Towards the end of last year, I stepped down as the Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer to the position of Vice-Chair, due to an increasing volume of work. Breast cancer is of course still a hugely important issue for me, and one that comes under my brief as Shadow Minister for Public Health. I thought it may be helpful to provide constituents with an update on some of the breast cancer related events that have been in the news recently.
Breast Cancer Inequality Report
During my time as Co-Chair of the APPG on Breast Cancer, I was proud to be part of the initial work on a report on geographical inequalities in breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and care across England. The report was published earlier this year, and contained some extremely concerning findings.
Although overall outcomes for breast cancer patients have been improving in recent years, there exists huge variety in the level of the treatment, care and support available to women in different parts of the country.
For example, based on where a woman lives she may be more than twice as likely to die from breast cancer under the age of 75 than a woman treated in a different area, and a third less likely to have attended breast cancer screening in the last three years compared to a woman living in another part of the country.
It is entirely unacceptable that access to vital breast cancer care can be so dependent on a postcode lottery of services available. The report made some important recommendations, including that ‘Health Education England and all Cancer Alliances should urgently ensure there are enough healthcare professionals to deliver high-quality and timely diagnosis, treatment and care to local women.’
Following on from the report’s publication, I wrote to the Northern Cancer Alliance to highlight the findings and request a meeting to discuss how they are tackling the challenges within our region. This meeting took place recently, and was extremely informative. I was pleased to hear that once their workforce plans have been finalised, they will be published in order to ensure transparency.
I look forward to seeing these plans once they have been made available.
Breast Cancer Screening Error
Last month, Jeremy Hunt came to the House of Commons to give a statement on a breast cancer screening error that led to thousands of women missing vital examinations.
Although the number of people affected has now been revised down from the figure originally given, the extent of this mistake is truly astounding. Indeed it has had a devastating impact on the lives of many women, and may have led to the premature deaths of up to 74 people.
I now believe that the Department for Health should expand the capacity of the screening programme, and commit to employing more staff in order to ensure that all women are seen in a timely manner.
Figures provided by the Secretary of State show that within Washington and Sunderland West, 110 of women were affected.
I know that many people in our constituency may be worried by this situation. If you think that you may have been affected then there are a number of ways that you can seek more information below:
- Call the breast screening helpline number 0800 169 2692.
- Go the NHS Choices website for more information: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-cancer-screening/missed-invitations/
- Contact my office if I can be of any further assistance on: firstname.lastname@example.org or (0191) 417 2000
Towards the end of last year, I stepped down as the Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer to the position of Vice-Chair, due to an increasing volume...
Labour Party policy event in our constituency - "Education for the Many"
with Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Education Secretary.
Labour Party policy event in our constituency - "Education for the Many" with Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Education Secretary. Read more
Sharon Hodgson MP attended a Carers Week speednetworking event with carers and charities in Westminster, pledging her support to unpaid carers in Washington and Sunderland West.
The event was in support of Carers Week, to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the 6.5 million people across the UK who currently provide care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or who needs extra help as they grow older.
It matched up MPs and carers to share experiences of caring and the support they need to take care of their own mental and physical health and well-being.
Eight national charities have come together to call for urgent support for unpaid carers to be Healthy and Connected as new research released at the start of Carers Week reveals the toll that caring can take on many carers’ own health and wellbeing.
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“I was delighted to be able to show my support for the carers in my constituency at the Carers Week event and I pledge to support the 10,157 carers in Washington and Sunderland West through my work in Parliament.
Unpaid carers make a huge contribution to our society, providing vital and often hidden support to friends and family members, and it is right that we value them and ensure they have the right support at the right time. I look forward to working with the Carers Week charities, and, with unpaid carers, locally, to make a difference to their lives.”
Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK, on behalf of Carers Week, said:
“Without the unpaid care provided every year by family and friends, our health and care services would collapse. Yet, caring for a loved one too often means carers neglect their own mental and physical health.
Finding the time and space to be healthy, get enough sleep and maintain relationships with others are all huge challenges identified by carers. By working together during Carers Week we have a huge opportunity to make our communities more Carer Friendly and make a difference to those who contribute so much.”
Carers Week 2018 is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, MS Society and Which? Elderly Care and kindly supported by Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition.
For further information visit www.carersweek.org
Sharon pledges support to help carers be Healthy and Connected in Washington and Sunderland West for Carers Week 2018
Sharon Hodgson MP attended a Carers Week speednetworking event with carers and charities in Westminster, pledging her support to unpaid carers in Washington and Sunderland West. The event was in...
Over the past couple of days in Parliament, we have been voting on amendments to the EU (European Union) Withdrawal Bill.
