Tag Archives: featured

NORTH OXFORDSHIRE MP WELCOMES TIER 2 VISA CHANGES

Hands off Horton Cropped

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

180523 Alzheimers Society Cropped

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

180504 Visit to Godswell Park Cropped

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

180328 EqualiTeas Cropped

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

IMG_6736

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

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP CELEBRATES NATIONAL APPRENTICESHIP WEEK

A2Dominion, Barry Wood, Victoria, apprentices Connor and Ricardo, Paddy P and Lindsey Cropped

This National Apprenticeship Week, Victoria Prentis is celebrating the vital contribution of apprentices in North Oxfordshire. 

Since 2010 there have been 6220 apprentices in Victoria’s constituency and over 1.2 million new apprenticeships nationally since 2015.

Apprenticeships are at the heart of the Government’s strategy to expand opportunity and develop the skilled workforce the country needs. This includes working with industry to deliver an ambitious target of 3 million new apprenticeship starts by 2020.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, Victoria has been sharing stories of local apprentices and their employers on social media. She started the week visiting construction apprentices, Connor and Ricardo, working with A2Dominion, and today met Callum and Callum working with ‘Sensor Technology’.

Commenting, Victoria said:

“Apprenticeships allow people to earn while they learn, and open doors to highly skilled, rewarding careers. The Government’s reforms are not only increasing apprenticeship numbers, but also driving up the quality of apprenticeships, meaning they have real value in the jobs market.

It has been a pleasure meeting apprentices in my constituency and showcasing their hard work alongside the support of their employers.”

 

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP AND HEALTH OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE CHAIR ISSUE STATEMENT FOLLOWING IRP ADVICE

f254d3bb-86a7-4e83-bdfa-f5265dfcb60c Cropped

North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis has praised the work of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and welcomed their recommendation for further work to be undertaken before a final decision is made about the future of maternity services at the Horton. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has accepted the Panel’s advice and suggested that a joint overview and scrutiny committee which spans the Horton’s catchment area – and covers all the local authorities – is set up to monitor progress going forward.

 

Victoria Prentis MP said:

 

“I am extremely grateful to Oxfordshire’s Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for their referral and to the IRP for their thorough assessment. It has been a profoundly difficult situation for all of us who use the Horton, particularly for those who have been affected by the closure of the obstetric unit. The IRP’s conclusion that further work needs to be undertaken comes as a huge relief and is recognition of what many of us have been saying repeatedly since the flawed consultation process began. Not only do they recognise the obvious interdependencies of services at the Horton, but they make it very clear that consideration must be given to the provision of antenatal care, travel and parking arrangements and local growth before any final decision is made.  

 

“The IRP’s report follows a very critical review of health services in Oxfordshire undertaken by the Care Quality Commission, and last week’s decision by the Clinical Commissioning Group to pause Phase Two of the Transformation Programme. Judicial review proceedings continue. It is time for us to draw a line under the past two years. We need to start again with a blank sheet, and work together to focus on a real vision for the future of healthcare in Oxfordshire. I am looking forward to uniting with others across county boundaries who use the Horton to ensure our voices are heard.”

 

Cllr Arash Fatemian, Chairman of Oxfordshire’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee added:

 

“The IRP’s report vindicates the anger and frustration which has been felt across our community for almost two years. It has been a difficult and uncertain time and while the IRP has not put forward an immediate solution, a restart of the consultation process will afford us the opportunity to have our voices genuinely heard.

 

“I call on the CCG to recognise the importance of the messages laid down by IRP. This is a chance for the CCG’s new leadership to embrace the issue and move forward constructively. I will seek to action the creation of an extended Scrutiny Committee to ensure the views of our neighbours in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire are also represented.

 

“We should not be daunted by going back to the drawing board nor should this be considered by the community as a step backward. It is an opportunity for us to revive our united front and fight our corner. We will leave no stone unturned to get the best outcome for residents of Banbury and surrounding areas.”

HOOKY ON TAP IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

Hooky sign in Strangers Bar Cropped

On Wednesday 28 February, Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, welcomed Hook Norton brewery to the House of Commons.

Strangers Bar in Parliament regularly plays host to ‘guest beers’ from constituencies across the UK and Victoria invited her own constituency favourite, Hook Norton Brewery to feature this week. The beer is one of Hook Norton’s finest ales, and will be available for MPs and Peers to try for a limited period.

