Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

News Highlights

Sharon has backed calls from leading charity Diabetes UK for sustained funding to continue improving treatments and care for people with diabetes.

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The charity carried out a consultation with 9,000 people of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds from across the UK, who shared their experiences of living with diabetes today, and what their hopes and fears were for the future.

Participants identified a number of ways that would make living with diabetes more manageable, including making support for emotional and psychological health more widely available, and better access to healthcare professionals, new technologies and treatments. Respondents also said that they wanted to see better education and information about managing diabetes, and greater support and understanding for people with diabetes at work and at school.

People said they hoped in the future to see more research into a cure, better treatments for all types of diabetes, and to see more done to prevent Type 2 diabetes.

These findings informed Diabetes UK’s new Future of Diabetes report, which was launched at a reception at Parliament on World Diabetes Day (14th November).

In response, Diabetes UK is urging the Government to radically improve health outcomes for people with diabetes, by committing to sustaining transformation funding at current levels of £44 million until at least 2021. The charity is also calling on the Government to challenge the food and drink industry to make their products healthier, build on the work outlined by the Childhood Obesity Plan, and commit to specific measures on front-of-pack food labelling, and tackling junk food marketing to children.

Sharon said:

“For someone living with diabetes, the condition affects all aspects of their lives: at home with family, mealtimes, work, exercise and socialising. It can make it hard to live with spontaneity and hope. Lack of understanding about diabetes in the health service, in the workplace, at school and in society generally can lead to people feeling isolated, misunderstood and stigmatised.

“We must listen to what people with diabetes are telling us. Their needs and experiences must be central to the care and support they receive. And by working together we can tackle the issues that matter.

“I will do all I can to ensure all my constituents are supported with their diabetes and that those at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes know what they can do to reduce this risk.”

Diabetes affects more than 4.5 million people in the UK and the number of people living with diabetes is rising fast. Every day, around 700 people are diagnosed with diabetes. That’s one person every two minutes.

Diabetes UK is inviting everyone to join in creating a better future for people with diabetes by campaigning for change, raising awareness and bringing people together. To find out more and for a copy of the Future of Diabetes report go to www.diabetes.org.uk/future-diabetes

SHARON BACKS DIABETES UK'S CALLS FOR A CHANGE IN FUTURE OF DIABETES

Sharon has backed calls from leading charity Diabetes UK for sustained funding to continue improving treatments and care for people with diabetes. The charity carried out a consultation with 9,000...

In her capacity as Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon has written a letter to Boots' Managing Director, Elizabeth Fagan, signed by over 130 Labour MPs highlighting their dismay that Boots have not fulfilled their promise to provide cheaper and more affordable emergency contraception to women.

Sharon alongside other Labour MPs pressed Boots for action on affordable contraception and have expressed their disappointment at the pharmacy’s failure to deliver on their pledge to women and their reproductive rights.

In response to lobbying from MPs, healthcare charities, and members of the public, Boots said in July that they were looking to source less expensive emergency contraception medicines for their customers.

In August, the company stated they had started to offer a £15.99 product in 38 stores and would be “able to offer this across all stores in October 2017.”

However, Boots have now confirmed that they are only providing the cheaper version in an additional 31 stores, bringing the total to just 69 of their nearly 2,500 shops. A number of the stores Boots have listed as selling the £15.99 product do not appear to have this in stock. In the letter, MPs state they are “dismayed” by Boots’ failure to “live up to their clear commitment to women.”

Boots have cited “supply chain delays” as the reason for their inability to roll out a more affordable product. Yet MPs have stated that it is “difficult to understand” how Boots – “our leading high street pharmacy, who states they have a commitment to women’s health and wellbeing” – have been unable to do so when the vast majority of their high street competitors have been offering less expensive options for a number of months.

In their letter to Managing Director Elizabeth Fagan, MPs say they are “deeply concerned that Boots are unable or unwilling to deliver” on their pledge, and call on the pharmacy chain to consider reducing the price of their own-brand emergency contraception, currently priced at around £26, if they are indeed experiencing difficulties sourcing another version.

