Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

News Highlights

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website. 

Sharon_Echo_col_header_FIN.jpg

The age-old proverb: “out of sight, out of mind” always springs to mind when we have some old electricals tucked away at the back of the cupboard or stowed up in the loft.

They sit there for years on end gathering dust and filling up useful storage space, and we always think, “I will get that fixed soon” or “I’ll get round to throwing that away eventually”. 

According to United Nations experts, the electronic waste (e-waste) which is discarded by consumers globally totals over 42 million tons a year with less than 16% of that astronomical figure being diverted to recycling or reuse.

This is all alarming news when it is reported that the electrical items we throw away each year contributes up to 4,400 tons of ozone depleting chemicals being let off into our environment.

We all talk about “going green” or “doing more for the environment”, but sometimes we easily forget the effect of throwing away an old camera or mobile phone can have on our environment.

However, a new initiative aims to change all of that. It’s called Restart, and it aims to help empower consumers to address the growing issue of waste and learn life skills to recycle, repair and reuse old electricals which may still have some life left in them – if only they were given some TLC.

The project is currently only based in London, but hopes to expand out across the country.

To do that they held a Restart party in Parliament, where MPs were able to take their old electronics and repair them themselves.

I, for one, was delighted to personally repair an old clock of mine that I had been tempted to throw away but now can put up again in the house with no need to buy a new one or add to the yearly levels of e-waste we are producing.

Restart hopes to set up local Restart parties across the country where local people can come together and learn more about how they can recycle and repair their old electrical items so we can all take positive steps towards reducing harmful e-waste in the UK whilst also learning valuable life skills we can use in the future. You can find out more about Restart by visiting their website: https://therestartproject.org/

The initiative is only in its infancy, but it is set to grow in popularity where more and more people will learn about repairing or recycling their old electrical items, and can finally empty out that cupboard full of old electrical items and give them a restart to a new life.

You can see some photos of Sharon below at the RESTART reception in Parliament:

Restart_3.jpgRestart_4.jpg

Restart_1.jpgRestart_2.jpg

 

ECHO COLUMN: don't despair - just RESTART and repair

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website.  The age-old proverb: “out of sight, out of mind” always springs to mind...

In her capacity as Co-Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, Sharon organised a cross-party group of MPs and Peers led by along with Nigel Adams MP, Chair of the Music APPG, and were joined with famous faces, such as Imogen Heap, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child producer Sonia Friedman, and Josh Franceschi of You Me At Six!. The photo call called on the Government to accept the “Ban the Bots” amendment during Report Stage of the Digital Economy Bill on the 28.11.16.

Ban_the_Bots_and_Touts_Out_group_photo_2.jpg

The photo call took place outside of Parliament, where MPs and Peers backed an amendment drafted by Nigel Adams MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music, and tabled on a cross-party basis by the entire Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, and supported by Sharon Hodgson MP, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse, and Tom Watson, Labour’s Culture Secretary and Labour’s Shadow Culture, Media and Sport team, which would ban the use of bots to buy tickets. The Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s move follows years of campaigning by Sharon and the APPG for Ticket Abuse to consider how to tackle different aspects of a multi-faceted issue.

The photo call also linked in with the #ToutsOut campaign by Fan Fair Alliance, who have been galvanising the industry to tackle ticket touting and ensure fans are put first in the market. 

This came off the back of a Parliamentary Petition which saw more than 83,000 people call for further transparency measures in the market to help empower fans and protect them from the unscrupulous actions of touts.

Following the photo call, Sharon, said:

“It was excellent to see our cross-party campaign to take another step forward after many years of campaigning on the many issues in the ticketing industry which are locking fans out of seeing their favourite artist, sports team or theatre show. The chorus of concerns from industry, fans and Parliamentarians a like is becoming hard for the Government to ignore. It’s time the Government acted.”

Sharon organises Ban the Bots & Touts Out cross-party photocall ahead of Report Stage of the Digital Economy Bill

In her capacity as Co-Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, Sharon organised a cross-party group of MPs and Peers led by along with Nigel Adams MP, Chair of the...

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a debate on reducing health inequalities and the need for the Government to take action to address variations in health outcomes across the country. In her speech, she raised two specific interventions that the Government could go on: childhood obesity and publication of the Tobacco Control Plan. 

You can read Sharon's speech here: Sharon Hodgson MP Reducing Health Inequalities Backbench Business Debate 24.11.16

Speech pasted below:

4.37 pm

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

I welcome the opportunity to speak in the Chamber for a second time today, on yet another important topic. This time we are debating health inequalities and I thank the Backbench Business Committee for allowing this debate to take place following the application by the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) and other hon. Members across the House. The hon. Lady made an excellent speech, and we are very grateful to her for that. I also want to thank other hon. Members across ​the House for their excellent contributions today. I especially want to highlight the excellent speeches by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson) and my hon. Friends the Members for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham), for Bradford South (Judith Cummins), for Heywood and Middleton (Liz McInnes) and for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier).

