Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

News Highlights

Sharon met with Sarah in Parliament, to hear first-hand her experience of being a Business Apprentice and to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2018, which runs from 5 to 9 March.

Co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service, National Apprenticeship Week 2018 is the 11th annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships in England and is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses, local communities and the wider economy.            

During the Week employers and apprentices from across England will come together to celebrate the success of apprenticeships whilst encouraging even more people to choose an apprenticeship as the pathway to a great career.

Sharon said:

“It is great to meet apprentices here in Parliament. Apprenticeships are so important to those undertaking them – giving them the skills they need to succeed in life and in a role they want to progress in – and to employers, giving them the opportunity to mould and shape the workforce they need.

“I am delighted to support National Apprenticeship Week this year, and pay tribute to employers who are contributing to local economies through apprenticeships whilst demonstrating that apprenticeships work for individuals, employers, and the community.’’

Sharon celebrates National Apprenticeship Week 2018

Sharon met with Sarah in Parliament, to hear first-hand her experience of being a Business Apprentice and to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2018, which runs from 5 to 9 March....

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.

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Today marks International Women’s Day; a day to celebrate the success of women around the world but also a day to reflect on how far we still have to go.

This year’s theme is #PressForProgress, which aims to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

It is no doubt that days like today still need to exist, even in 2018.

Despite making up 51% of the population, women are still outnumbered in almost all professions.

In the House of Commons, there are twice the number of men than women elected in Parliament, and at the current rate of progress it will take 50 years to achieve gender equality in Parliament. In a 100 years since some women got the right to vote, I am the only Sharon elected since 1918, compared to 403 men named John in the same period.

Similarly, a FTSE 100 CEO is more likely to be named David than be a woman, and will earn on average 77% more than their female counterparts.

If these high profile positions cannot practice and promote gender equality in the workplace, then it is difficult to expect others to follow.

That is why the Government must therefore take decisive action to ensure that companies deliver on gender equality in the workplace, and take steps to encourage gender equality in Parliament.

This is something Labour have been championing for many decades now, and I am proud to be one of the 119 female Labour Party MPs sitting in the House of Commons today, making up 45% of Labour MPs.

To #PressForProgress, I will be building on the past achievements of Labour women who have come before me and pushing for full equality and protection of women: financially, in the workplace, in families and homes and in public spaces.

ECHO COLUMN: International Women's Day is also a reminder of how far we still have to go

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website. Today marks International Women’s Day; a day to celebrate the success of women around the...

Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Public Health Minister, and Cold Feet actress Fay Ripley have joined forces this March to help Marie Curie provide care and support to more people living with a terminal illness.

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Sharon Hodgson MP and long-term Marie Curie supporter Fay were pictured together with Marie Curie Nurses, Victoria Shodeko and Victoria Oluwalogbon, at a parliamentary event held last week to celebrate the launch of the Great Daffodil Appeal, Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign.

Marie Curie’s daffodil pins are now available from volunteers and shops on high streets across the country. With demand for Marie Curie services growing, as more people die each year, the charity hopes that this March, more people than ever will give a donation and wear the iconic yellow flower.

The money raised will help the charity be there for more people living with any terminal illness, providing them and their loved ones with vital care and support at the most difficult time of their lives.

Sharon pledged her support to the appeal and is encouraging local people to help the charity raise more money than ever before by simply giving a donation and wearing a Marie Curie daffodil pin.

Sharon said:

‘‘It was a pleasure to join Fay Ripley, Victoria Shodeko and Victoria Oluwalogbon in Parliament to help launch Marie Curie’s annual Great Daffodil Appeal.

Unfortunately, it is extremely likely that we will all know someone who has been or will be affected by a terminal illness, so the support that Marie Curie provides is absolutely vital.

Making a donation, and wearing a daffodil pin are small individual ways in which we can make a larger collective difference to people’s lives. I look forward to seeing many of them when I am out and about, and supporting Marie Curie’s work in the future.’’

Fay Ripley, who is best known for her role in the ITV series Cold Feet and also as a recipe author, said during the event:

"I’m delighted to be here with Sharon to help launch Marie Curie’s annual Great Daffodil Appeal.

Chances are, we all know someone who’s been affected by a terminal illness, so it’s absolutely crucial that families have the care and support they need at such a difficult time.

I hope that as many people as possible wear a daffodil this March and understand that in doing so, they are making a huge difference for people living with a terminal illness and their loved ones.”

Sharon and Fay Ripley help launch Marie Curie's Great Daffodil Appeal

Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Public Health Minister, and Cold Feet actress Fay Ripley have joined forces this March to help Marie Curie provide...

Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, supports launch of new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer report which finds concerning geographical variation in NHS services.

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Sharon has called for an end to the stark inequalities in breast cancer diagnosis and care across England, following the launch of a new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer (APPGBC) – and supported by leading charity Breast Cancer Now.

The landmark report – launched in Parliament on Tuesday 27th February – uncovers the true extent of the ‘postcode lottery’ in breast cancer diagnosis and care across England, with women in worst-affected areas found to be more than twice as likely to die from breast cancer under the age of 75 than those elsewhere in the country.

Following a year-long inquiry (October 2016 - November 2017), which gathered evidence from NHS leaders, clinicians, patients and charities, the report found that while overall outcomes for breast cancer are improving, stark geographical inequalities exist across England in screening, early detection and access to treatment and services.

Sharon said:

“As the former chair of the APPG on Breast Cancer at the time this report was initiated, I was very pleased to attend the launch of their report into geographical inequalities in breast cancer. These widespread differences in the diagnosis, treatment and care of women with breast cancer, based on where they live, are shocking. It was incredibly moving to hear from speakers at the event just how difficult it can be for breast cancer patients to get the support they need.

“It’s so important to attend routine mammograms so that we can detect breast cancer as early as possible to give women the best chance of survival.

“While such variation across the region exists, we’re falling short of the Government’s ambition of world-class outcomes for all cancer patients, and we call on NHS England and Public Health England to do all that it can in working with the Northern Cancer Alliance to ensure they receive the support they need to meet this challenge.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, which supported the inquiry, said:

“These are really concerning findings. While overall, more women are surviving breast cancer than ever before, this crucial report uncovers variation in breast cancer services on a major scale.

“With patients and healthcare professionals alike already feeling the impact of the workforce shortages across the country, this alarming report must now act as a wake-up call. All women with breast cancer deserve the best possible chance of surviving and living well, no matter where they live, their age or the colour of their skin.

“This report shows too many women miss out on the best breast cancer care this country has to offer. We urge NHS England and Public Health England to take immediate action to ensure all women in the North East and across the country receive fair access to the care, treatment and support they need.”

Sharon calls for an end to stark inequalities in breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and care

Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, supports launch of new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer report which finds concerning geographical...

Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Feb-Mar 2018 number 102

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Sharon Hodgson MP's report Feb-Mar 2018 number 102

Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Feb-Mar 2018 number 102 Click on image above to download Read more

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, attended a drop in event at the House of Commons this week to pledge her support to help ban the use and sale of electronic shock collars.

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On Tuesday 20th February, Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity launched its #ShockinglyLegal campaign to help urge the Government to ban the sale of electronic shock collars.

A recent poll revealed around a third (31%) of the public wrongly believe shock collars are already illegal, yet despite public opinion, buying and using one of these painful devices to correct a dog’s behaviour, is shockingly still lawful in England.

84% of people know that shock collars cause a dog pain, but the sad reality is that they are still readily available to buy at the click of a button. These torturous devices can send between 100 to 6000 Volts2 to a dog’s neck, and have the capacity to continuously shock a dog for up to 11 terrifying seconds at a time. Research shows that physical effects can include yelping, squealing, crouching, and physiological signs of distress in direct response to an electric shock3,4. It’s not just shock collars – spray and sonic collars are also widely for sale.

Whilst the use of electronic shock collars is banned in Wales, and Scotland has also made moves towards prohibiting the use of these cruel devices, England is dragging its heels. Only Westminster has the power to ban the sale of electronic shock collars so Dogs Trust is urging members of the public to tweet their MP using the hashtag #ShockinglyLegal to help bring this important issue to light.

Sharon said,

“I’m delighted to pledge my support to Dogs Trust in calling for a ban on the use and sale of electronic shock collars. These aversive training methods are outdated and cruel, and there is no need for them to be used when there are so many positive training methods available. This is a hugely important issue for dog welfare and I hope my support will help make a difference.”

Rachel Casey Director of Canine Behaviour and Research at Dogs Trust explains

“We are appalled that it is still legal to buy and use electronic shock collars in England - 83% of dog owners polled said they wouldn’t use them so why on earth are they legal? It is both unnecessary and cruel to resort to the use of these collars on dogs. This type of device is not only painful for a dog, it can have a serious negative impact on their mental and physical wellbeing. A dog can’t understand when or why it’s being shocked and this can cause it immense distress, with many dogs exhibiting signs of anxiety and worsened behaviour as a result.”