The letter also highlights that pharmacy access to EC is of an even greater importance in December and January, as GP and family planning clinic closures mean that many women struggle to access contraceptive services and their usual family planning method over the festive period. Boots have made no commitment on a timescale for the much-delayed full roll out of the more affordable emergency contraception.

Sharon said:

“It is dismaying that Boots have not fulfilled their promise from earlier this year to provide cheaper, more affordable emergency contraception to women by October.

“Whilst Boots say they have started the process of rolling out this product in the stores, the progress they have made so far can only be described as a drop in the ocean with a long way to go before it is accessible in each of their 2,500 stores across the country.

“As we enter the festive period – where women struggle to access contraceptive services and their usual family planning methods – it is crucial that Boots get their act together and roll out this cheaper emergency contraception as promised earlier in the year.”

You can read the letter here.

SHARON LEADS LABOUR'S CALL FOR BOOTS TO FULFIL PROMISE ON EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION

In her capacity as Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon has written a letter to Boots' Managing Director, Elizabeth Fagan, signed by over 130 Labour MPs highlighting their dismay that...

At an event in Parliament, Sharon gave her backing to the launch of National Autism Project’s Autism Agenda.

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There are an estimated 700,000 autistic people living in the UK with approximately one-third of autistic people having a learning disability and 80% at some point in their life suffering from a mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression.

The Autism Agenda showcases the National Autism Project’s recommendations to highlight barriers that autistic people face and how these can be addressed. These recommendations include timely identification and diagnosis, removing barriers to accessing social care and fighting stigma and discrimination.

Alongside the National Autism Project, the National Autistic Society, Autistica and the Autism Alliance, as well as the Westminster Commission on Autism, supported the Autism Agenda report and its recommendation.  

Following the event, Sharon said:

“It was great to attend National Autism Project’s Autism Agenda launch in Parliament and offer my backing to such an important cause. It is important that the needs of those living with autism is supported, especially the need for more awareness and understanding of this condition and the lack of access to services to ensure a decent quality of life. This is something I feel passionately about and hope to see more work done in the future to support autistic people.” 

SHARON SUPPORTS THE AUTISM AGENDA IN PARLIAMENT

At an event in Parliament, Sharon gave her backing to the launch of National Autism Project’s Autism Agenda. There are an estimated 700,000 autistic people living in the UK with...

Sharon Hodgson MP's report Oct-Nov 2017 number 98

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News from Westminster

Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Oct-Nov 2017 number 98

Sharon Hodgson MP's report Oct-Nov 2017 number 98 News from Westminster Read more

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This week, Sharon has written a letter to Sunderland City Council regarding the proposed Rolton Kilbride Gasification plant in Washington, on behalf of constituents, to register her objection to the planning application which was received on the 23rd October. 

This follows concerns raised by many constituents who have written to Sharon over recent weeks and also from her research on the proposed plant, which included attending one of the public exhibitions put on for local residents by Rolton Kilbride. 

After coming to an informed decision, Sharon believes that this plant would not be beneficial to the local people of Washington and Sunderland West and has set out her reasoning for opposing the plant in a letter to the Council (see below), including: the impact on traffic and congestion in the area; the impact on the environment and the emissions that will be released; the impact on jobs, and; the impact on local communities in the immediate vicinity of the plant and the wider area. 

Sharon is encouraging as many local residents to submit their own comments on the planning application to ensure that the concerns of residents are registered fully and in numbers that show the wide-scale opposition to the plant. Local residents can submit their comments by going to Sunderland City Council's website and logging in to add their comments. This can be done here.

http://www.sunderland.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=OY9TXMBB00Q00

You can read Sharon's letter to the Council by going to this link or viewing it below.

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SHARON WRITES TO LOCAL COUNCIL ON ROLTON KILBRIDE PLANNING APPLICATION

This week, Sharon has written a letter to Sunderland City Council regarding the proposed Rolton Kilbride Gasification plant in Washington, on behalf of constituents, to register her objection to the planning application... Read more

Sharon spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on vaping, and raised the Opposition's support for vaping products as part of the smoking cessation landscape but recognised the need for further long-term evidence to be collected on the impact of these devices along with ensuring that the wider package of smoking cessation on offer to smokers is maintained and not allowed to wither on the vine. 