I enjoyed the speeches by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Oliver Colvile)—a fellow member of the all-party parliamentary group on basketball—and by the hon. Member for Erewash (Maggie Throup), who made an excellent speech on obesity and childhood obesity. I also enjoyed the speech by the hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss). As she knows, I agree with most of what she says, especially about breastfeeding. We have had an excellent debate, with excellent contributions all round.

When it comes to addressing health inequalities, there are many conversations about the need for systemic change to reverse the trends. However, in my contribution today I want to look at tangible specifics that the Minister can get to work on in her remit as Minister for Public Health. I will do that by looking at the current state of health inequality and then the two key areas of smoking and childhood obesity and what more can be done to address those signifiers. I will then move on to the cuts to public health grants, which are exacerbating the situation.

The most recent intervention on health inequality came from the Prime Minister, who used her first speech on the steps of Downing Street to highlight that,

“if you’re born poor, you will die on average 9 years earlier than others.”

We have heard clear examples of that from constituencies around the country. That welcome intervention set the tone of her Government’s serious work to address health inequalities.

It is hard not to agree when the facts speak for themselves. Two indicators from the most recent public health outcomes data show that London and the south-east have the highest life expectancy while the north-east and north-west have the lowest. The same pattern appears when looking at excess weight in adults, about which we have also heard today. Rotherham comes out the highest at 76.2% and Camden is the lowest at 46.5%. Those figures prove what we all know to be true: people living in more deprived parts of the country do not live as long as those in more affluent areas. Contributors to ill health such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption—which we heard about from the hon. Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce)—and obesity are more prevalent in deprived areas.

On a moral level, it is important for the Government to address such issues, so that we can improve our nation’s health, but there is also an economic argument to be made. If we have an unhealthy population, we will not be as productive. In England, the cost of treating illnesses and diseases arising from health inequalities has been estimated at £5.5 billion a year. As for productivity, ill health among working-age people means a loss to industry of £31 billion to £33 billion each year. Those two facts must spur the Government into action, but there are many issues to tackle and multiple ways for the Government to address them. Many such issues ​have been raised in the debate but, as I said, I will examine two key areas that the Minister must get right: smoking cessation and childhood obesity.

My first outing as shadow Public Health Minister was to debate the prevalence of tobacco products in our communities and the need for the Government to bring forward the new tobacco control plan.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Nicola Blackwood)

indicated assent.

Mrs Hodgson

The Minister is nodding, so she remembers it well. The Government need to set out key actions to work towards a smoke-free society. Smoking is strongly linked to deprivation and has major impacts on the health of those who do smoke, such as being more prone to lung cancer and COPD and facing higher mortality rates. If we look at that by region, which I have already established is a factor in health inequality, smoking levels are higher in the north-east at 19.9% compared with the lowest in the south-east at 16.6%. When looking at smoking by socioeconomic status, we find that smoking rate in professional and managerial jobs is less than half that in routine and manual socioeconomic groups, at 12% and 28% respectively.

In the debate held just over a month ago, the Minister was pushed on when the new tobacco control plan would be published. Concerns have been raised by various charities, including ASH, Fresh NE and the British Lung Foundation, about how the delay could jeopardise the work already done. Sadly, the Minister evaded my specific question back then, so I will ask her the same thing again: when can we expect the new plan? Will it be this year or next year? The plan will not only go a long way to work towards a smoke-free society, but help to reduce health inequalities in deprived areas. The Minister can surely understand that and the need to come forth with the plans.

The Minister knows that I also take a keen interest in childhood obesity. She has said repeatedly that the publication of the childhood obesity plan was the start of the conversation. Childhood obesity is the issue on everyone’s lips right now as it is the biggest public health crisis facing the country. I will not repeat the stats we all know about the number of children who start school obese and the number who leave obese—they are shocking. Many organisations and individuals, including Cancer Research UK, the Children’s Food Trust and Jamie Oliver, have made clear their dismay at the 13-page document that was snuck out in the summer and have said that it did not go far enough. Incidentally, it came out on the same day as the A-level results, so it looked like it was being hidden.

Obesity-related illnesses cost the NHS an estimated £5.1 billion a year, and obesity is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking. It is also connected to other long-term conditions such as arthritis and type 2 diabetes. When obesity is linked with socioeconomic status, we see real concern that the plan we have before us will not go far enough to reverse health inequality. National child measurement data show that obesity among children has risen, and based on current trends there could be about 670,000 additional cases of obesity by 2035, with 60% of boys aged five ​to 11 in deprived communities being either overweight or obese. There is a real need for the Government to come to terms with the fact that many believe the current plan is a squandered opportunity and a lot more must be done. That is why I hope the Minister will be constructive in her reply to this debate, giving us reassurances that move us on from this being “only the start”. At the end of her speech, the hon. Member for Erewash gave us a list of four or five items that we could start straightaway, which would certainly take us further on.