“Positive based methods, such as using rewards like food, are the most effective and kindest way to train your dog, so there is absolutely no need for owners to even consider the use of these devices. We urge everyone who loves dogs to consider the impact that using these kinds of devices can have on our four-legged friends, and join with us in asking your MP for an immediate ban on their sale and their use.”

Sharon supports calls to ban electronic shock collars

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, attended a drop in event at the House of Commons this week to pledge her support to help ban the use and...

A number of constituents have been in touch with me recently to express concern around financial fraud.

This is an issue that has also been in the news as an increasing number of older people are targeted, often for their pension savings. The Times reported last week that nearly £200 million has been stolen by investment fraudsters over the past year. Despite this being an eye-watering figure it may also be somewhat of an under-estimation, as people are sadly often too ashamed to come forward with complaints. I wanted to share this information, and some of the ways in which you can take action to try and protect against fraud.

There appears to have been a significant rise in the targeting of pensioners by fraudsters ever since pension changes came in to effect in 2015 that allowed people to access their savings from any time after becoming 55. Currently, one of the more prevalent methods of fraud is the creation of fake ‘clone’ companies that resemble well known or trusted brands. These clone companies then approach people in retirement and offer them an attractive investment proposition. Many people have been tricked into investing in companies or funds that effectively do not exist.

Towards the end of last year, the Payments Systems Regulator (PRS) published an interim report on progress made in relation to their response to a super-complaint by Which? Magazine. This complaint raised concerns over how little protection there is for people who are tricked into transferring money to a fraudster. One of the suggestions that this report included, was that of a potential reimbursement scheme. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is currently monitoring responses to this interim report and I will ensure to keep an eye on the final outcome, and see what further steps could be taken to help people who have fallen victim to these crimes.

When it comes to precautionary steps, the FCA has a comprehensive guide on how to avoid investment scams here. Advice includes; rejecting unexpected offers, checking whether a firm is FCA authorised, and checking a firm is not a ‘clone firm’. If you have any doubt as to whether the firm you are talking to is genuine, you should check the FCA’s online register.  It is important to only access the FCA’s register via its own website, as links included in an email to you may lead you to a fake site. I personally think that the old adage "if it’s too good to be true." is truer now more than ever.  It is always better to be overly cautious, rather than risk getting caught out.

If you have been a victim of a crime such as this, and you live in the constituency of Washington and Sunderland West, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Staying Safe Online

A number of constituents have been in touch with me recently to express concern around financial fraud.This is an issue that has also been in the news as an increasing...

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a debate following the Second Reading of the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill. During her speech, Sharon highlighted the need for more people to be on the Organ Donation Register and encouraged families to speak about organ donation.

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You can read the full debate here: Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill

You can read Sharon's speech below:

Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab):

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North West (Mr Robinson) for securing this very important debate, for introducing this very important Bill and for his powerful and moving opening speech. I would also like to thank the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Dame Cheryl Gillan), the hon. Members for Mid Worcestershire (Nigel Huddleston), for North Devon (Peter Heaton-Jones), for Dudley South (Mike Wood), for Chippenham (Michelle Donelan) and for Hendon (Dr Offord), and my hon. Friends the Members for Ealing, Southall (Mr Sharma), for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis), for St Helens South and Whiston (Ms Rimmer) and for Lincoln (Karen Lee) for their excellent speeches.

In particular, I pay huge tribute to my constituency neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott). She spoke so bravely and movingly about her daughter Rebecca, who as we heard has been on dialysis for a year awaiting a kidney transplant. I hope from the bottom of my heart—I am sure we all do—that her wait is over very soon and she is successful in receiving that gift of life from a wonderful donor.

This has been an excellent debate and an example of this House at its best, as it often is on Fridays during debates on private Members’ Bills. I would like to thank hon. Members who have previously brought this issue to our attention over the past decade or so, including my hon. Friends the Members for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh), for Newport West (Paul Flynn) and for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis).

I commend the Daily Mirror for its fantastic campaign to raise awareness of organ donation since the case of Max Johnson, who we have all heard so much about this morning. He was then a nine-year-old boy in need of a new heart. I understand he is now 10, which is fantastic. I want to thank the hon. Member for North Devon for telling us all about Keira Ball, Max’s donor, who I understand saved four lives. I thank her very, very brave family for taking that brave decision on that most awful of days. I also thank the more than 13,000 people who have now signed the Change.org petition.