James Clarke and Mark Graham from the brewery travelled down to Westminster to pull a pint and celebrate the occasion.

Victoria commented: “I was thrilled to welcome Hook Norton brewery to Parliament this week and showcase one of my constituency’s finest products. Hooky is one of my favourite beers so I was really pleased to have the opportunity for my colleagues to enjoy it at Westminster too.”

James Clarke, Managing Director of Hook Norton Brewery added: “It was a great opportunity for us to bring along our beer and talk about the brewing process here at Hook Norton Brewery. It is an increasingly tough market and we work very hard to produce a honest, quality beer so to have the opportunity to showcase it here was fantastic.  We have been handcrafting our beers in Oxfordshire for 169 years and hope to continue for many years to come.”

Victoria with James Clarke in Strangers Bar, House of Commons.

Victoria with James Clarke in Strangers Bar, House of Commons.

MP JOINS COLLEAGUES TO SPEAK IN OXFORDSHIRE NHS STAFF RECRUITMENT & RETENTION DEBATE

180220 Oxon MPs NHS Recruitment & Retention debate Cropped

On Tuesday 20 February, Banbury MP Victoria Prentis spoke in a debate on the recruitment and retention of NHS staff in Oxfordshire. During the course of the debate, which was secured by Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran, Victoria emphasised the need to be creative with recruitment ideas, have greater clarity when considering the domino effect of staffing shortages, and communicate more openly and transparently.

Speaking after the debate, Victoria said: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to this important debate. Recruiting and retaining NHS staff in Oxfordshire has been an ongoing issue for many years now. The current situation at the Horton’s maternity unit is a daily reminder for us all. We need to think outside the box and tackle the problems together, particularly in light of the Care Quality Commission’s recent full system review of the local health system. We are in urgent need of a vision for our health service and must keep up the pressure.”

 

Full text of Victoria’s speech:

Thank you, Mr Hollobone, and it is a pleasure to take part in the debate. I thank the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran) for securing it.

It is great to see all my fellow Oxfordshire colleagues present today. If I may say so, they have all been great allies in my fight to save acute services at the Horton General Hospital. Talking about recruitment in some detail is particularly useful, because that is our greatest local challenge with regard to good healthcare.

It is also good to see the Minister in his place. Since he took up his role, he and I have spoken many times about the issues faced at the Horton. We in Banbury are waiting patiently to hear the outcome of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s initial assessment of the permanent downgrade of our maternity services. Our hopes are pinned on a full review, and we were due to find out 10 days ago whether that would take place. We have heard nothing yet, but I am watching the post with interest.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel is familiar with our situation, having looked at similar proposals to downgrade maternity at the Horton back in 2008. Just as recruitment was the contributing factor almost 10 years ago, the failure to fill middle-grade vacancies at the Horton’s obstetric unit was the straw that broke the camel’s back in 2016. However, failures in recruitment are not, as we have heard, unique to maternity services at the Horton. We have spoken briefly about chemotherapy services at the Churchill, and at a meeting in January with local GPs, many expressed concerns about the sustainability of their practices in the current recruitment climate. Last week, the Care Quality Commission observed the following in its full and, if I may say so, quite critical review of the local system, which the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon has quoted and which I will carry on a little:

“The system in Oxfordshire was particularly challenged by the issues of workforce retention and recruitment across all professions and staff grades, especially acute hospital staff…and in the domiciliary…market. This resulted in staff shortages, heavy workloads and impacted upon seamless care delivery and integration of services.”

I am reassured that the Department takes recruitment seriously and has invested significant time and resources in addressing current workforce challenges across the nation. Attracting more people to the profession and training them takes many years. The cost of living in our area is high and London weighting is a significant pull factor out of our area, particularly given our very reliable transport links to the capital. We may be a wealthy county but we must think creatively to overcome the current challenges. The future of our services depends on that.

When I called for help, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of local schools and businesses in my area, which offered discounted school fees, free shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt, and free beer from Hook Norton—that made the headlines—to any prospective obstetricians who wanted to apply for a job at the Horton General. As a leading house building authority, Cherwell District Council has been exemplary in its support for the Horton, exploring the possibility of golden handshakes and providing key worker housing. A local developer came forward to offer one of its new build properties to any obstetrician looking to relocate to our area. Yet all of these offers remain completely unexplored by the local hospital trust, which has refused repeatedly to engage with me on this issue.