As many people may be aware, I campaigned and voted to remain in the European Union. Despite this, I recognise that a majority of people voted to leave, and ultimately I respect the outcome of the referendum.
Respecting the result of the referendum however, does not mean giving Theresa May and the Conservative Government a blank cheque to force through a hard Brexit. It has been almost two years since the referendum took place, and the Government is still arguing about which negotiating position to take when it comes to important issues such as Customs, and Northern Ireland.
This chaotic instability is already damaging the economy, and putting people’s jobs at risk. The manufacturing industry has repeatedly warned that a failure to secure the right customs arrangement with the European Union could cause significant damage to the sector, and the economy more widely. Indeed the outgoing president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned this week that without a Customs Union, ‘there are sectors of manufacturing society in the UK which risk becoming extinct.’
It appears as though the Government is continuing to ignore these warnings, with its dogged insistence that we must leave the Customs Union, regardless of the cost.
Manufacturing makes up an integral part of the fabric of our region, and I will always vote in the best interests of my constituents. That is why I voted for amendments to force the Government to negotiate a continued customs union with the EU, although unfortunately they did not pass.
One of the most significant drivers for people voting to leave the European Union was the desire for the country to take back control. Sadly, this has not been the case, and the fact that Parliament was given just two days to debate 15 amendments to the Bill is yet another example of how democracy is being side-lined in this extremely important process.
I firmly believe that as elected representatives, Members of Parliament must have a truly meaningful vote on the deal negotiated with the EU. That is why I voted to retain an amendment made in the House of Lords that strengthens the terms of this meaningful vote.
This would have made clear that, should the Government's proposed withdrawal deal be defeated, it is for Parliament to say what happens next, not the Prime Minister. Theresa May faced the prospect of a humiliating defeat on this amendment, and has now promised all things to all people with a proposal to discuss the details at a later stage.
I do not accept that leaving the European Union means accepting whatever deal the Government comes back with, regardless of the real human cost that a bad deal, or ‘no-deal’ scenario could have. I therefore await details of the concession made by the Prime Minister, and will hold the Government to account to ensure it lives up to the promises made in Parliament.
I would like to thank every constituent who has written to me on this extremely important matter, I will be replying individually in due course. I welcome contributions to this debate from everyone in Washington & Sunderland West, the process of leaving the European Union is a matter of national interest, and one that I take extremely seriously.
Over the past couple of days in Parliament, we have been voting on amendments to the EU (European Union) Withdrawal Bill. As many people may be aware, I campaigned and...
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Sharon has received information today by email from Sunderland City Council, regarding the consultation process for the Sunderland Core Strategy and Development Plan 2015-2033, which runs from 15 June to 27 July 2018.
From the email below: "All comments must be submitted within this period and received by the council no later than 5pm on 27 July 2018. Please note that comments received after 5pm on Friday 27 July 2018 will not be considered. Only comments received within this period, by deadline, have a statutory right to be considered by the Planning Inspector at examination."
Please read the following information supplied by Sunderland City Council.
Top of page Sharon has received information today by email from Sunderland City Council, regarding the consultation process for the Sunderland Core Strategy and Development Plan 2015-2033, which runs from... Read more
As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a Westminster Hall debate on the elimination of Hepatitis C. NHS England have a target of eliminating the virus by 2025. During her speech, Sharon welcomed this target but also highlighted the challenges that need to be tackled before then.
You can read Sharon's speech below:
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Streeter. I thank the hon. Member for Southend West (Sir David Amess) for securing this important debate and for the work that he has done as co-chair of the all-party group on liver health for many years, as well as for his excellent opening speech today. My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr Sharma), a vice-chair of the all-party group, is not in his place today, but I pay tribute to him for the work that he has done to raise awareness of this issue. I thank the hon. Members for Strangford (Jim Shannon) and for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford) for their excellent contributions and I thank the hon. Member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (Dr Poulter) for his interventions.
Finally, I thank Professor Steve Ryder, whom I met earlier this year, for his expert briefing and for the obvious passion that he has for eradicating hepatitis C in this country as soon as possible. I also pay tribute to the Hepatitis C Trust and the Hepatitis C Coalition for the work that they do.
I welcome NHS England’s ambitious commitment earlier this year to eliminate hepatitis C by 2025, five years ahead of the World Health Organisation’s target. Healthcare professionals and experts are confident that hepatitis C can be eliminated, notwithstanding everything we have heard today about the cap on the treatment. Today is the first time I have heard about that, but I am sure the Minister will respond to the issue in his remarks soon. I remain concerned about some of the challenges that need to be faced by 2025 if the target is to be achieved.
