27 MAR 2017

NHS: Reorganisation

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston MP for Totnes

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, which sustainability and transformation plans contain no mechanism for engaging schools and colleges as active stakeholders.

David Mowat Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health

This information is not held centrally. Local areas are responsible for engaging with the staff, patients and the public, as well as organisations which may include schools and colleges, to further develop their plans.

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24 MAR 2017

Soft Drinks Levy

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair of the Health Select Committee

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of using money raised from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to support (a) nursery schools and (b) private nurseries in accessing the Children's Food Trust accreditation scheme; and if he will make a statement.

This question was grouped with the following question for answer:

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has assessed the potential merits of using money raised through the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to extend the free school meals scheme to (a) nursery schools and (b) private nurseries; and if he will make a statement.

Jane Ellison: Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The Government has already confirmed that, in England, we will invest the £1 billion revenue we originally forecast from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy during this parliament in giving school-aged children a better and healthier future, including through doubling the primary school PE and sport premium and expanding school breakfast clubs. The Secretary of State for Education recently set out further details on this, including £415m for a new healthy pupils capital programme. The Department for Education will set out more detail in due course.

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22 MAR 2017

NHS: Reorganisation

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many of the groups responsible for each of the 44 sustainability and transformation plans are consulting with schools and colleges in the development of those plans.

David Mowat The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

Local areas are responsible for engaging with the staff, patients and the public, as well as organisations which may include schools and colleges. This information is not held centrally.

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Hansard

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21 MAR 2017

Education: Schools: Transport

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will publish a list of school transport plans with no mechanism for engaging schools and colleges as active stakeholders.

Caroline DinenageThe Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The statutory responsibility for transport to education and training for children of compulsory school age and for 16 to 19 year olds rests with local authorities, enabling them to make decisions which best match local needs and circumstances.

Local authorities are required to consult a range of stakeholders including schools and colleges about their post-16 transport policies. When developing transport policies for children of compulsory school age statutory guidance strongly encourages local authorities to consult.

Local authorities publish transport policies for school age children and post-16 young people on their websites. The department does not assess these to determine the extent to which local authorities meet these expectations for consultation. Links to post-16 transport policies can be found at www.gov.uk/subsidised-college-transport-16-19.

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21 MAR 2017

DVLA and Private Parking Companies

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries, and it is a real pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Mr Rees-Mogg and the compelling points he made. I thank my neighbour, my hon. Friend Kevin Foster, for securing the debate. In the short time left, I will touch on unreasonable practices and appeals and make a few further points following on from my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset.

There are highly unreasonable practices going on. We have heard many Members give examples. In my area, Premier Parking Solutions, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay referred, has a particular problem with its machines, which is affecting many individuals, particularly when number plate recognition is used in combination with a requirement to enter the vehicle's number plate manually. In many cases, the machines do not record the first number of that registration plate.

The issue is that, because number plate recognition is being used, individuals do not receive a notification until about 10 days to two weeks later, by which time most reasonable people, having parked legally and paid the correct amount, will have discarded the clutter from their windscreen—I do not take much joy in tidying my car, so that would not affect me. Even if individuals have retained their ticket and can clearly prove that there has been an honest error, they find their appeals are not being upheld.

The other problem we have is the disincentive to appeal, because those who appeal have to pay a higher charge if their appeal fails—and fail it will. I have a series of clear cases from individuals who can demonstrate—I suggest to the Minister it is beyond any reasonable doubt—that they have legally parked, fully paid the correct amount and left within the required time, but who are still being hit. If they carry through the appeal process, they find they get nowhere. If they then refuse to pay, they are hit with a series of harassing letters and ultimately receive letters from debt recovery agents, which has an impact on their credit rating. That practice is wholly unacceptable, and intervention from Members of Parliament does not make any difference, either.

I am afraid that our constituents are being caught, and that has consequences. I will read from part of a letter from one of my constituents, which sums up the problem:

"I am an honest lady in my late 60s and I have never had an experience like this before. I live in rented accommodation on a limited income—I am not financially secure. It will cause me hardship to pay this fine when I fully believed I was doing everything legally and correctly."

The letters go on. Another pensioner wrote to me:

"I am a pensioner and all this angst really upsets me...I will do as everyone else has done and pay the £60 within the allotted time and try to forget it—but I have to say the injustice really riles me."

That is the injustice to which my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset referred. He is right that the role of Government is to stand up to help those who are powerless against such practices.

It is not just pensioners—I hear this from across a spectrum of individuals—but we should ensure that particularly those who may have difficulty in entering details via these machines have their interests protected. I agree with hon. Members who have said that at the root of the problem lies the DVLA and its complicity in the process. Will the Minister use every power he has to ensure that it takes its role and responsibility seriously? It has a responsibility to ensure that such practices are not allowed to continue. I hope that in responding he will inform all Members here, and constituents following the debate closely, what the Government will do to ensure that justice is done for all our constituents.