I also commend the scriptwriters of “Coronation Street”—of which, it has to be said, I am a huge fan as a northerner—for covering this issue so well. I note that the character Carla Connor this week received a kidney from her half-brother and that all is going well. At their best, soaps can play a huge part in helping to inform the public on such issues. I hope the storyline will touch on the importance of being on the organ donation register. Finally, I pay tribute to the thousands of people who have already participated in the Government’s public consultation on organ donation. I encourage others to do so, if they have not done so already, to let their voices be heard.

The topic of organ donation is understandably an emotional one, but I am pleased that so many people are now engaging in this debate and that we have the opportunity to discuss it in the House today. This debate and the publicity around it may encourage families up and down the country to have that important discussion about organ donation before the inevitable happens. There is no doubt that these discussions need to be had and that we need more organ donors in England. Almost 25 million people are on the organ donation register, but according to the NHS blood and transplant service, 7,000 people are waiting on the list for new organs. For them, it really is a life or death situation, so it is important that as many people as possible sign up to the organ donation register.

Over the past five years, almost 5 million people have joined the register, and in 2016-17 we saw the highest ever deceased donor rates in England. More than 50,000 people are living with a functioning transplant—Max is one of them—thanks to organ donation and transplantation in the UK. These are welcome developments, but we still have a long way to go. We currently lag behind other western countries. Tragically, around 1,000 people die every year—that is three a day—while waiting for a transplant. To save those lives, we need more people on the organ donation register making those decisions with their family’s knowledge, so that when the time comes, more lives can be saved.

Mr Paul Sweeney (Glasgow North East) (Lab):

My hon. Friend makes an excellent case by citing statistics in England, but this is a cross-border issue as well. A great strength of our national health service is that no matter what part of the UK someone comes from, they can benefit from an organ transplant. If someone in Dumfries needs a kidney donation and the donor is from Carlisle, there will be no barrier or border on the route to getting access to that transplant. That is why MPs from all parts of the UK should support organ donation changes in all parts of the UK. That includes the Scottish National party; it is just a shame that SNP Members are not here today. Does my hon. Friend agree?

Mrs Hodgson:

Yes, and I had not noticed that nobody from the Scottish National party is here. I do not know what the situation is in Scotland, but we still want people there to be organ donors. I am sure that Rebecca, the daughter of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland Central, would not refuse a kidney, whether from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or anywhere, so that is a very good point.

Mr Sweeney:

Will my hon. Friend recognise the great strides that the Labour party in Scotland has made in trying to bring in legislation on opt-out organ donation there? It is unfortunate that the Scottish National party blocked the progress of a Bill from Anne McTaggart MSP in the last session of the Parliament, but there is still hope, because a private Member’s Bill is progressing through the Scottish Parliament. We hope to have Labour and cross-party support to see such legislation progress in Scotland, as well as in Wales and England.

Mrs Hodgson:

Excellent. I am really grateful to my hon. Friend for updating us all on the situation in Scotland because, as I said, I was not aware of it. I commend that Bill and hope that our SNP friends up in Scotland will act on and progress it as soon as possible.

Matt Rodda (Reading East) (Lab):

I pay tribute to colleagues in Wales, my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North West (Mr Robinson) and colleagues from across the country. We heard very moving stories from colleagues from North Devon and other parts. We as a House have demonstrated the ability to work together today, and that is so important. One of the great strengths of the debate has been the way that we have focused on families and listened to their stories. For me, that has been a deeply moving experience. I commend to colleagues the importance of continuing to listen to families as the campaign goes forward.

Mrs Hodgson:

Families are at the heart of this, as my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North West, who is promoting the Bill, made clear, and I am sure that the Minister will as well. It is important that families’ voices are taken into consideration when these discussions take place.

I know that I am not alone in this House in carrying a donor card and being on the register. Like many other organ donors, I signed myself up because of a direct family experience. My Aunty Ella, who is sadly no longer with us, was one of the first patients to receive a kidney transplant at the fantastic Freeman Hospital in Newcastle way back in 1967. It was pioneering surgery back then, and it is great to hear my fellow Sunderland MP, my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland Central, also commending the work of the fantastic renal team at the Freeman Hospital who are currently treating and supporting her daughter Rebecca so well. My Aunty Ella lived a full life because of her transplant. In those days, it was perhaps not as long as she would have liked, but she was able to see her children Norman and Stephen —my cousins—grow up to get married. All she wanted to do was to see them grow up, but she lived on to see them give her grandchildren. That is what organ donation is all about: it gives people a future. Just one donor can save up to nine people—as we heard, Keira Ball saved four—and it can give those nine people a future with their loved ones, which is why it is so important.