Hepatitis C, as we have heard, is a hidden disease with patients experiencing few or no obvious symptoms for many years, but its long-term effects can cause severe liver damage if it goes untreated. Across the UK, around 214,000 people are infected with hepatitis C, but I understand that 40% to 50% remain undiagnosed. That huge percentage of people going undiagnosed is one of the biggest challenges to eliminating this virus—we cannot treat people if we do not know who they are. As Professor Paul Klapper and Pam Vallely of Manchester University ask in an article published this year,
“how do we identify those who are infected so that they can be guided into treatment and care?”
As I, and many others, have mentioned today, hepatitis C is a hidden disease. People may be completely unaware that they are living with the virus, and at risk of unknowingly passing it on to those around them. Although awareness of hepatitis C is gradually improving, low awareness and stigma remains a challenge to ensuring that as many people as possible are tested, diagnosed and treated.
Levels of stigma and poor awareness are particularly high among at-risk groups, such as former or current drug users, or those who do not access conventional healthcare facilities, possibly because of fear of being challenged or stigmatised. How will the Government ensure that those at-risk groups are reached—not only for testing but for continued treatment? Again, this is where the cap will come into things; as more people come forward and are diagnosed, we must be able to treat them.
People need continued support throughout their treatment to ensure that they complete the course of medicine—if they do not, it is just a waste of time and money. Will the Government provide extra support to at-risk groups to ensure that that happens? An effective way of raising awareness and breaking down the stigma of hepatitis C is to introduce peer-to-peer messaging programmes for at-risk groups. Such a provision could be increased in settings such as drug services and prisons, and would mean that there will already be an understanding and relationship between the two parties. Has the Minister made any assessment of the role that a peer-to-peer programme might have in achieving the goal of eliminating hepatitis C by 2025?
Although at-risk groups make up a huge proportion of those living with hepatitis C, people who do not consider themselves to be at risk also pose a challenge to the 2025 target. As we have heard, Anita Roddick from The Body Shop was one of those who would not have been in an at-risk group, and she would have had no way of knowing that she was infected with hepatitis C. The excellent all-party group on liver health stated that
“A high-profile, Government-backed awareness campaign should be considered, and awareness messaging should be targeted through novel channels at those who may not consider themselves to be ‘at risk’.”
Do the Government have any plans to support Public Health England in raising awareness of hepatitis C among the wider general public, and what format might that campaign take?
Crucially, awareness among primary care professionals should be increased through targeted testing initiatives in primary care, with additional resources and support for primary care workers. If we are to eliminate hepatitis C, we must seize the opportunity when people are already having blood taken—tests for HIV for example, or when bloods are taken in A&E—and test them for hepatitis C. Testing should become routine in substance misuse services, sexual health clinics and prisons, and it must also increase in primary care and community settings, such as hostels, daycentres and police custody. The prevalence of hepatitis C among the prison population is four times that of the population as a whole. If the amount of people tested increases, we will be closer to identifying the 40% to 50% of infected people who are living with it unknowingly, and we will be one step closer to eliminating the virus.
A big step in recent years has been the development of a new class of drugs—direct-acting antivirals or DAAs—that has revolutionised the treatment of hepatitis C. The drugs no longer carry the toxicity or side effects of previous treatments, and the short treatment courses effectively cure the infection in a high percentage of cases. Once patients are diagnosed, however, it is crucial that they are treated immediately, because the time between diagnosis and starting treatment poses the greatest risk of patients dropping out of the care pathway.
For example, a prisoner who is diagnosed and treated while in prison but who is then released might not continue with the treatment and could be at risk of infecting others, as well as of not being cured. What mechanisms will the Government put in place to ensure that those who begin their treatment can finish it, regardless of any change in circumstances? Quicker referrals are also needed to simplify the process of linking people into care. Currently, some secondary care services will only accept referrals for treatment from GPs. The all-party group on liver health recommends that referrals for hepatitis C treatment should be accepted from any service where someone might receive a test and be diagnosed. Has the Minister made any assessment of that recommendation?
Finally, I move on to prevention. If we are to eliminate hepatitis C—we all want that to happen—we must ensure that the number of new infections falls. Substance misuse services and sexual health clinics have a crucial role in that, but their funding has consistently been cut by the Government. The King’s Fund estimates that spending on tackling drug misuse in adults has been cut by more than £22 million compared with last year, and funding for sexual health services has been cut by £30 million compared with last year. What role do the Government expect such services to play in the elimination of hepatitis C, given such finite funding and resources? Those services provide not only a testing service, but an educational one that could help reduce reinfection rates—a further challenge to the elimination of this virus.
I am sure the Minister will agree that serious challenges lie ahead in meeting our ambition to eradicate hepatitis C by 2025. All those challenges need to be addressed—not only to meet NHS England’s target, but to ensure that this potential public health crisis is averted. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response on how the Government plan to tackle those challenges in the months and years ahead.