The Government have stalled or not gone far enough on the plans I have mentioned, but there is also deep concern that the perverse and damaging cuts to public health spending will widen the health inequality gap. The Minister knows the numbers that I have cited to her previously, but I will cite them again, even after my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle has done so. We are greatly concerned about the £200 million cut to local public health spending following last year’s Budget, which was followed by the average real-terms cut of 3.9% each year to 2020-21 in last year’s autumn statement. I want to add some further concerns that go beyond those raised by Labour.

Concerns were identified in a survey by the Association of Directors of Public Health, which found that 75% of its members were worried that cuts to public health funding would threaten work on tackling health inequalities. Those concerns are backed up by further evidence published by the ADPH, which found that local authorities are planning cuts across a wide range of public health services, because of central Government cuts. For example, smoking cessation services saw a 34% reduction in 2015-16, and that will become 61% in 2016-17, with 5% of services being decommissioned. That is seen across the board among local public health services and will be detrimental to reversing health inequalities. For the Government to fail to realise that cutting from this important budget will not help the overall vision on health inequality, set out by the Prime Minister earlier this year, is deeply worrying and shows a distinct lack of joined-up thinking around this issue.

In conclusion, health inequality is a serious issue that we cannot ignore or let the Government get wrong, as the health of our nation is so important, not only in a moral sense, but economically. I know the Minister will fully agree with the Prime Minister’s statement from earlier this year—there is no second-guessing that, as we all do—but we need radical proposals that get to the bottom of this persistent issue, which blights the lives of so many people living in our most deprived communities. We all want to see a healthier population, where nobody’s health is determined by factors outside their control, and we must all work together to get to the point where it is no longer the case that the postcode where somebody is born or lives determines how long they will live or how healthily they will live that life.

Reducing Health Inequalities Backbench Business Debate 24.11.16

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a debate on reducing health inequalities and the need for the Government to take action to address variations in health outcomes...

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a Backbench Business Debate on contaminated blood and blood products, secured by Diane Johnson, MP for Hull North, who has led on this issue for a number of years. In her speech, Sharon spoke about the support given to those affected by this scandal under the new system and those missed out, the involvement of private for-profit companies in the administering of payments, and also the need for an independent Hillsborough-style panel.

You can read Sharon's speech in Hansard here: Sharon Hodgson MP Contaminated Blood and Blood Products Backbench Business Debate 24.11.16

Speech pasted below:

1.27 pm

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

It is a pleasure to speak in such an important debate. I want, first and foremost, to thoroughly thank my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson), who for many years now has championed and pushed on this vital matter. Her work cannot and must not go unnoticed or unrecognised. I am sure people across the country, and indeed across the House, will want to join in thanking her.

The experiences of those men and women affected by this awful scandal should never be out of our minds as we continue to do all that we can to support them. Doing all we can for them is paramount, knowing full well that whatever we do will not be enough to give them back their life or a life without suffering or pain. HIV and hepatitis are terrible conditions. Someone living with HIV or hepatitis will face fears of developing other conditions and have to face the stigma that comes with these conditions. This debate is welcome, as it is the first time the House has had the chance to debate the new scheme since it was announced and to continue to hold the Government to account to do more. It is important that we now have the chance to discuss that in a considered and comprehensive manner.

In my contribution, I want to touch upon three areas: first, the current funding system in England; secondly, the involvement of private companies to administer support to beneficiaries; and, thirdly, the need for an independent Hillsborough-style panel to recognise the failures of the system that these people have had to live with.

It was announced earlier in the year that a new financial arrangements system would be introduced, and a public consultation was conducted to get views ​and opinions on how that would take shape. Although there has been a welcome, if somewhat modest, increase in the annual payment to people with HIV, hepatitis C at stage 2 and those who are co-infected, as well as the first guaranteed ongoing payments for people with stage 1 hepatitis C, it is concerning that these payments fall short of what has been drawn up in Scotland.

Also, the current English system makes no mention of support for people who have been cleared of hepatitis C prior to the chronic stage but who, despite fighting off the disease, may still exhibit symptoms ranging from fatigue to mental health issues and even diabetes. These people have never been entitled to any support, and continue to get none. The scheme does not include support for those infected with other viruses, such as hepatitis B, D or E, and for those people it has meant continuous monitoring of their liver function. It is estimated that that group is extremely small and, according to the Haemophilia Society, would be a minimal cost to the Department of Health.

We find that the new scheme does little or nothing for bereaved partners, parents or children of those who have sadly died from diseases contracted through the contaminated blood scandal. The new system should have gone a long way to supporting those various groups within the affected community. I hope that the Minister can give us some reassurance that those concerns have been noted, and that she will go away and look into what more can be done to help the people I have just mentioned.