Of course, there are some concerns among some religious communities. We heard about that earlier from the hon. Member for Hendon (Dr Offord), and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester South (Jonathan Ashworth), the shadow Secretary of State for Health, has met representatives of one particular Jewish community to discuss their concerns. There are also concerns among black and minority-ethnic communities, as we heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr Sharma). Although they are more susceptible to illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and even heart disease, only 35% of black and Asian people in the UK—where the population average is 63%—agreed to organ donation last year.

Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside) (Lab):

The same applies to stem cell transplants, which I raised earlier. It simply is not acceptable that those who happen to be white probably have an 80% to 90% chance of finding a possible match, whereas for those who come from a certain ethnic background the figure could be as low as 30%. I do not think we would accept that in any other walk of life.

Mrs Hodgson:

My hon. Friend has made exactly the right point. This does not apply only to, for instance, kidney and heart transplants; it applies to the whole donor register. The Government must listen to the concerns of black and Asian communities, not just during the consultation but beyond, so that we can develop a solution to this problem.

Eleanor Smith (Wolverhampton South West) (Lab):

I hope that the Bill succeeds and that there will be consultation with members of the BME community to ensure the successful delivery of a public education programme to increase awareness.

Mrs Hodgson:

That is precisely the point. It is a question of education and public awareness as well as the acceptance of the sensitivities that exist among all people, not just members of particular religious or ethnic-minority communities.

Mr Virendra Sharma (Southall) (Lab):

I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend while she is making such a strong point. One of my constituents rang me after my speech to suggest first that Members of Parliament could run roadshows, along with members of their local voluntary sectors, to raise awareness and to encourage people to register as donors and secondly that we could encourage the local education system to enable schools and parents’ associations to run awareness sessions. Would that not be the best way of both raising awareness and engaging with communities?

Mrs Hodgson:

Absolutely. I think that schools are an ideal forum for a number of public health awareness messages on a host of issues to be delivered to young people.

Perhaps the solution to all these concerns has been developed in the two countries where the opt-out system is working well, Wales and Spain. In Wales, the system came into force in 2015. The law sets out that those who live and die there will be deemed to have given consent for their organs to be used unless they have explicitly said otherwise. Before that change in the law came into effect, a public awareness campaign alone resulted in an increase in the number of organs transplanted from 120 to 160. That was not huge, but it was a definite start. NHS organ donation statistics show an 11.8% increase between 2014-15 and 2016-17 in the number of people in Wales opting to donate their organs. That was the highest increase among England, Wales and Scotland. Although there has not been a notable change since the law came into effect, it is worth remembering that—as we heard earlier—Spain took almost 10 years to increase organ donation rates significantly.

Spain has had a soft opt-out system for 39 years. It is considered to be the world leader in organ donation and currently has the highest organ donation rates in the world. In Spain, consent is presumed in the absence of any known objection by the deceased, but family consent is still sought, as it would be here, we hope. In the immediate aftermath of this change in law, there was only a small increase in the number of organ donations and transplants, but there was a dramatic increase after 1989, when the Spanish Government made a big push to reorganise organ donation, as a result of which there was a medically trained transplant co-ordinator in every hospital by 1999.

It is unlikely that we here in the UK will have an identical opt-out system to Spain’s, but these are just two examples showing how an opt-out system can work and improve the lives of thousands of people waiting for an organ transplant. This also gives us the opportunity to learn from past experiences, to ensure we get it right in this country, which I am sure we all seek to do. I know the Government will be working to ensure that that is what happens, and the Opposition are passionate about world-class health services, but, as the NHS Blood and Transplant service made clear, we

“will never have a world-class donation and transplantation service if more than 4 out of every 10 families say no to donation.”

Some 90% of people surveyed by the British Heart Foundation say they support organ donation, but just 33% of those surveyed are on the NHS organ donor register. It is clear from what we have heard today that more people need to be on the organ donor register, and these difficult conversations must be encouraged, so that more lives can be saved.

Luke Pollard (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Lab):

During this debate, I went on to my phone and signed up as a full organ donor. Previously, I was a bit squeamish about giving my eyes, but I have been convinced by the arguments. Signing up only took two minutes; it was simple to do, and every Member could be encouraging our constituents to do so, too, by just going on to their phone and registering now, so we can get more donors before this Bill becomes law.

Mrs Hodgson:

That would be great. Even the most technophobe of us should be able to manage doing that if it takes only two minutes, and maybe there could be one of those clever apps to make it even easier for all the young people to do this.