You can read the full debate here: Sharon Hodgson MP Vaping Westminster Hall Debate 01.11.17

You can read Sharon's contribution pasted below:

Sharon Hodgson MP (Washington and Sunderland West)

It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Howarth. I thank the hon. Member for Dartford (Gareth Johnson) for securing this debate. It is timely and important, especially because we have just seen the end of Stoptober, which vaping played a role in advertising. I thank all hon. Members for their thoughtful contributions, and I welcome the array of views and opinions they conveyed. It is clear that there is strong interest in the House in this topic. Although we are small in number here, the quality of the contributions made up for that.

E-cigarettes have been around since the mid-2000s, but in recent years we have seen them boom. Recent figures estimate that 2.9 million adults now use e-cigarettes, compared with only 700,000 in 2012. That increase is expected to grow as more people turn to e-cigarettes to reduce their tobacco consumption or to quit tobacco completely.

The interest in e-cigarettes can also been seen in the rapid growth in availability of such products and the advertising around them. In 2014, it was estimated that there were 460 brands and more than 7,500 flavour solutions. The BMJ highlighted that the advertising and promotion of the products had grown from £1.7 million in 2010 to £13.1 million in 2012—if we had the figures for 2017, they would obviously be a lot higher.

Labour Members welcome e-cigarettes as part of our drive towards a smoke-free society and because of the role they can play in the smoking-cessation landscape. What remains important, however, is that e-cigarettes are regulated correctly to ensure the health of our country is improved, not diminished—which, at the end of the day, is our main goal when it comes to smoking cessation. I will also use my contribution to this debate as an opportunity to further discuss smoking cessation, which is a crucial aspect of the debate around vaping, and the importance of continually looking at this market as we move towards a smoke-free society.

Smoking cessation is crucial. It improves the health of individuals and our nation significantly, and reduces the prevalence of cancer, lung disease and COPD—chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—diseases which we know are all too persistent. If smokers quit smoking when diagnosed with lung cancer, it is estimated that even at that late stage they will live nearly a year longer than if they continued to smoke. For those living with COPD, smoking cessation is the only treatment that can prevent the progression of the disease in smokers. It is also the most cost-effective one. The cost per QALY, or quality-adjusted life year, for smoking cessation in COPD patients is around £2,000 compared with between £7,000 and up to £187,000 per QALY for drugs to control the symptoms of COPD. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, NICE, has estimated that for every £1 invested in specialist stop smoking services, a return of £2.37 will be generated in savings on smoking-related diseases and in ending loss of productivity.

I hope that such issues will be addressed as the Government implement their recently published tobacco control plan, and it is welcome that e-cigarettes have been included as part of that work. E-cigarettes, however, must never be seen as a silver bullet to achieve our vision of a smoke-free society. E-cigarettes are a crucial player in the cessation landscape, but they are not the only player. It is important that we maintain the position set out by research and evidence from the World Health Organisation and in the tobacco control plan that nicotine replacement therapy is four times more effective when prescribed by a doctor and monitored than when simply bought over the counter, which is how e-cigarettes are acquired.

It is important that smoking cessation is a wide-ranging package that reduces smoking in society. Sadly, however, I have to say that the Government’s actions are undermining that approach. As the King’s Fund and the Royal Society for Public Health have identified, public health cuts will reach £800 million in the five years to 2021 and, in 2017-18, spending on tobacco control services faces cuts of 30%. That is concerning, because ASH has identified that a growing number of local authorities no longer have a specialist stop smoking service accessible to all smokers.

Even across the wider health service, it is clear that there are failures to implement NICE guidance on smoking cessation. An audit by the British Thoracic Society of 146 hospitals found that 27% of hospital patients were not even asked if they smoked, and provision of NRT and other smoking cessation treatments in hospitals was classed as poor. Is the Minister aware of that and is he ensuring that action is taken?