There are also concerns regarding the discretionary payments, which, thankfully, were saved, despite it being announced in the consultation earlier this year that they could be scrapped. That should be welcomed, but there is a clear concern that the discretionary support will not go far enough to improve the support on offer for those with HIV or those who are co-infected. The Government need to consider that impact and what more they plan to do. It is worrying that the Government have yet to make clear the minimum and maximum discretionary support that people will be able to receive.

I understand that the Reference Group on Infected Blood is currently considering that policy and that we will hear more from it in the new year, but would it not be worth while for the Minister to give us some indication now, so that those who will depend on this money in the years to come can have some reassurance, especially as we enter the festive period? There are many questions to be answered. That is why I hope that in the time allowed the Minister will give us in the House and those who will be watching the debate the reassurances that they need.

The new scheme will replace the current system so that the five trusts across the country that administer the payments are amalgamated into one, and I know that that has been welcomed. However, there is one very concerning point that was so eloquently put by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North when she opened the debate and which needs to be addressed by the Minister. I refer to the potential involvement of a private sector company, such as Atos or Capita, which both bid in the tender process. The Minister no doubt expects me to make the typical party political point, but I am not going to do that.​

That potential involvement was never included in any talks with the all-party parliamentary group on haemophilia and blood contamination, no consultation was held with the affected community, and there was no mention of it in the Department’s response to the survey, yet we see it happening now. The concern here is that the many thousands of people affected by the mistake—which, it must be remembered, was often made by US private companies—feel aggrieved at the potential involvement of a profit-making private company. That resentment is justified, especially as it was the mistake of a private company that put them in their current situation. There should be no profit making when it comes to compensating for the failures of the private sector. That was highlighted well by my hon. Friend in her speech and was also touched on by the former Health Minister, the right hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt).

The issue was highlighted too by the APPG’s survey of nearly 1,000 people affected by the scandal, who clearly had concerns about the involvement of a profit-making private company. It is important that those affected have their say in the administration of the payments and support. I would therefore be interested to hear the Minister’s thoughts on their involvement, as we have seen in Scotland, where there has been an alternative scheme operator which includes beneficiary involvement. Perhaps the Minister can tell us why private involvement is now being considered, but was never consulted upon.

My final point is about co-ordinating an independent panel, such as in the case of Hillsborough. The Prime Minister promised in September that she would keep an open mind about an independent panel, but she has, sadly, quashed the idea. The rationale given is that we have had two public inquiries into this matter already, by Lord Archer and Lord Penrose. That may be the case, but it is important that we consider the approach to helping people to get the justice they deserve, especially as it is clear that neither of the inquiries met the needs of the affected community. The two inquiries were narrow in their focus and were not about apportioning blame. The affected community is not calling for that. What it is calling for, which is strongly supported by the Opposition, is a truth and reconciliation process and public disclosure of the failures, which those affected rightly deserve.

Mark Durkan

On the need for some vehicle of inquiry into the background, in an intervention, I pointed out that, in the Irish Republic, the right to compensation was established in 1995. There was an Act in 1997, but it was following a tribunal of inquiry that the state admitted liability, so there was further legislation in 2002. The liability of the Irish state rested on the fact that the tribunal found that the state knew that there was a risk and carried it because the UK and others were prepared to carry the same risk.

Mrs Hodgson

I am grateful for that important intervention, which emphasises why we need an inquiry into issues such as the one that the hon. Gentleman has raised.

I am sure the Minister can understand the concerns across the House and out in the community among the people affected and their families. Before she replies, I ask her not to adopt the same language as that used by the Prime Minister, who attributed the lack of support ​for an independent panel to the delay in the introduction of a support system. An independent panel with clearly defined terms of reference would not impede the development and implementation of the new system. I hope the Minister will keep that in mind when she responds, and recognise how important it is for those affected to get the reconciliation for which they have fought so long.

The Government must be committed for reforming the system and listening—must be commended, rather, for reforming the system and listening. I know they are committed to that. However, this is such an important issue that we must get it right, and once more I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North for her steadfast campaigning on this issue over many years. I am sure the community will also recognise that fact. Those people who have had their lives marked so significantly by the failures of the past should rightly be compensated and respected. Those who have died because of that serious mistake, those who are still living with the repercussions of the mistake, and those who have thankfully fought it off but still live with the impact of it all deserve respect and dignity, and I hope that in her reply the Minister will give them just that.

Contaminated Blood and Blood Products Backbench Business Debate 24.11.16

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a Backbench Business Debate on contaminated blood and blood products, secured by Diane Johnson, MP for Hull North, who has led...

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon spoke in a debate on diabetes technologies and what more needs to be done to support those living with diabetes. 

You can read Sharon's speech in Hansard here: Sharon Hodgson MP Diabetes Technologies Westminster Hall Debate 23.11.16

Speech pasted below:

2.58 pm

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

It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship today, Mrs Gillan.

