Sharon responds to constituents asking her to sign Early Day Motion 581 calling for a moratorium on waste incinerators.
Sharon responds to constituents asking her to sign Early Day Motion 581 calling for a moratorium on waste incinerators. Read more
Sharon has presented Julian Atkinson of JC Atkinson with the All-Party Parliamentary Corporate Responsibility Group’s Constituency Responsible Business Champion nomination award.
Each year, MPs are asked to nominate a local business to be their Constituency Responsible Business Champion for the year, which then go on to be shortlisted for the top award of Responsible Business Champion of the year. JC Atkinson did not get shortlisted, however they have been presented with a nomination award as Sharon’s Responsible Business Champion for 2017.
This year Sharon recognised the long-standing work of JC Atkinson in providing an unrivalled service of manufacturing environmentally-friendly coffins and caskets built in Washington and exported across the world.
JC Atkinson has a track record of winning awards for their environmental work, alongside their community work which ranges from regional to national recognition and can now include the award of Responsible Business Champion.
The company also provided the environmentally-friendly coffin for Jo Cox, the former MP for Batley and Spen, who was tragically killed last year.
In recent months, Julian Atkinson and his team at JC Atkinson have been raising awareness and vital funds for coffin makers affected by the catastrophic floods in Bangladesh who they work with closely to provide people with environmentally-friendly coffins.
Currently, JC Atkinson have raised a total of £2,775 for the Bangladeshi coffin makers and people can donate to this cause and find out more by following this link to their Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jcatkinson?ct=t(Just_Giving_Donation9_1_2017)
Following the presentation of the nomination award, Sharon said:
“It was an absolute honour to present Julian and his hardworking team at JC Atkinson with this nomination award which recognises the important work they do to provide people with alternative and environmentally-friendly coffins. This is a success across the world and just goes to show how impressive this company is when it is leading the way in this market.
“Yet, it was not just being a successful business that caught my eye, but also JC Atkinson important socially responsible work both here in the UK and across the world; most recently shown through their fundraising to help Bangladeshi coffin makers affected by the catastrophic floods that hit the country earlier this year.
“I’m delighted to have presented Julian and his team at JC Atkinson with this nomination and hope that they will be considered for the top prize in the future. They are a true local success story and I am proud to have them based here in Washington and Sunderland West.”
Julian Atkinson, Managing Director of JC Atkinson, said:
“It is always great when our effort is recognised by others, been nominated for the award by Sharron Hodgson MP is an honour, we have all worked hard over many years to evolve the company which has a proven lowed environmental impact on our planet. We have a great story to tell and having this recognition helps with this, we have a great story to tell, this helps us win work and create jobs in Washington, team JC Atkinson are very proud to be nominated.”
Sharon has presented Julian Atkinson of JC Atkinson with the All-Party Parliamentary Corporate Responsibility Group’s Constituency Responsible Business Champion nomination award. Each year, MPs are asked to nominate a local...
Following her letter to Sunderland City Council on 1st November, registering her objection to the proposed Rolton Kilbride Gasification plant in Washington, Sharon received a response from Mr Andrew Needham, the Managing Director of Rolton Kilbride,
which can also be read here via this link Rolton Kilbride letter to Sharon Hodgson MP >
Following her letter to Sunderland City Council on 1st November, registering her objection to the proposed Rolton Kilbride Gasification plant in Washington, Sharon received a response from Mr Andrew Needham,... Read more
Sharon recently visited Barmston Village Primary School, alongside Neil McOnie, Chair of Washington Rotary Club, to talk about her role as the Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and to meet Barmston Primary’s newly elected Parliament.
Recently, Barmston elected their Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Chancellor, Welfare Minister, Economy and Finance Minister and a Minister for individual school subjects. The elected pupils will be the collective voice of the pupils and will raise matters with teachers and the Senior Leadership Team, where necessary.
As part of her visit, Sharon spoke to the main assembly about her role as their local Member of Parliament and how she goes about her duties representing all of the people of Washington and Sunderland West and then broke off into a session to discuss in detail with the school’s Parliament about their duties, what they have done so far since they were all elected and what they hope to get out of the experience.
Following the visit, Sharon said:
“It was lovely to visit Barmston Primary School with Neil McOnie to talk to the children about my role as their local MP. They asked many pertinent and probing questions – I am sure some of them will be budding politicians in the future.”