As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a Westminster Hall debate on the elimination of Hepatitis C. NHS England have a target of eliminating the virus by 2025....
Information from Environment Agency on Washington Corridor, Teal Farm, Washington.
Information from Environment Agency on Washington Corridor, Teal Farm, Washington. Brief outlining regulation of the waste sector in the Washington Cluster June 2018 Environment Agency Website https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency/about/complaints-procedure
Friday 8th June 2018, Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, joined constituents and campaigners outside the Bunny Hill Primary Care Centre for the launch of a campaign against the proposed closure of Urgent Care Centres in Sunderland.
Sharon Hodgson MP joins campaign against the proposed closure of Urgent Care Centres in Washington and Sunderland
Friday 8th June 2018, Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, joined constituents and campaigners outside the Bunny Hill Primary Care Centre for the launch of a campaign against... Read more
Sharon Hodgson attended a launch event for National Fitness Day in Westminster this week (15 May), and is now urging her constituents of Washington and Sunderland West to put themselves forward to be a regional fitness hero ahead of the event, which takes place on Wednesday 26 September.
Sharon called on people to share a message about what fitness means to them online, using Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and the hashtag #Fitness2Me. From those who champion healthy lifestyles in their towns and communities, to those who have overcome the odds through physical activity, beaten depression or inspired young people to get active, the search aims to celebrate the role of fitness in every walk of life.
National Fitness Day is an annual campaign that celebrates the fun of fitness and physical activity, while highlighting the benefits leading an active lifestyle can have on our overall health on the most active day of the year.
The most inspiring #Fitness2Me heroes will be selected from 12 regions by organisers ukactive, the not-for-profit health body. Each hero will be invited to help get their local community active on National Fitness Day and their story will be promoted to a national audience in the run-up to the day.
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“National fitness day is an opportunity to encourage more people to become active and take part in activities across their community and have the chance to enjoy and share their love of physical activity.
In my position as Shadow Public Health Minister, I recognise the importance that physical activity has on everyone’s health and wellbeing. That is why I will be encouraging my constituents to get involved in National Fitness Day, and encouraging them to stay fit and active throughout the year.
It’s so easy to take part and is a brilliant way to bring the community together to celebrate the joy and health benefits that physical activity can bring.”
Last year, National Fitness Day saw more than 20,000 free activities take place across the UK and 5.1 million people getting physically active on the day.
Legendary ballerina Dame Darcey Bussell has declared her backing for National Fitness Day 2018, with the Strictly Come Dancing judge set to kick-off proceedings on the day with her dance fitness company DDMIX.
And the Department of Health has added its support by recognising the crucial role of physical activity in the nation’s health and wellbeing.
Public Health Minister Steve Brine said:
“Being active is so important – it adds years to our lives, saves billions of pounds for our NHS and helps to manage and prevent over 20 chronic conditions, including heart disease, type-2 diabetes and mental health problems. That’s why I’m delighted to support National Fitness Day – which can play a crucial role in getting the nation moving.”
AXA PPP healthcare has also renewed its commitment to supporting healthy workplaces by extending its headline partnership of National Fitness Day for another three years. The partnership includes a focus on supporting employers to promote a physically active workforce through AXA PPP’s ‘Flying Start’ campaign, which calls on employers to help their staff enjoy an active start to National Fitness Day.
Gordon Henderson, Marketing Director at AXA PPP healthcare, said: “We’re excited to be partnering with National Fitness Day, for 2018 and beyond. Busy work schedules and family commitments can mean it’s hard to make time for physical activity but we believe employers have a key role to play in helping their people to get moving. National Fitness Day is a great way for workplaces to get involved and build being active into their working day.”
CEO of ukactive Steven Ward said: “National Fitness Day is all about celebrating the personal experiences and stories that physical activity brings to our lives. Whatever fitness means to you, we’re calling on you to share that message with the nation so that more people can be inspired to live healthy, active lifestyles.
“National Fitness Day continues to go from strength to strength and we’re delighted that AXA PPP healthcare has committed to a further three years on our journey, helping us to reach into Britain’s workplaces with their Flying Start campaign.”
How to get involved:
- There are lots of ways to share what fitness means to you: post a message to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, add a photo of yourself or upload a video message – just don’t forget to include the hashtag #Fitness2Me
- If you would like to share your fitness story in more detail, email email@example.com
- To discover more or to register your activities and events for National Fitness Day, visit: nationalfitnessday.com
Sharon Hodgson attended a launch event for National Fitness Day in Westminster this week (15 May), and is now urging her constituents of Washington and Sunderland West to put themselves...
Sharon Hodgson MP's report May-Jun 2018 number 105 Click on the image above to download the report. Read more