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21 MAR 2017

Health: Topical Questions

Oral Answers to Questions

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

The NHS mandate was published yesterday, just days before coming into force. Can the Secretary of State set out the reason for the delay, because it allows very little time for scrutiny of this important document by this House? Will he also set out how he is going to prevent money being leached from mental health services and primary care to prop up provider deficits, so that we can meet objective 6 on improving community services?

Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

My hon. Friend makes very important points. The reason for the delay was because about a month ago we had wind that we might be successful in securing extra money for social care in the Budget, and we needed to wait until the Budget was completed before we concluded discussions on the mandate. Our confidence as a result of what is in the Budget has enabled us to make the commitments we have made in the mandate, including making sure that we continue to invest in the transformation of out-of-hospital care.

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16 MAR 2017

Suicide Prevention Report

The Health Select Committee, which I chair, released it's report in to suicide prevention today and you may be interested to read it here.

I also spoke about this on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning and you may like to listen to this here. I spoke approximately 50 minutes in to the programme.

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15 MAR 2017

MHRA

I met with Dr Ian Hudson and Michael Rawlins from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to discuss the implications of Brexit in advance of the next stage of the Health Committee's inquiry into the implications of Brexit and health.

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14 MAR 2017

Georgia Shortman

Congratulations to Georgia Shortman, from the South Hams on being selected to represent Oxford Brookes University in Parliament celebrating excellence in undergraduate research. At Posters in Parliament, Georgia presented her dissertation on women in the wine industry considering the opportunities and obstacles, as well as different cultural attitudes to women in the industry.

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14 MAR 2017

Health and Social Care Budgets

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

It is a pleasure to follow Meg Hillier. I pay tribute to all the Select Committees and their members for the work that they done and to all those outside this House who made the compelling case that led to the announcements in the Budget. I say to the Minister that I unequivocally welcome those announcements, and I thank the Government for listening to the case that was made, not only about social care but about capital.

However, I would nuance some of that, because the point about social care is that we must not consider it "job done". The £2 billion over the next three years is very welcome—it is also welcome that it has been profiled to address the back-loading of the previous settlement. However, I would like the Minister to say how we will ensure that it gets to the frontline and is distributed fairly according to need, and also that that reflects the different abilities of councils to raise their own money through the social care precept, because that is important for public confidence about how the money is spent.

I also welcome the announcements on capital—the £325 million for the sustainability and transformation plans that are ahead of time is very welcome. I look forward to the announcements in the autumn Budget about further money, although the Minister will know that £1.2 billion has been transferred to revenue from capital. That is an ongoing issue that is hampering the ability of areas to put effective plans in place. Will he touch on that and say how quickly he thinks we will get to a position where we do not see these capital-to-revenue transfers as being necessary?

Another welcome announcement was about the capital improvements available to accident and emergency departments, although I would caution that this is being linked to putting general practitioners alongside casualty departments through co-location. This is not only about funding; it is about having a general practice workforce that can fund these co-located departments alongside out-of-hours departments and providing routine surgeries on Sundays. I am afraid that we simply do not have the workforce to sustain that activity. I know that there is a commitment to increase the workforce in primary care, but that is alongside a significant retirement bulge in primary care. Something will have to give. As things stand, I simply do not feel that we have the workforce to do that work.

Finally on the Budget, there was a very welcome announcement of a review and a Green Paper in the autumn, which we all look forward to. However, I call on the Government to stop and take stock, because next year will be the 70th birthday of the NHS, and it will come at a time when it is under unprecedented financial pressure. Over the last Parliament we saw a 1.1% annual uplift, against the background of uplifts of around 3.8% traditionally since the late '70s. This is a sustained financial squeeze, at the same time as an extraordinary demographic change and an increase in demand across the whole service. As welcome as the announcements were last week, I am afraid that they do not go far enough to address the scale of the generational challenge that we face. It is of course very welcome that more people are living longer, but that is happening alongside a shrinking base of our working population who are able to fund that demand.

We simply cannot carry on as we are. If the review focuses simply on social care, we will miss an extraordinary opportunity to address the issue in time for the 70th anniversary of the NHS. I would therefore ask the Minister to go back to colleagues and say, "Can we widen this Green Paper to take in health and social care, and can we try to do that on a consensual, cross-party basis?", as has been said by many across the House. Notwithstanding the issues about that in the past, the scale of the challenge is so great that we owe it to all our constituents to put that aside and to take nothing off the table in considering the scale of the challenge and the solutions ahead.

We have an opportunity to explain that to the public, because whenever I address public meetings and I ask people whether they would be prepared to pay more to fund our health and social care adequately, I find that the response is almost unanimous. People are ready for this. They understand the pressures, and they value health and social care immensely. That would be my big ask of the Minister: think again, widen the review, make it consensual and explain it to the public. Let us get the consent and move forward.

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Public Whip


 

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