More photos below
Sharon recently visited Barmston Village Primary School, alongside Neil McOnie, Chair of Washington Rotary Club, to talk about her role as the Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West...
Sharon was invited along to speak at the Socialist Health Association's conference on Public Health Priorities where she outlined the policy direction the Labour Party was taking when it came to public health issues.
You can read Sharon's speech below.
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Thank you for inviting me to come speak to you today.
It is always an absolute pleasure to speak at a SHA event – this being my third in the year that I have been Labour’s Shadow Minister for Public Health.
It is wonderful to be with so many like-minded people who are committed to improving people’s health and ensuring that prevention is a key cornerstone of our approach to public policy.
I know you have an incredibly packed agenda with many excellent speakers, so I won’t be keeping you for too long.
But in my contribution to today’s discussions I want to set out Labour’s approach to public health and how all of you can help shape and contribute to the policy development as we move forward in this Parliament, and to the next General Election – whenever that may be.
That said, Labour are ready to take on the task of addressing the challenges we see when it comes to the public’s health.
I can commit to you today that whenever the public give us the opportunity to govern, Labour will be ready to get on with the task at hand of reversing the damage inflicted after seven years of Tory rule.
For Labour, our clear aim is to champion better public health services across the country which tackle the entrenched health inequalities that have been all too often ignored, tackling the permeation of ill-health that cripples our communities and ensuring our NHS has the right level of funding and resources so it is fighting fit for the future.
Under the Tories all of this has been ignored and failed. It cannot go on any longer.
Specifically, when it comes to public health, I have identified what I believe to be a “public health crisis”.
This is not about scaremongering or blustering; it is seeing what the Tories have done to our NHS and wider health services and having the understanding that their actions have consequences which put our nation’s health in jeopardy.
We all know the facts – by 2021, £800 million will have been siphoned away from public health services and this has had an unimaginable impact on services in our local communities which have stalled the improvement of health we so desperately need.
It isn’t just Labour who have recognised these concerns, but the likes of The King’s Fund, who earlier this year, analysed DCLG data on local spending priorities for public health and found that the prognosis was not good.
Their analysis identified that local authorities would be spending on average 5% less on public health initiatives than in 2014 with some of the worst hit services being sexual health promotion and prevention along with wider tobacco control which both see devastating cuts of more than 30%.
The King’s Funds’ conclusion is one that I completely agree with. They said:
“… there is little doubt that we are now entering the realms of real reductions in public health services. This is a direct result of the reduced priority that central government gives to public health.”
The idea of reduced priority isn’t one without basis. If we look at NHS England’s Five Year Forward View update report compared to the document published in 2014, public health has seen a clear downgrade from “a radical upgrade” to one deemed to be no more than an efficiency saving exercise in the 10-point efficiency plan.
Whilst efficiencies can always be found to improve outcomes and results, they categorically should never be done to the detriment of our health.
Since 2013, when public health was moved from central government to local authorities, it was welcome to see a more localised approach to addressing health needs – as we all too often know that health inequalities can be local and must be addressed by those who know their communities the best rather than faceless civil servants at their Whitehall desks.
Yet as the planning, commissioning and procurement of these services was devolved they were met with eye-watering cuts which left them struggling to ensure the new responsibilities they had acquired could be used effectively.
The icing on the cake, for those who believe passionately that improving public health should be done at a local level, was scrapped away when central government laid down these short-sighted cuts.
This has meant that services have had to fight to survive and maintain the standards that the public have come to expect, which in turn has led to the money needed to oil the wheels of innovation at a local level has not materialised.
It is always important that innovation sits at the heart of public health so we can meet the health challenges of the day and ensure that we continue to move towards a society that is healthier and happier.
Whilst the local level has seen serious problems arise because of the Tories’ failures, there have also been concerns about action at a national population level too.
It is safe to say that delay, decisiveness and joining of the dots are lacking when it comes to national policy by Tory ministers.
We have seen an 18-month delayed Tobacco Control Plan finally published which failed to recognise that to provide the vision of smoke-free society set out in the Plan, that the Government must put their money where their mouth is to see it succeed.
The same can be said of the Home Office’s Drugs Strategy which failed to move on from its 2010 predecessor and ignored the significantly reduced funding envelope for prevention and treatment services we now have.
We also saw the PrEP Impact Trial continually delayed after the evidence has been abundantly clear that providing PrEP can revolutionise our approach to halting the spread of HIV in society.