Stephen Pound (Ealing North) (Lab):

I have no knowledge of apps, but I do have my donor card here, held proudly in my hand, which I got by telephoning. When I introduced my Bill on this subject many years ago, I was accused, as were the supporters—including Dr Evan Harris, who brought in the Bill with me—of being Aztecs. Does my hon. Friend agree that the tide is now flowing in our favour and this is a piece of legislation whose need has been proven, but whose time is now?

Mrs Hodgson:

Yes, very good, and I must apologise for not commending my hon. Friend on his Bill when I listed the people who had done work on this over the years. That makes us realise how many people have been pushing for this, and if my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North West is successful today, his great achievement will be following in many other Members’ footsteps.

Whether it is clever people with their apps or people carrying the old-fashioned donor card, we in the Opposition and nearly all of us, or perhaps all of us unanimously, across the House this morning are in favour of a change to the organ donation law, to ensure that everybody whose life could be saved by organ transplant can have the gift of life. I therefore urge the Minister today to take the necessary steps to increase the number of people on the organ donor register, and I am sure this Bill will be a great asset in helping her to achieve that goal.

Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill 23.02.18

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a debate following the Second Reading of the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill. During her speech, Sharon highlighted the need for... Read more

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a Backbench Business Debate on the Cancer Strategy. In her speech, Sharon called on the Government to address the issues of early diagnosis, waiting times, the workforce and prevention, so that the UK is able to achieve world class cancer outcomes by 2020. 

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You can read the full debate here: Cancer Strategy

You can read Sharon's speech below:

Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab):

I thank the hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron) for leading the debate and for her excellent speech, and I thank the hon. Member for Basildon and Billericay (Mr Baron) for securing the debate. He is not in the Chamber, but I also want to thank him for the excellent contribution that he has made to the work of the all-party parliamentary group on cancer for many years. His expertise and passion about this matter are what has made the APPG so successful.

I also thank the other Members who have made excellent speeches about this important issue. I thank the hon. Members for Bosworth (David Tredinnick), the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Craig Tracey), with whom I co-chaired the all-party parliamentary group on breast cancer—he raised the important issue of breast density, which, as he said, is an issue on which we really do need to make progress—the hon. Members for Dumfries and Galloway (Mr Jack) for Chippenham (Michelle Donelan), for Strangford (Jim Shannon), and for Inverclyde (Ronnie Cowan), the Scottish National party spokesman. I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Coventry North East (Colleen Fletcher), for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin), and for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire), and my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Karen Lee). She is no longer in the Chamber, but she made a powerful and emotional speech about her daughter, who would be so proud of her bravery today—as, I am sure, her grandchildren will be. I hope that the whole family were watching the debate today. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Grahame Morris), who, I think, has fought cancer twice.

Grahame Morris (Easington) (Lab):

Three times.

Mrs Hodgson

It is an absolute pleasure to see my hon. Friend in his place. Long may he stay there.

Cancer is, understandably, a very emotional topic. One in two people in the UK will be affected by cancer in their lifetimes, and, as we have heard from almost everyone who has spoken today, we have all been affected in some way ourselves. When my children were very small, I lost my mother-in-law to breast cancer. That is one of the reasons why I joined the all-party parliamentary group on breast cancer, and I am vice-chair of the group to this day. It is this emotion that encourages us and gets us all to come together to tackle cancer.

Over the years there has been a steady improvement in cancer survival rates in England. However, we still lag behind the improvements of our European counterparts, and the number of new cancer cases continues to rise year on year. If these trends continue it is estimated that by 2020 some 2.4 million people in England will have had a cancer diagnosis at some point in their life. That is why the Government must take urgent steps so that cancer diagnosis care and outcomes in England can be improved.

The cancer strategy was a welcome step forward to achieving the best cancer care and outcomes in the world, and Labour is fully committed to delivering, and helping to deliver, that strategy in full. However, as has been mentioned, there are some concerns across the House about the progress of the strategy. I am pleased that some of the targets have already been met, but I am under no illusions—many are no closer to being reached than they were almost three years ago. Will the Minister today commit to publishing a detailed progress update on each of the 97 cancer strategy recommendations by the end of this financial year, so we are all able to celebrate success but also focus our attention on more pressing challenges where needed? There are many challenges that the Government must face before achieving world-class cancer outcomes, but I will touch on only a few today: early diagnosis; waiting times; the workforce; and prevention.

