, for your support for Singing for Syrians? I also thank the Department for International Development for its support. As a result of all the support we have received from across the House, Singing for Syrians is now able to support not only medical aid in Syria but a school for disabled children. Does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State agree that aid is always worth more when it is spent in the region, and that what the people caught up in this terrible conflict really want is to be able to stay as close to home as possible? [900369]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Priti Patel): My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I congratulate her and everyone else who has been involved in Singing for Syrians. It is an incredible charity, and I commend her for her work. She is right to highlight the fact that providing support in region is what makes a difference in terms of changing and saving lives. We have led the way in this. The United Kingdom has spent more than £2.46 billion in Syria and the region, providing hope and opportunity to those who have been displaced through conflict.

 

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP REOPENS BICESTER GREEN WITH MAYOR AND COUNCILLOR, LES SIBLEY

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On Friday 7 July, Victoria Prentis joined Bicester Mayor, Cllr Les Sibley to reopen Bicester Green at their new purpose-built premises next to Garth Park.

Bicester Green is a local organisation supporting waste reduction by taking bikes, furniture and electrical items from landfill to refurbish and repair. As a body reliant on volunteers, Bicester Green brings together a variety of skills from within the community, as well as providing education and training for its members.

In addition, Bicester Green is now advertising practical training courses for anyone who is unemployed and wants to develop new skills and widen their career opportunities.

Following the opening, Victoria commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed looking around Bicester Green’s new, purpose-built premises and meeting volunteers. It was a pleasure to join Cllr Les Sibley for the opening, and get involved in this exciting new era for the group.

Litter and waste are important issues for me, and Bicester Green is a prime example of a valuable community asset that is totally committed to tackling social problems.”

For more information about the work of Bicester Green, visit www.bicestergreen.org.uk/.

VICTORIA OPENS SHELSWELL HISTORY FESTIVAL

On Friday 7 July, Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, opened the first Shelswell History Festival. The festival, which took place north of Bicester, compromised of re-enactments, talks and guided walks intended to increase the interest and knowledge about the history of the local Shelswell area.

During the opening, Victoria spoke to the volunteers who helped put the festival together, and visited a number of stands detailing the history of villages in the North Oxfordshire constituency. The event was also well attended by local food producers, including freshly squeezed apple juice from the Shelswell Park Estate and local ice cream.

Speaking after the opening, Victoria said, “Having grown up in the area, I am proud of North Oxfordshire’s history. It is events like this allow for both education and community spirit. It was a pleasure opening the festival, and meeting all the volunteers who put an enormous amount of hard work into the weekend. I look forward to many more in future years.”

For more information about the Festival, please visit http://www.shelswellhistoryfestival.org.uk.

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP SUPPORTS THE BRITISH COUNCIL’S FUTURE LEADERS CONNECT SCHEME

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Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, is supporting the British Council’s search for a new generation of leaders to join individuals from ten other countries for an intensive policy and leadership programme. Future Leaders Connect, launched this year by the British Council, will offer nine days of leadership learning and development for young people to provide them with the skills they need to turn innovative ideas into tangible policy recommendations. Those taking part will meet some of today’s leading thinkers from public, private, third sector and political worlds.

 

Commenting after meeting representatives from the British Council at the House of Commons, Victoria said: ‘I am a huge supporter of any initiative that gets young people from different countries engaging with each other. I really benefitted from a similar scheme, and my own daughters go on foreign exchanges every year. We need to inspire the leaders of the future from all over the world, and I am really excited about this new opportunity from the British Council. I would urge any young people from North Oxfordshire who want to make a difference to apply.’

 

Sir Ciarán Devane, the Chief Executive of the British Council, said: ‘An international outlook is vital for the future leaders of all countries, if they wish to overcome the challenges they will face. Through Future Leaders Connect the British Council will help a new generation to understand practical policy development by putting them in contact with the leaders of today. The programme will help them to develop the skills and international contacts they need to make positive change in their countries.’