I welcome today’s timely debate on access to diabetes technology, which falls in Diabetes Awareness Month. I congratulate the hon. Member for St Ives (Derek Thomas) on securing this important debate and I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Mr Reed), who is not present today, for all his campaigning, work and efforts on the subject over the years.

I also thank the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Martyn Day), who spoke for the Scottish National party, and I commend my right hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth) on his excellent contribution on young people with type 1 diabetes, and for highlighting the worrying danger of abuse by young people who skip insulin in order to lose weight. I had heard of that before, but I am grateful that he brought it to our attention today, so that the Minister may respond. As my right hon. Friend said, it is often due to the pressures of society and body shaming and it can, sadly, often be fatal. It is yet another pressure on these young people: aside from having the diabetes diagnosis in the first place, it is something else that they have to deal with.

I also want to disclose from the off that sadly I was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic just a year ago, but through getting control of my diet and achieving weight loss, which is still ongoing, my diabetes is thankfully very well under control. This debate is therefore very close to my heart.

More than 4 million people and counting in the UK are now living with diagnosed diabetes. Some 400,000 live with type 1 diabetes, and 29,000 of those are children. I am hopeful that in the future, artificial pancreas technology, which we have heard about today, will be effective, safe and accessible to patients, and that eventually, thanks to important research undertaken by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Diabetes UK and others, we will create a world without diabetes.

However, until that time comes, it is paramount that we do all we can to support adults and children living with the condition. Patients need accessible and high-quality education and support, and access to technology that ​will allow them to manage their condition and to achieve positive outcomes. Not only will that have a positive effect upon the lives of those 4 million people, especially including children, but it could also reduce NHS spend on diabetes-related complications.

There have been significant advances and improvements in care for people living with diabetes over the last 15 years or so, but it would be an enormous mistake for us to believe that the job was done. It is far from done and a significant amount of work needs to be undertaken to improve diabetes outcomes. That is because more than 24,000 people a year currently still die from a complication or condition related to diabetes, and many more will encounter life-altering, non-fatal complications. It is worth noting that diabetes-related complications account for a staggering 80% of the £10 billion annual NHS spend on diabetes.

Worryingly, there is also a regional dimension to the challenges presented in relation to positive diabetes outcomes. According to the national diabetes audit 2012-13, diabetes education courses are not being commissioned for people in more than a third of areas in England. Moreover, gateway treatment for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is undertaken through primary care. However, with a GP shortfall of 40% across the north of England—my region—it is clear that accessibility is limited in certain parts of the country. Meanwhile, some CCGs have particularly large concentrations of people with type 2 diabetes and, it has to be said, there are correlations between those areas and socioeconomic disadvantage. The Government might well approach funding allocations with that in mind.

However, the issue we are discussing, which must be considered alongside the aforementioned points, is supporting patients to access technologies easily that will better help them to manage their condition, from insulin pumps to continuous glucose monitors, to flash glucose meters—a lot of them were spoken about by the hon. Member for St Ives. The technologies to which I refer make monitoring blood glucose more convenient for people than a standard blood glucose meter does, and in turn, those technologies can transform peoples’ lives. Continuous glucose monitors—CGMs—such as the Dexcom device, and flash glucose meters, such as the Abbott FreeStyle Libre device, are considered by many to be a less invasive technique than blood glucose meters for measuring blood glucose. They work 24 hours a day and CGMs can include alarms to indicate when glucose levels are too high. That is particularly important for people who do not know that they are experiencing hypoglycaemia, and children who may be unable yet to communicate it.

It is critical that the House understands the importance of blood glucose readings for people living with diabetes—both types—but it is of essential importance for people living with type 1. With type 2 patients, as I have found, blood glucose is usually monitored and controlled over a long period of time and the scope for immediate blood glucose correction is limited. For people living with type 1—people whose control depends upon the use of insulin delivered through an injection or a pump—accurate, real-time data is essential for blood glucose control.

To put it simply: better blood glucose control will result in better outcomes for people living with type 1 or type 2. It will relieve significant pressure on the NHS ​and result in a significant and positive long-term financial gain. Access to CGMs and flash glucose meters is limited on the NHS, and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines do not recommend that CGMs are offered routinely even to adults with type 1 diabetes, but funding should be considered in a small number of specified circumstances. Meanwhile, children and young people must either have frequent severe hypoglycaemia, impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia associated with adverse consequences, or the inability to recognise or communicate about symptoms of hypoglycaemia in order to be eligible for a CGM at the moment.

The guidelines, which can be difficult for health professionals, adult patients, and parents alike to navigate, are an obstacle to accessing life-changing technologies for people living with diabetes. As such, I hope that the Government will take steps to encourage CCGs to increase the take-up of CGMs—I apologise for all the acronyms—and flash glucose meters, and that eventually work will be undertaken, in conjunction with NICE, to look at increasing and improving access to diabetes technologies at a faster rate than patients currently experience.