What is the Minister doing to address those genuine concerns? I would also welcome knowing his thoughts on promoting vaping and other smoking cessation treatments for in-patients during their stay in hospital, which is championed by Professor John Britton and chimes well with the position set out in the tobacco control plan:

“Promote links to ‘stop smoking’ services across the health and care system and full implementation of all relevant NICE guidelines by 2022”—

I am sure the Minister knows the quote well, as he published the plan, which I am pleased about.

That all shows the serious concerns within the smoking cessation landscape, and the worries for its future and for our move towards a smoke-free society. It is important to include vaping as part of the landscape, but it cannot detract from the other treatments available, which we cannot allow to wither on the vine because something new and shiny has come along. That is partly because the evidence for the impact of e-cigarettes on our health is still not definitive. Public Health England’s review of vaping products showed that they were 95% less harmful than tobacco products—which is excellent—because of the lack of carbon monoxide being inhaled and the reduction in the many other health implications that come with smoking tobacco, but that does not mean there are not concerns or split opinions over the health, harm and safety of such products.

It is paramount that such views are continually looked at and that we review our positions on the products regularly. That is why it is welcome that Public Health England will publish its update on vaping research and evidence by the end of this year. Will the Minister also outline plans to evaluate heat not burn? Although not vaping, such products are something else on the market seen as a way of limiting and reducing harm from smoking. The impact of those devices needs further research.

Gareth Johnson

I did not mention the available heat-not-burn products simply because I could not find any independent information on whether they were beneficial for health or still dangerous. I would be grateful if the hon. Lady enlarged on any information that she has found out about those products, because I found it difficult to find anything.

Mrs Hodgson

I do not think that I know much more than the hon. Gentleman, which is why I mentioned heat not burn. I have asked some questions about it because some independent research is needed. The manufacturers of heat-not-burn products have done their own research and make quite strong claims that although they are still tobacco products, they are far less harmful, but we need independent research to back that up before anyone can substantiate the claims. Will the Minister update us on when research into vaping and perhaps heat not burn will be happening?

As we come to the end of the year, the Minister will be aware that if we see any delays in publishing reports or plans, I will of course be on his case. I welcome the Science and Technology Committee also looking into this matter, and I will keep a close eye on the developments of that inquiry while looking forward to its findings. It is important that we take a pragmatic approach to e-cigarettes, which is reflected in Public Health England’s 2016 statement, which had the support of 12 health charities:

“We all agree that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking…but we must continue to study the long term effects.”

The Opposition agree, as it is clear from the evidence so far that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco smoking, but the evidence remains inconclusive. That is why monitoring must be maintained to ensure that we fully understand the impact of such products in the short and long term.

The Minister has had a lot to think about during this short debate, and I am sure that in his response he will address each and every one of the points made. I implore him in that response to remember the wider smoking-cessation landscape and how important it is to ensure that vaping is included as part of that wider package, which is sustainable and effective in reducing smoking in society and thereby improving the health of the nation.

Vaping Westminster Hall Debate 01.11.17

Sharon spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on vaping, and raised the Opposition's support for vaping products as part of the smoking cessation landscape but recognised the need for further...

On 31st October, Sharon attended the Living Wage Foundation’s reception and pledged to encourage local businesses to become living wage employers.

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The real living wage, which is calculated annually by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission, is £8.45 across the UK and £9.75 in London.

Unlike the national minimum wage, the real living wage is calculated according to the cost of living.

The real living wage is a voluntary scheme, but there are 3,592 accredited living wage employers nationally, including well known household brands such as Nationwide, British Gas and Nestle.

In Washington and Sunderland West, 12% of workers earn less than the real living wage. This means that they are paid much less than necessary to keep up with the ever increasing cost of living.

Currently, 26.1% of children in Washington and Sunderland West are growing up in poverty. Paying employees, the real living wage could help lift working families out of poverty.

Following the event, Sharon said:

“In-work poverty and poor pay are becoming ever-more endemic in our society. This is why I am a supporter of the real living wage. It is important that employers recognise the benefits of paying the real living wage, not only for their employees but also for their business and wider society. That is why I support the Living Wag Foundation’s campaign to ensure that employees get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and have pledged to encourage as many businesses in the constituency as possible to become living wage employers.”