On early diagnosis, we know that if a cancer is diagnosed early, treatment is more likely to be successful, but for cancers such as ovarian cancer and lung cancer it is often too late. The National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service found that over a quarter of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed through an emergency presentation. Of those women, just 45% survive a year or more, compared with over 80% of women diagnosed following a referral by their GP. I should state at this point that I am chair of the all-party group on ovarian cancer. Similarly, research by the British Lung Foundation found that more than a third of lung cancer cases in England are diagnosed after presenting as an emergency. As a result, the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation found that, if caught early, a person has up to a 73% chance of surviving five years or more. However, the current five-year survival rate for lung cancer is just 10% and, sadly, one in 20 lung cancer sufferers was not diagnosed until they had died. Cancer survival rates have doubled over the last 40 years, but those are shocking statistics. I therefore ask the Minister what his Department will be doing to ensure that cancers are detected even earlier, so that patients are no longer pushed from pillar to post trying to find a diagnosis.

Unfortunately, we know that once a patient has been diagnosed, they then have an agonising wait for treatment. Even if it was a wait of just a week it would be agonising, but the 62-day target between urgent GP referral and treatment has not been met now for two years, meaning that patients are having to wait much longer than they should for treatment. Since the target was first breached in January 2014, over 95,000 people have waited for more than two months for treatment to start. Cancer patients should not be expected to wait so long. I therefore ask the Minister, what his Department is doing to address this issue.

It is no secret that the NHS and the NHS workforce are under extreme pressure due to underfunding and understaffing by this Government. I want to place on record the fact that Labour Members do not take the NHS workforce for granted. We are incredibly grateful to them for their hard work, support and kindness to patients and their families. They are doing an incredible job despite the circumstances we currently find ourselves in, and we should never stop thanking them for the work they do to diagnose, treat and care for patients. The cancer workforce really are the backbone of the cancer strategy.

The improvement of early diagnosis and waiting times relies on an efficient cancer workforce, so the Minister must make these concerns a top priority if the targets in the cancer strategy are to be fulfilled. A report by Macmillan Cancer Support found that more than half the GPs and nurses surveyed in the UK say that, given current pressures on the NHS workforce, they are not confident that the workforce are able to provide adequate care to cancer patients. That is deeply worrying. The NHS workforce should be suitably equipped to diagnose, support and care for cancer patients, during and beyond cancer.

Through my work with the all-party parliamentary group on breast cancer, I have heard—as I am sure the Minister did during his time as the group’s co-chair—of the overwhelming support that a cancer nurse specialist can bring to breast cancer patients and their families. As we have heard, however, patients with secondary breast cancer are unlikely to have access to a cancer nurse specialist. Research from Breast Cancer Care shows that 42% of hospital trusts and health boards in England, Scotland and Wales do not provide dedicated, specialist nursing care for people with secondary breast cancer, even though they often have complex emotional and supportive care needs. Patients with secondary breast cancer are subject to a postcode lottery when it comes to having a cancer nurse specialist. What steps is the Minister taking to ensure that every cancer patient has access to a clinical nurse specialist?

There is no doubt that, if the cancer workforce had the time, resources and support they so desperately need, the recommendations in the cancer strategy would be achieved. I know that that is something the cancer workforce plan, published in December last year, aimed to address. Will the Minister update the House on the progress of the plan, and outline how much funding the Government will be granting to ensure that the proposals in the plan soon become a reality? The NHS cancer workforce care for and support their patients every day, and we really need the Government to support the workforce, too.

Finally, I move on to the first issue raised in the cancer strategy: prevention. The World Health Organisation estimates that a third of deaths due to a cancer are the result of the five leading behavioural and dietary risks: high body mass index; low fruit and vegetable intake; lack of physical activity; tobacco; and alcohol. The subject of alcohol was raised by my amazing hon. Friend the Member for Bristol West. Tobacco was identified as the most important risk factor, responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths. Taking all five risk factors into account, it is estimated that between 30% and 50% of cancers could be prevented.

The Government’s tobacco control plan—which the Minister thankfully pushed to be published in his first weeks in the job—and the childhood obesity plan are welcome steps towards reducing the high rate of preventable cancers, but they will not go far enough if the Government continue to slash public health budgets. Will the Minister therefore commit to strengthening public health budgets so that fit and healthy lifestyles can be encouraged across all our communities and help to contribute to cancer prevention? I know that, like me, he is passionate about making sure that England is one of the world leaders when it comes to cancer outcomes, but we are currently lagging behind. However, with the right funding and support from the Government, the cancer strategy has the potential to achieve that. I hope that he will take on board all that we have heard today and go back to his Department with an action plan of how best to move forward so that we can really achieve world-class cancer outcomes in 2020.