 

Anyone who would like to take part needs to submit an online application by 23.59 Thursday 20 July 2017 (BST). They will be asked what their unique policy ideas are and about their experience as a leader. www.britishcouncil.org/future-leaders-connect.

 

Ten finalists from across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will be awarded a fully funded place as part of Future Leaders Connect. They will join finalists from Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tunisia and the USA.

BANBURY MP QUESTIONS JEREMY HUNT ABOUT TRAINING ACCREDITATION

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During Health Questions in the House  on Tuesday 4 July, Victoria Prentis MP took the opportunity to ask the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, about training accreditation and the potential domino effect on service provision following a decision by Health Education England.

She asked: “Will the Secretary of State reassure my constituents that the component parts of the NHS can communicate with each other sufficiently to ensure that decisions such as the one by a medical dean to remove accreditation for anaesthetic training will not lead to the closure of A&E departments in hospitals such as Horton general, where my father was treated so well last Friday?”.

Following the downgrade of the Horton’s maternity unit, owing to staff shortages and a lack of training accreditation for obstetricians, Victoria was keen to impress the importance of training in relation to the long-term sustainability of acute hospital services. In his response, the Secretary of State agreed that changes to training patterns must not interrupt the delivery of local services in a “disadvantageous way”.

Speaking afterwards, Victoria said: “There is no doubt that the loss of training accreditation for obstetricians in Banbury has had a detrimental impact on maternity services in the area. It is vital that the same does not happen to A&E, and anaesthetic training is retained at the Horton. A knock on effect from the removal of any further training would further inhibit our hospital services. I am glad that I had the opportunity to raise this matter with the Secretary of State for Health, and I will be meeting the Dean of our local Trust soon to discuss my concerns.”

VICTORIA REOPENS SIBFORD VILLAGE HALL

On Friday 30 June, Victoria reopened the Sibford Village Hall following a £30,000 transformation. The upgrades include energy efficient windows and doors, new insulation and state-of-the-art, low energy LED lighting. In order to accommodate hearing impaired users, there are further plans to introduce an audio-visual system.

Organisations that helped to fund the refurbishment include the Big Lottery Fund, the Midcounties Co-Operative, the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment, the Doris Field Charitable Trust, the Town Estates Charity and village Parish Councils. The villagers even rolled up their sleeves to help with decorating and final touches.

At the opening, Victoria commented: “I was delighted to be asked to reopen the village hall in Sibford, and celebrate the hard work of the community and local organisations. Their support has enabled such a successful refurbishment, creating an accessible and welcoming community space. Having grown up, and now living in a village, I know how important village hall facilities are and I look forward to visiting the hall again in the future.”

David Allen, Development Funding Manager for the Hall added, “Much of the funding for our £30,000 project has come from charitable grants and we are hugely grateful to the Big Lottery Fund, the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment, Grundon Ltd, the Midcounties Co-operative, the Doris Field Charitable Trust, the Town Estates Charity and our village Parish Councils for all their invaluable support”.

Victoria Prentis’ statement on public sector pay

‘Before I became a Member of Parliament, I was a senior civil servant and managed a team that effectively had no pay increase for seven consecutive years. I saw first-hand how it affected morale. It is vital that public service workers – including those providing frontline services – are treated fairly and given every opportunity to progress and excel in their careers. Nowhere is this more important than in our own area given the recruitment challenges facing health services across the county, and particularly at the Horton. However, we must understand the costs involved.

Yesterday’s amendment was made with very little notice, allowing no opportunity for any of us to look the implications in sufficient detail. Of course, it is right to keep the issue under review and independent advice sought. Over recent years, pay review bodies have done exactly this, making recommendations regularly. The NHS Pay Review Body last reported in March and said the level should remain at one percent. The next set of recommendations to the Government will be brought forward later this year. I do think this is a balanced approach, and I will certainly look at the outcome closely.