SHARON ENCOURAGES LOCAL BUSINESSES TO BECOME LIVING WAGE EMPLOYERS

On 31st October, Sharon attended the Living Wage Foundation’s reception and pledged to encourage local businesses to become living wage employers. The real living wage, which is calculated annually by...

Sharon has criticised the Government’s failures to bring down the maximum allowed stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 to £2.

Sharon and other Labour MPs have campaigned for many years to tighten control on FOBTs gaming machines which have been described as the “crack cocaine of gambling” and have caused huge damages to families and communities across the country.

FOBTs machines allow users to gamble up to £100 every 20 seconds, which can lead to huge losses, wider societal issues and family breakdown. British gambles lost a total of £1.7 billion on FOBTs in 2015, and 11.5% of all FOBTs users are serious gambling addicts.

Following a much delayed review, and sustained pressure from the Labour Party and gambling campaigners, the Government have announced a further consultation on the maximum stake allowed on FOBTs, rather than take firm action to curb addictive machines.

Restrictions on the machines would have a huge positive impact on the local area. Figures compiled for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling estimate that there are 51 FOBTs in Washington and Sunderland West alone, with local residents losing £1,602,254 between 2015-16 and a total of £10,855,045 between 2008 and 2016.

Sharon said:

“It is a deeply disappointing move from the Government, who appear unaware to the concerns raised by campaigners and others who have been telling the Government for years that they must do something about these highly addictive machines.

“Families across the country, and here in Washington and Sunderland West, have been devastated by the effects of gambling addiction which is too often accompanied by theft and drug and alcohol abuse.

“Reducing the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2 will make all our communities safer and better off and it’s now up to the Government to reconsider its approach and take firm action now.”

SHARON CALLS OUT GOVERNMENT'S MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE GAMBLING SAFER

Sharon has criticised the Government’s failures to bring down the maximum allowed stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 to £2. Sharon and other Labour MPs have campaigned for...

Sharon has lent her support to a Private Members Bill which will reduce the voting age from 18 to 16.

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On Friday 3rd November, the Bill – presented to Parliament by Jim McMahon MP - will have its Second Reading and will place a requirement on Returning Officers to ensure reasonable steps are taken to register new voters and a requirement on schools to provide education on democracy and citizenship to improve our democracy.

By reducing the voting age to 16, an extra 1.5 million people will be able to vote, therefore giving young people the ability to influence politicians on the issues that affect their lives. It is estimated that 1,390 16 and 17 year olds in Washington and Sunderland West would be affected by this change.

The Bill has cross-party support and is backed by the Votes at 16 Coalition, a campaign group made up of over 60 organisations including the British Youth Council, National Union of Students and the Electoral Reform Society.

Sharon Hodgson MP said:

“Through-out my time in Parliament, I have been a supporter of votes at 16, understanding that young people are concerned about the issues that affect them and want to have their voices heard on policies that will impact their lives and I always enjoy meeting young people to discuss democracy and the importance of voting.

“It is time for the Government to recognise the importance of listening to the voices of young people and allow them to participate, contribute and engage in our democratic processes. The time has come for votes at 16 and I am glad to be supporting Jim McMahon’s Bill.”

SHARON SAYS THE TIME HAS COME FOR VOTES AT 16

Sharon has lent her support to a Private Members Bill which will reduce the voting age from 18 to 16. On Friday 3rd November, the Bill – presented to Parliament...

As Honorary President of the Washington Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL), Sharon helps the RBL and the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) launch their poppy appeal for 2017, at Sainsbury's and ASDA at the Galleries in Washington.

Sharon joined ex-service men and women volunteer poppy sellers, who are giving up their time this month once again, to raise money and awareness, for this year’s appeal.

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Sharon helps RBL and DLI launch poppy appeal 2017

As Honorary President of the Washington Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL), Sharon helps the RBL and the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) launch their poppy appeal for 2017, at... Read more

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