Then there is the failure to address burgeoning issues such as lung diseases with what can only be described as disdain by ministers even considering the idea of a lung diseases strategy which could help co-ordinate action to improve outcomes for those blighted by these diseases, especially those in our most deprived communities.
The most perfect example of these failures by ministers was the Childhood Obesity Plan – published over a year ago now.
Though measures announced in the Plan two summers ago were, of course, to be welcomed and it is pleasing to see steady progress has been made when the Government published their update this summer, the Plan and the progress made have left us wanting.
We all know that obesity is one of the most burgeoning public health crisis facing our country right now and this Government have done the bare minimum so they can be seen as if they are acting on these worries. Labour won’t let this continue and we set out quite clearly how we would do this in our manifesto in June of this year with a radical approach to childhood health issues.
However, it is not only health issues specific to the brief which I shadow that this Government are failing on, but a whole host of policies which are damaging when it comes to our nation’s health.
The clear and most pronounced of these is: the growing prevalence of poverty in our society.
Poverty is not an inevitability of society but is in fact an inevitability of a failed society.
Through-out my parliamentary career, I have ensured that poverty is one of the key issues that I work on – may this have been through education or health matters.
It is what drives me in my work in Parliament as it is a damning indictment of any society to see poverty become so normalised that it is left to be ignored, especially in one of the richest countries in the world.
And it is what will drive me if I am ever honoured with the chance to be a minister in Government.
Poverty is a multi-faceted issue and realistically one fix will not address all of the causes of poverty, but the fact of the matter is, austerity is exacerbating the problems of poverty we see in our society.
Instead of putting their heads in the sand, it is high time that ministers got to task and addressed these issues head on.
Poverty has untold consequences on our society – may this be on education, life opportunities or on our health.
These matters cannot be ignored much longer and it is important that governments put the health of our nation first and to do that health must be considered in every action that is taken by a Government.
What I have set out is a sorry state of affairs which we find ourselves in due to the crippling policies of the Tories, but Labour is up to the task of reversing them.
We have heard it said often since the snap General Election in June, but Labour is a government-in-waiting and Labour’s Shadow Health team of myself, Jon as our Secretary of State and Barbara, Justin and Julie, are ready to work tirelessly to improving our nation’s health.
We have a track record on this. Take our June manifesto, where we set out in a comprehensive fashion a radical programme on public health and wider health and social care services.
I, for one, was incredibly proud of what we offered to the country. I may be a bit biased here but we offered hope and a true vision on what government should be doing around health.
But, as I said at the outset of my speech, we must continue to look forward – especially with another General Election forever looming over us with this shambolic government in office.
That is why I welcome these opportunities to meet with you all and speak to you about our priorities as a Labour Party. And about what you believe a future Labour Government should prioritise when it comes to our health policy.
We have a lot to sort out, so there will be many competing priorities if we are to get into office but I want you to know that I will continue to champion an improved preventative health service and work towards our ambition to be the healthiest society we have ever seen.
I can only do that with your support and guidance, but I know for sure that together we can achieve this ambition that I lay before us today.
Sharon was invited along to speak at the Socialist Health Association's conference on Public Health Priorities where she outlined the policy direction the Labour Party was taking when it came...
Read my latest Sunderland Echo column here or read it on the Echo's website.
The past couple of weeks have seen the Tories embattled as they lurch from one crisis to another.
What this has done is distract from the job of government and this week’s Budget was sadly more of the same.
Under the last seven years of Tory rule, we have seen austerity weaken our country’s future potential, and this week’s Budget confirmed what we expected to be the case: productivity, business investment and growth forecasts revised down for the next five years.
Whilst there were welcome announcements in the Budget, including the Government footing the bill to refurbish the Tyne & Wear Metro rolling stock after concerted campaigning by local MPs and Nexus, this does not mean we should celebrate this Budget; far from it.
The wider economic forecasts show an impact on jobs and people’s incomes, yet the Tories are failing to come forward with radical proposals to address these growing issues.
Instead they are providing more of the same with the odd token policy thrown in to gloss over their failures.
More must be done than what is happening at the moment.
Instead of focusing on clinging to power, the Tories must make sure that they deliver for as many people as possible in our country.