Last September, the Secretary of State announced plans to offer salary supplements to GPs in rural and coastal regions, which was a really welcome development. Market towns such as Banbury, Bicester, Abingdon and the many others represented in this Chamber desperately need similar incentives to attract newly trained professionals, whether through an Oxfordshire weighting or a ring-fenced housing allowance. I have no particular view about which would be the more effective incentive—I am happy to explore both. More money is always welcome, but it does not have to be the only answer. Just yesterday, I heard from a Banbury GP who has not been able to recruit a fully qualified international GP who is a resident outside the EU, because of problems with the tier 2 visa requirements. The person is an Australian who trained in Banbury and is very familiar with the local system, and we would really value having her back.

It is important that we consider specialties such as general practice and obstetrics when looking at the shortage occupation list that needs to be filled, because there are gaps in those areas too. We must think outside the box and talk across Departments to find the solutions that we desperately need. We must also have some clarity. When obstetric services at the Horton were suspended in August 2016, we were told that the rota needed six obstetricians to operate safely. But the goalposts were moved; the trust now tells us that nine are needed before the unit can reopen. Those decisions have real consequences. We must know the potential domino effect that shortages can have on other medical rotas. Since maternity services at the Horton were downgraded, the hospital has, in turn, lost one of its anaesthetic rotas. Difficulties attracting professionals to CT1 and CT2 posts pose a very real risk to the future sustainability of the one remaining rota. Until that can be full resolved, the threat to all acute services at the Horton cannot be fully ruled out.

Finally, we must learn, as I say repeatedly, to communicate openly and transparently. Extracting recruitment information from the trust is painfully slow. Rather than offer updates, it leaves us to ask for meetings. We are still waiting for the meeting that my hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Robert Courts) requested for us to discuss recruitment at the Churchill. Yet when I made remarks on local radio about a perceived culture of secrecy, the trust chairman was very quick to summon me to meet her. I was told by the trust that all Oxfordshire MPs would be sent a detailed briefing on recruitment and retention challenges by 1 February. I have not had such a briefing and I do not know whether other hon. Members have.

Time and again I have offered assistance with tackling recruitment. Schools and businesses made generous offers to attract obstetricians, and I am furious that the trust continues to fail to engage. I am hopeful that the CQC report provides a long overdue reality check and that we start to see a real step change in its approach. I have made clear numerous times that we MPs are ready and waiting to help. I am really hopeful that under the new excellent interim head of the clinical commissioning group, we will start to develop a vision for our future healthcare, which we have so desperately lacked for so long.

This year we mark 70 years of the NHS. I am hopeful that many of the hard-working staff in Oxfordshire will be recognised at the upcoming parliamentary awards. I am particularly grateful to the dedicated Horton midwives who now face an almost three-hour round commute to and from the John Radcliffe, following the downgrade of our unit. Experience has taught us that we need to keep up the pressure.

MP ENCOURAGES CONSTITUENTS TO START A NEW CHAPTER FOLLOWING VISIT TO READING CHARITY

ARCH Cropped

On Friday 9 February 2018, Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire visited Bicester-based charity, Assisted Reading for Children (ARCh) Oxfordshire. The visit provided an opportunity to meet those who run the charity and explore ways Victoria can support them with their work in schools going forward.

ARCh works in over 100 primary schools across Oxfordshire, helping hundreds of children to read every year. They recruit, train and support volunteers in primary schools, offering individual sessions with children. Within this, volunteers help to inspire young people through reading, games, drawing and writing stories, helping to boost their confidence.

During the meeting, Victoria and the ARCh team discussed ways in which she can help them as a charity and help to raise awareness of the work that they do.

Victoria commented: “My family and I are all obsessed with reading and books so it was great to visit ARCh and discuss the wonderful work that they do. It is clear that such support couldn’t be given without the dedication of their volunteers and I look forward to working with them to increase awareness.”

Elaine Adams, ARCh Development Manager added: “ARCh are always on the lookout for more volunteers especially in areas of greatest need such as Blackbird Leys, Cowley, Abingdon, Bicester and Banbury and we are particularly keen to link with any business who wish to connect with local school communities through our company volunteering scheme. For more information on getting involved, visit our website: www.archoxfordshire.org.uk/become-a-volunteer/.”

 

 

1 2 3 15