The running cost of a CGM is around £3,000 to £4,000 a year, whereas a flash glucose meter costs around £1,300 a year. That represents a significant personal cost to many of those who are unable to access these technologies through their CCG, and who therefore have little choice but to self-fund. Lots of parents do this for their children especially. In considering the financial impact of diabetes, we must recognise that diabetic technologies should not be available only to those who can afford to self-fund. Allowing the continuation of the disparity between people with diabetes who can afford to make use of life-changing technologies and those who cannot undermines the principle of a truly national health service.

It is also important to consider that investment in the new technologies could save the NHS vast amounts in the long term. That is because they can help to avoid severe night-time hypos, and severe hypos cost the NHS £13 million a year. In addition, as I have mentioned, diabetes-related complications account for 80% of the total NHS spend on diabetes, and supporting patients to better manage their condition through access to CGMs and flash glucose meters will inevitably seek to reduce that cost. That is a significant saving, before we even begin considering the impact of hypoglycaemia on the UK economy as a whole.

Finally, during Prime Minister’s questions, in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland, the Prime Minister stated:

“There are many youngsters out there, from tiny tots to teenagers, living with type 1 diabetes. It is important that we send a message to them that their future is not limited: they can do whatever they want.”—[Official Report, 20 July 2016; Vol. 613, c. 821-22.]

I am sure that all of us in the Chamber today very much welcome her comments. I hope that they represent a forthcoming commitment by the Government to improve access to life-changing technologies for adults and children to reduce any obstacles that they might otherwise face.

I ask the Government to commit to working to improve access to diabetes management education, support, and access to emerging technologies. We must ensure that emerging technologies reach the public in a timely ​manner, and that innovation, to make them even more user-friendly and to encourage take-up, is also supported and encouraged by the Government.

A national focus on access to diabetes technologies has its roots not only in clinical, but in financial arguments, as well having national support. So far, more than 26,000 people, from every single constituency in the UK, have signed a petition initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland calling for CGMs to be made available as a right on the NHS to adults and children living with type 1 diabetes. Moreover, 25 cross-party colleagues have signed an early-day motion in a similar vein. I extend my support to those cross-party calls to ensure that such technologies become accessible to adults and children living with diabetes—especially type 1—so as, ultimately, to improve the lives of those who need those technologies.

Diabetes Technologies Westminster Hall Debate 23.11.16

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon spoke in a debate on diabetes technologies and what more needs to be done to support those living with diabetes.  You can read...

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a debate on Self-Care. In her speech, Sharon raised the need to ensure self care was fully supported by the Government o help reduce pressures on the wider NHS and health services and also the impact of cuts to public health funding will have on self care.

You can read Sharon's speech here: Sharon Hodgson MP Self Care Westminster Hall Debate 22.11.16

Speech pasted below:

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

It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Walker. I welcome this important debate and the fact that it has been secured during Self Care Week - 

Sir Kevin Barron

Just after it.

Mrs Hodgson

Just after Self Care Week. I commend my right hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Sir Kevin Barron) for securing this debate and for his excellent speech, which shows his deep knowledge of and passion for all matters relating to the health of our nation, especially with regard to preventive health measures. I thank him for that.

This debate is especially important, as it is the first time we have had a dedicated debate on self-care in a very long time. We heard an excellent contribution from the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Martyn Day). Before we hear from the Minister, I want to look at the issue of self-care and the wider picture of preventive measures through the lens of the cultural shift in the NHS away from care and repair to prevention and wellbeing promotion. I will also look at how aspects of current Government policy, such as the cuts to public health funding—I know I keep banging on about that, but it is important—is detrimental to our shared vision for an improved NHS and to achieving a healthier nation.

When NHS England’s “Five Year Forward View” was published just over two years ago, we were promised a radical upgrade in prevention and public health. That belief in reshaping the approach of the NHS and our health services away from a sickness alleviation service towards a wellbeing service that promotes healthier lifestyles choices, improved wellbeing and the prevention of ill health through behavioural change is supported across the NHS and in wider society.​

That shift is paramount when we see the NHS in a state of crisis, with longer A&E waiting times and GP appointments becoming harder and harder to come by. One in four patients wait at least a week to see their GP. My husband had to wait three weeks to see the GP because it was not an emergency, but he thought it was an emergency; sometimes we do not know, and it is up to the doctor to decide what is important and what is not.

Some parts of the NHS are at crisis point. That is not a party political point at all; it is supported by health organisations such as the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation, which professed this time last year that the NHS was at risk of a “catastrophic collapse”. If the worrying trends in waiting times that I have described are ever to be reversed and we are to save the NHS, we need to have a wholesale rethink about the way we approach health policy. Prevention must be the key, and self-care should be a central part of that reconsidered approach.