Labour has a clear plan which includes real investment in skills and jobs and a large-scale housebuilding programme, plans to help people’s incomes by providing a real living wage and capping energy prices, and ensuring the super-rich don’t get away with more tax breaks and tackle tax avoidance.
People wanted change when they voted in the snap General Election in the summer. Yet, at the first chance this Government had to offer just that, they let down so many people by sticking with the status quo and overseeing a fragile economy that is failing to put the many first.
Read my latest Sunderland Echo column here or read it on the Echo's website. The past couple of weeks have seen the Tories embattled as they lurch from one crisis...
As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon spoke on behalf of the Opposition in a debate on the human and financial cost of drug addiction. In her speech, Sharon highlighted the damning figures around the cost of drug addiction but also the worrying impact of the Government's cuts to public health budgets which have had an impact on local services.
You can read the full debate here: Human and Financial Cost of Drug Addiction Westminster Hall
You can read Sharon's speech below:
Let me start by thanking the hon. Member for South Thanet (Craig Mackinlay) for securing this important debate, and for his excellent opening speech, which laid out all the human and associated monetary costs that drug addiction costs society and indeed the Exchequer. His figures are even greater than the ones I will be citing in my contribution, which is perhaps because he included all classes of drugs. I will only be citing figures for class A drugs, but that shows the enormity of the costs that we are dealing with today.
While there is a very important debate going on in the main Chamber, it is welcome to see the number of MPs here today to discuss this important issue. We have had many excellent contributions to the debate, including from the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb), the hon. Members for Reigate (Crispin Blunt), for Inverclyde (Ronnie Cowan) and for Henley (John Howell), and the hon. Member for Glasgow East (David Linden), who is the Scottish National party spokesperson; he made a pertinent and moving speech, and I commend him for that. They all made strong and thought-provoking speeches, and we have had some excellent interventions. I thank all Members for taking the time to set out their positions and thoughts on drug addiction and the costs to society.
As we have heard, drug addiction is one of the most deeply concerning issues we face today. Drug addiction, in its many guises, can blight communities and the lives of so many people, which is why it is vital that policy is developed to significantly reduce the harm that addiction can inflict on individuals and communities. According to Home Office figures, the number of people taking drugs has fallen significantly over the past decade. That is to be welcomed. Reducing the number of people taking drugs is a step in the right direction to not only improve the health of the nation but reduce crime and pressures on our public services.
Sadly, if we scratch the surface, we unveil more uncomfortable truths that the Government must face. In 2016, there were a total of 2,593 drug misuse deaths involving illegal drugs—the highest number since comparable records began in 1993. That trend in avoidable deaths is reflected across both genders. However, for men the drug misuse mortality rate has jumped sharply over the last three years and reached a new peak of 67.1 deaths per million people—another high since records began in 1993. The female rate is less pronounced but is also at an all-time high.
Across Europe, it is estimated that a total of 8,441 deaths occurred due to drug overdose in 2015, mainly from heroin or other opioids. Here in the UK, we come out on top with the highest percentage of those deaths, at 31%. That is absolutely damning, especially when the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs stated in a report last year that England alone saw an increase of 58% in opioid deaths between 2012 and 2015. Much of that is put down to ageing users of heroin and opioids, which begs the question: what are the Government doing to address the often complex social care needs of drug addicts?
It is not only the deaths that occur from drug misuse and addiction that are concerning, but also the costs to society in general, as we heard from the hon. Member for South Thanet. In terms of monetary costs, it is estimated that class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine cost us £15.4 billion a year, which is £44,231 per problematic user. Broken down, that figure is roughly £13.86 billion on social and economic costs, £535 million on drug arrests and £488 million on the NHS dealing with mortality and morbidity and providing acute treatment and support for mental health and behavioural disorders associated with drug misuse. As I said, that is just for class A drugs. When we include all classes of drugs, the sums increase substantially, as has been set out in detail.
Mary Glindon (North Tyneside) (Lab)
Does my hon. Friend agree with the drugs, alcohol and justice cross-party parliamentary group that, to reduce alcohol and drugs-related deaths and illnesses, a co-ordinated harm reduction strategy needs to be prioritised?
It is no wonder, when we go off all these figures, that earlier this year the UK was deemed the overdose capital of Europe and is now seen internationally as having serious shortcomings when it comes to addressing addiction and drug misuse. What are the Government going to do to address these problems? I am sure the Minister will cite the recent publication of the drugs strategy in the summer. As he will know, Opposition Members welcomed the strategy, but it left us wanting. There is much to be welcomed in it, but it is clear that what was announced has not moved us on any further from what was happening in 2010 and now works within a seriously reduced financial envelope due to short-sighted cuts to public health budgets.