We must also remember that our public services rely on a strong economy. I appreciate that we have had to make difficult decisions over recent years to reduce the national deficit. Pay restraint has protected thousands of jobs and frontline services throughout. That said, I am hopeful that we can start to look forward, both locally and nationally, to a more stable future for public services.’

VICTORIA PRENTIS USES FIRST COMMONS SPEECH OF NEW PARLIAMENT TO TALK ABOUT THE HORTON

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On Wednesday 28 June, Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, used her first speech of the new parliament to talk about the Horton General Hospital and patient safety.

During the Health, Social Care and Security debate, Victoria delivered a passionate speech, detailing her support for the draft patient safety Bill and highlighted the need for transparency within the NHS, focusing on positive patient outcomes.

Making reference to a recent visit to the Grange Primary School in Banbury, in which the pupils showed impressive knowledge of the challenges facing the Horton, Victoria told the Chamber of her ongoing concerns regarding the safety of mothers and babies in Banbury following the downgrade of the maternity unit in 2016 and local population growth. She raised important matters relating to the consultation in Oxfordshire, calling again on the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to halt the Transformation Programme consultation and focus on recruitment.

After the speech, Victoria commented: “Following my re-election, I am committed to ensuring that the Horton General Hospital remains one of the most important issues during my work as the MP for North Oxfordshire.

Local and national health authorities must prioritise patient safety, and I just do not think that is the case, particularly in Banbury. We are building five times more houses in the constituency than the national average, yet the CCG are planning to centralise healthcare in Oxford.

I know the Labour Opposition Leader of Cherwell District Council has called on me to use the current situation in Government to get the Prime Minister to stop any further changes to service provision at the Horton. Of course, health decisions are devolved to local commissioners but the Secretary of State for Health is well aware of our situation, as is the Prime Minister. Last week I attended the CCG’s Board meeting, and met the Chief Executive on Friday and also spoke to the Clinical Director of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust, Paul Brennan, to ensure I was up to date with recruitment, and other challenges facing the Trust.

With the retirement of the CCG Chief Executive David Smith, I will continue to press for the consultation to be halted, and remain committed to ensuring that we retain acute services in Banbury. I have raised all these points again with the Department since returning to Westminster. They can be in no doubt about the challenges we face locally.”

To read the full speech, visit www.victoriaprentis.com/horton-general-hospital/.

Victoria Prentis MP uses first Commons speech of the new Parliament to talk about the Horton

On Wednesday 28 June, Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, used her first speech of the new parliament to talk about the Horton General Hospital and patient safety.

During the Health, Social Care and Security debate, Victoria delivered a passionate speech, detailing her support for the draft patient safety Bill and highlighted the need for transparency within the NHS, focusing on positive patient outcomes.

Making reference to a recent visit to the Grange Primary School in Banbury, in which the pupils showed impressive knowledge of the challenges facing the Horton, Victoria told the Chamber of her ongoing concerns regarding the safety of mothers and babies in Banbury following the downgrade of the maternity unit in 2016 and local population growth. She raised important matters relating to the consultation in Oxfordshire, calling again on the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to halt the Transformation Programme consultation and focus on recruitment.

After the speech, Victoria commented: “Following my re-election, I am committed to ensuring that the Horton General Hospital remains one of the most important issues during my work as the MP for North Oxfordshire.
Local and national health authorities must prioritise patient safety, and I just do not think that is the case, particularly in Banbury. We are building five times more houses in the constituency than the national average, yet the CCG are planning to centralise healthcare in Oxford.

I know the Labour Opposition Leader of Cherwell District Council has called on me to use the current situation in Government to get the Prime Minister to stop any further changes to service provision at the Horton. Of course, health decisions are devolved to local commissioners but the Secretary of State for Health is well aware of our situation, as is the Prime Minister. Last week I attended the CCG’s Board meeting, and met the Chief Executive on Friday and also spoke to the Clinical Director of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust, Paul Brennan, to ensure I was up to date with recruitment, and other challenges facing the Trust.