Self-care is about empowering people and patients to maintain their own health through informed lifestyle choices, better awareness of symptoms and better awareness of when it is important to seek professional advice—for example, for possible cancer symptoms, where early diagnosis is absolutely crucial and a matter of life and death—and when an ailment can be treated by someone themselves in the appropriate manner by talking to their community pharmacist, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley described on the occasion of a family holiday. With improved confidence, people can take control of their own health or long-term conditions much better and make decisions that are far better for the NHS.

It is completely understandable that when we are unsure about the cause of symptoms or the best course of treatment or care, our first port of call is the NHS. However, being more aware of how we can treat ourselves and having preventive practices in place that reduce the prevalence of ill health will help go some way towards pulling the NHS back from the brink. The NHS is a trusted bastion, but sadly we are seeing more and more people accessing NHS services when there is no need and when a chat to one of our excellent community pharmacists would have sufficed—for example, in the cases we have heard about today of splinters, paper cuts, hiccups or broken nails. A bit of common sense is all that is needed, certainly not a trip to A&E.

In 2014, A&E departments across the country dealt with 3.7 million visits for self-treatable conditions such as those mentioned today, as well as the common cold, flu or muscle pain, combined with 52 million visits to the GP for similar conditions. It is no wonder people cannot get an appointment when some people are going to see their GP for that sort of thing. That has an estimated cost to the NHS of more than £10 billion over the past five years, which is not a small or insignificant amount of money.

Self-care is a crucial preventive measure that must be developed further to ensure that the NHS is as resilient as possible and can respond in more effective and meaningful ways to the nation’s health. With all that in mind, it is deeply worrying that the vision set out in the “Five Year Forward View” has progressed little or not at all. That is seen most clearly through the Making Every Contact Count initiative, which aims to make NHS staff members an important part of boosting ​awareness of healthy living, rather than only administering healthcare to the sick. It is a fantastic initiative. In theory, that strategy can go far in addressing issues around lifestyle choices such as smoking, drugs, diet and alcohol consumption by just adding a one or two-minute conversation when a healthcare professional already has someone in front of them.

It is worrying that the progress and roll-out of that scheme is patchy, despite there being lots of good practice across the country, such as the social prescribing service in Rotherham that my right hon. Friend talked about. Where such system change is flourishing and showing that it can support a reduction in pressures on NHS services such as A&E and GP practices, it should be encouraged, and the roll-out should be far more substantial.

I hope the Minister can give us some reassurance on three key asks for the Make Every Contact Count initiative: first, that we see progress made on the scheme in the new year, as promised by Professor Fenton from Public Health England during the second oral evidence session for the APPG on primary care and public health inquiry; secondly, that best practice is made more readily available to improve provision across the country through the Self Care Forum’s database of best practice; and thirdly, that he commits to ensuring CCGs prioritise implementation of the scheme in their local areas and that training is provided for staff, to equip them to provide consistent self-care messaging.

It should not go without saying that there are examples across the country that show the innovative and positive impacts of improving self-care, such as a scheme in my own neck of the woods in South Tyneside—the neighbouring borough to my own—where a borough-wide conversation has been developed that shifts away from asking, “How can I help you?” and instead asks, “How can I help you to help yourself?”

Those initiatives need funding and encouraging from Government to succeed. However, what we are currently seeing has been described as a frustrating and perverse approach to preventive measures, with cuts to public health funding of £200 million in last year’s Budget, along with an average real-terms cut of 3.9% each year to 2021, announced in last year’s autumn statement. Hopefully tomorrow we will see our new Chancellor go some way to rectifying and reversing that; we can live in hope, unless the Minister has some insight into what the Chancellor will announce. We will keep our fingers crossed.

The Minister is well aware of my opinion on those cuts, because we discuss them every time we meet, and the need to rethink the whole approach, but it is not only me saying this. Only recently, the Health Committee, chaired by the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston)—who I am sure would have been here today if not for the health debate coming up in the Chamber very soon—uncovered serious concerns about the finances and funding of the NHS and public health. In a letter to the Health Secretary in October, the Committee said:

“All the indicators suggest that demand is continuing to grow and that we need to go further on prevention”.

I could not agree more. These cuts are a false economy and are exacerbating the situation within our health services. We are seeing funding directed to our crisis-ridden A&E departments, which are having to crisis-manage failures that could have been addressed a lot sooner.​

The Minister needs fully to understand that to make cuts to one part of our health service without considering the impact on other parts is leading us down the road to rack and ruin. To give him some understanding of the cuts, I suggest that he look at the Health Committee report “Public health post-2013”. The Select Committee does good work, but the Chair is not here to hear me highlight all this work. The report that I have just mentioned highlights research by the Association of Directors of Public Health, which found that local authorities are planning deep cuts to public health services due to the cuts coming from central Government to local authorities. It shows a marked rise for 2016-17 compared with 2015-16.