Cancer Strategy Backbench Business Debate 22.02.18

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a Backbench Business Debate on the Cancer Strategy. In her speech, Sharon called on the Government to address the issues of...

As Member and former Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Basketball, Sharon spoke in a Westminster Hall Debate on the Future of Basketball. In her speech, Sharon raised the issue of lack of funding for Basketball.

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You can read the full debate here: UK Basketball

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 Bailey. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel) for securing this important debate, and for his excellent and entertaining speech; I do not think that we have heard rap quoted in here before. He recently took over from me as co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on basketball, and he is doing a sterling job; he has already done a lot more in that short time than I hoped to do to raise the profile of basketball in Parliament, and this debate is an excellent opportunity to do so.

I have always loved basketball. I know that I do not look like a basketball player—we have lots of them in the Public Gallery—but I played in high school, and I still love to watch the sport; I know that that is hard to believe. I always hoped that through the work of the all-party group, one day the sport would be as large as others, even football, and that it would be everywhere: on our TVs, on the news channels, in our local communities and in our international sports arenas. However, that cannot be achieved unless basketball receives fair and sustainable funding so the sport can grow from the grassroots up.

Basketball is the second most popular sport behind football for 11 to 15-year-olds. According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, it is more popular than riding a bike, so why does the funding stay so low? All young people could benefit from basketball as a sport. It gets them active, but as shown in the results of the all-party group’s 2014 inquiry, which I chaired, it can also serve as a great tool for representation and aspiration, especially among children from deprived communities.

Basketball is perceived as very cool, and it is. It has street credibility globally, and due to its strong affinity with music and lifestyle, it is a sport that can resonate with young people. It can be played with very little space, equipment and money, making it truly representative. More than 300,000 young people aged 16 and over play basketball at least twice a week. It appeals to men, women, boys and girls—one in six participants are female—and is popular among players from less wealthy backgrounds. Somewhat uniquely, basketball is the only team sport in which more than half of registered members—58% of adult basketball participants—are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. That is followed by cricket, which is still some way behind at about 30%.

We have all plugged our local teams. My local team, the Newcastle Eagles, are absolutely amazing. I do not wish to gloat or be biased, but allow me to remind Members that they are the top team in the British Basketball League, having won the BBL championship seven times and the BBL cup six times. I was there for some of those games, cheering them on. Not only are the Newcastle Eagles a fantastic team, they do so much work for the local community and hold partnerships with Northumbria University. Little Dribblers, Mini Eagles, Hoops 4 Health and the School of Excellence are just some examples of what the Eagles Community Foundation, launched in 2006, helps to do for the local community. The primary school programme Hoops 4 Health works with 7,000 young people every year, encouraging them to play and get healthy. It is a great way to introduce children to the sport. They can also play in the Eagles’ central venue league on weekends. The Eagles are a great example of what all BBL clubs do, week in and week out.

Despite all that great work, since 2009, basketball nationally has received just £102 in funding per adult participant. That is less than half as much as the next highest comparable sport, netball, which receives £205. Why is that? I know that netball has its own attributes; I used to play when I was younger, although I preferred and was better at basketball. It is cooler, as well. Why must funding be shared so unfairly? Sport England’s February 2017 funding round awarded £4.73 million to Basketball England, and just £1 million to British Basketball. Wheelchair basketball funding was not announced until October 2017, when it received £300,000.

Based on Sport England’s active lives survey, just under 1% of the population—0.7%, to be exact—participated in basketball at least twice during the 28 days prior to the survey. Although that might seem like a small percentage, basketball placed 10th out of the top 25 sports by participation— only 8% of participation was in team sports—placing it ahead of other sports such as netball, rugby and hockey. [Interruption.] I will wind up, but before I do, I will make one point about funding. Those sports receive far more funding than basketball. Hockey receives more than £9 million in funding although only 0.3% of the population participate, meaning that hockey receives 50% more funding from Sport England than Basketball England, British Basketball and wheelchair basketball.

I had more that I wanted to say, but others want to participate, and I am being told to wind up, so I will leave it to the Minister to do the sums. I hope that she will consider what is being said today and fix the unfair funding, so that basketball becomes a national sport in this country.

Watch Sharon's speech on Facebook here

Future of UK Basketball Westminster Hall Debate 20.02.18

As Member and former Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Basketball, Sharon spoke in a Westminster Hall Debate on the Future of Basketball. In her speech, Sharon raised the... Read more

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