With the retirement of the CCG Chief Executive David Smith, I will continue to press for the consultation to be halted, and remain committed to ensuring that we retain acute services in Banbury. I have raised all these points again with the Department since returning to Westminster. They can be in no doubt about the challenges we face locally.”

The following account is taken from the official House of Commons Hansard from 28 June 2016:

“It is always difficult to follow such a powerful and passionate speech, but I will do so because I feel just as passionately about what I am going to talk about—the draft patient safety Bill, which I truly believe will do a great deal to assist my constituents and all of us who care about patient safety. I hope that it will embed a new culture of learning lessons in the NHS.

I am deeply concerned about how the NHS is often defensive when something goes wrong. It is not always transparent; the medical profession can be very hierarchical. Believe you me, as a former senior civil servant and Government lawyer, I know about hierarchies—not least from when I worked at the Ministry of Defence. The NHS is much worse than many of the organisations for which I have worked. It is right that we should focus on outcomes, not inputs.

Anybody who has ever met me will know that I talk about the Horton general hospital within about a minute of starting a conversation, but there may be a few new Members who have not yet heard that my hospital, in which I was born, is under threat; I reassure them that in Banbury we talk of little else. I am proud to have been re-elected with an increased vote share to continue the fight for all my constituents. Most of my constituents accepted the Conservative message that to have a strong NHS we must have a strong economy. But however they voted, I will continue to fight to save the Horton on behalf of them all.

Last week, I visited the Grange primary school, where I met seven and eight-year-olds. They had grasped the two main issues: we are worried about the safety of ​poorly babies and about mummies who have to spend up to two hours in the latter stages of labour in their cars going to the John Radcliffe hospital. Those children reminded me of my seven-year-old self: I, too, made a speech in defence of the Horton general hospital in my primary school a few minutes’ drive from where I was last week. It is noticeable that the pupils grasped some of my concerns about patient safety better than some of the members of the clinical commissioning group, whose meeting I also attended last week. The children understood how quickly babies can become high-risk during labour. I have many reasons for losing sleep over the safety of the mothers giving birth in my constituency, and we have significant challenges in the year ahead.

In the minute remaining to me, I shall quickly discuss governance issues. Yesterday, we heard that the chief executive of the CCG would be retiring, as will the clinical lead. I am concerned that the architects of the transformation process will be disappearing halfway through it. I really beg them to stop the consultation process at this point and start again—regroup. Let us listen to patients. We have a problem with recruitment. As I have said before in this place, for want of a nail the shoe was lost. I am concerned that the lack of two obstetricians means that thousands of women in my constituency will be unable to give birth close to home.

In Banbury, Bicester and the villages that I represent, we concentrate on doing the right thing. Our companies adapt to the challenges of Brexit. We are building five times more houses than the national average. We need healthcare that is kind, safe and close to home. The draft patient safety Bill will strengthen our resources to fight for the Horton general hospital, and I really welcome its inclusion in the Gracious Speech.”

VICTORIA PRENTIS COMMENTS ON CCG CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S RETIREMENT

News of David Smith’s retirement from the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group later this year has come as a surprise, particularly as he will leave when we are only half way through the Transformation Programme process. We have never had an easy relationship in my time as an Oxfordshire MP, particularly when it comes to the Horton General Hospital. I am also disappointed that Dr Joe McManners has decided not to seek re-election, although I understand his position given the difficulties general practice is currently facing.

My constituents and I are still waiting for decisions to be made regarding the Phase One consultation. It had been anticipated that Phase Two would start at the end of this year. I am not sure how a change in management will affect this. I remain concerned about the future of health services in Oxfordshire, particularly in the north of the county. David Smith and Dr McManners had a key role in compiling the consultation document yet they won’t be around to see any of the changes through. The consultation process must be stopped. While such uncertainty could delay matters further, I am hopeful that a change in leadership may allow the opportunity for a new vision for health services, ensuring that they remain safe, kind and close to home. The Horton General Hospital remains my number one priority.”

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