The Minister knows all too well that public health budgets have been decimated, with an estimated £800 million expected to be siphoned out of local budgets by 2021. That has meant drug rehabilitation services being closed and budgets to tackle drug abuse cut, all against a backdrop of an NHS under significant pressure. Labour’s analysis of figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government shows that this year we will see 106 councils reduce drug treatment and prevention budgets by a total of £28.4 million, 95 councils reduce alcohol treatment and prevention, at a total of £6.5 million, and 70 local authorities reduce drug and alcohol services for children, at a total of £8.3 million. That works out at a total reduction of £43.3 million imposed by the Minister’s Government on a whole host of services created to prevent and treat addiction problems. Those figures are unavoidable and shameful. We should be putting greater emphasis on the radical upgrade in public health and prevention promised in the “Five Year Forward View” in 2014.
The Minister cannot come before us today and honestly say that his Government are improving services and seriously addressing this issue when they are overseeing such significant cuts that are rolling back provision on addiction services. It is not just me or Labour making that case, but also the likes of the chief executive of Collective Voices, Paul Hayes, who said earlier this year:
“The more we disinvest in treatment, as we are doing at the moment, the more we will put increasing numbers of people at risk of early avoidable deaths.”
The Minister has the power to go back to his Department and ensure that these avoidable deaths are avoided and the unnecessary losses of life halted.
The Government’s failure to seriously get to grips with the issue of drug addiction and the sad outcomes associated with it is shaming us across the world. Yasmin Batliwala, chair of the Westminster Drug Project, was recently reported as saying:
“We once had services that led the way.”
She went on:
“We now need to do a lot to catch up with countries in the developing world that are doing a lot more for their service users. The sign of a civilised society is how it cares for its most vulnerable.”
The Minister needs to acknowledge that his Government are overseeing such a negative and backwards approach to prevention, instead of taking radical steps to address and prevent drug addiction.
It is high time this Government seriously came to terms with the actions they have taken over the last few years on public health and rethink their short-sighted approach. Otherwise, we will see the figures that I quoted at the beginning of my speech become ever worse under their watch. The people who struggle and battle with addiction deserve and need our support, not just for them, to improve their lives, but for the rest of society, so that we can finally ensure that no one’s life is blighted by drug addiction.
As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon spoke on behalf of the Opposition in a debate on the human and financial cost of drug addiction. In her speech, Sharon highlighted...
As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon spoke in a debate which conferred public health functions onto the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and it's Metro Mayor, Andy Burnham.
Read the full debate here: Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Public Health Functions) Order 2017
Read Sharon's speech below:
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms McDonagh. I thank the Minister for setting out the draft order in such detail. Let me say at the outset that the Opposition welcome it and do not oppose it, so I do not think we will be here much longer. I think everyone will be happy about that. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] How to win friends and influence people.
Over the years, there has been much movement in Manchester towards a new style of local government, with a combined authority and now a metro Mayor, and it makes sense for public health duties to be undertaken by that new local government structure. I, for one, have no doubt that the former right hon. Member for Leigh, Andy Burnham, will do excellent work alongside his combined authority colleagues to champion the improvement of public health in communities across Greater Manchester.
We have already seen visionary planning and passion with the creation of plans to improve the health and quality of life of people in Manchester, but I cannot miss an opportunity to remind the Minister of his responsibilities on public health—responsibilities that I know he takes seriously. He knows that severe cuts to public health budgets—there is expected to be an £800 million cut over the five years leading up to 2021—are having serious ramifications for public health services across the country, including in Manchester. The placement of duties on a new body as part of the new landscape of local government is to be welcomed, but the funding to provide for those duties must not be ignored and left out of the picture. The Government must get to grips with the wider public health agenda and not let it be sidelined in any way.
As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon spoke in a debate which conferred public health functions onto the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and it's Metro Mayor, Andy Burnham. Read the...
Following her letter to the Council, Sharon receives a response from the Environment Agency regarding proposed gasification plant in Washington.
Following her letter to the Council, Sharon receives a response from the Environment Agency regarding proposed gasification plant in Washington. Read more
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 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.
“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 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...