The Government need to have a wholesale rethink of the funding of the NHS and public health services that sees a redirection to prevention, which will go some way towards addressing many of the problems in our health service that are now being documented weekly. I hope that the Minister takes some time in his response to consider the points that I have raised in relation to public health funding and how current actions are failing the vision of the five year forward view and the health of our nation. Self-care needs properly to be funded and supported to be innovative, so that we ensure that the continuing crisis facing the NHS can be reversed. We cannot continue as we are, because our NHS is too precious to let it fail. The health of the nation needs to be protected, where possible, to enable people to lead long, happy and fulfilling lives.

Self-Care Westminster Hall Debate 22.11.16

As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a debate on Self-Care. In her speech, Sharon raised the need to ensure self care was fully supported by the Government...

Sharon met with ex-service men and women volunteer poppy sellers, who are giving up their time this month once again, to raise money and awareness, for this year’s appeal.  2214 (Usworth) Squadron, Air Training Corps Cadet volunteers were also out in good force to help make sure the appeal is a big success.

2016_11_05_RBL_Cadets_cropped_P1015211.jpg

(pictured above) Sharon with the volunteer poppy sellers - the Washington Branch of the Royal British Legion and the 2214 (Usworth) ATC Cadets - at ASDA in the Galleries, Washington

Sharon Hodgson MP helps support Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal 2016

Sharon met with ex-service men and women volunteer poppy sellers, who are giving up their time this month once again, to raise money and awareness, for this year’s appeal.  2214... Read more

Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Oct-Nov 2016 number 89

2016_11_04_number_89_gc_report_cover-1.jpg

Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Oct-Nov 2016 number 89

Sharon Hodgson MPs report Oct-Nov 2016 number 89

Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Oct-Nov 2016 number 89 Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Oct-Nov 2016 number 89 Read more

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website. 

Sharon_Echo_col_header_FIN.jpg

Last week saw Nissan solidify its relationship with Sunderland and the North East further when the company announced that their two new car models, the new Qashqai and the X-Trail SUV, would be built here in Sunderland.

The news which was expected later this month, was brought forward and definitely lifted a weight off the shoulders of those who work at the Sunderland plant and within the supply chain, here in the North East and across the country.

It is not surprising that many people were apprehensive about the impending decision, especially after comments by Chief Executive, Carlos Ghosn, on future investment here in Sunderland due to Brexit. But what this news has done is allowed families who depend on Nissan for their jobs and livelihoods to plan for the future, now that they are secure.

It is only right that we celebrate the good fortune our City and the wider North East region received last week, and recognise the sigh of relief for the many tens of thousands of families, rather than dampen the jubilant mood felt across the region with scepticism. There will be time to discuss what deal was struck and the content of the letter, but for now, this is good news and that should not be forgotten.

+ This week saw LACA’s National School Meals Week return.

National School Meals Week is a year-round initiative which promotes pupils taking up school meals and showcases the improvement seen over the years. Our school catering workforce is larger than the British Navy but can often be overlooked when it comes to celebrating the improvements we have seen in school food over the last decade.

That is why it is important that we recognise all of their contributions to the health, education and well-being of our children.

It was for this reason that I was delighted to invite Audrey Chappell of Albany Primary School to come down to London and cook in Parliament’s kitchens, and for me to go along and see her in action and hear about her day’s experiences. It was lovely to hear about everything Audrey got up to on her visit and how it would not be an experience she will forget.

ECHO COLUMN: Right to be jubilant over the Nissan deal

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website.  Last week saw Nissan solidify its relationship with Sunderland and the North East...

 

Sunderland_Cultural_Partnership_2021.jpgOn Thursday 27th October, Sharon attended the launch of the Sunderland Cultural Partnership at Ryhope’s Engine Museum as part of Sunderland’s City of Culture 2021 Bid.

The Sunderland Cultural Partnership is a collaboration led by the University of Sunderland, Sunderland City Council and Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, with support from Arts Council England. The aim of the partnership is to coordinate a cultural vision for the City, along with promoting joint planning and facilitating better engagement between partners across Sunderland.

Following the launch, Sharon said:

“It was wonderful to attend the launch of the Sunderland Cultural Partnership at Ryhope’s Engine Museum and see what Sunderland has to offer culturally being showcased, bringing together our industrial heritage and the vibrant culture which flourishes here in Sunderland.

“The Partnership will be an important way for everyone to get involved, from businesses to young people to the wider community, and come together to show exactly what Sunderland has to offer as we bid for UK City of Culture 2021. I look forward to seeing more from the Partnership in the coming weeks and months, ahead of our formal bid next year.

“Sunderland has so much to offer culturally to the country, but also to the world, and winning the City of Culture bid in 2021 will help put Sunderland on the cultural map and will have such a positive impact on our City’s economic, social and cultural future, Wearsiders and the wider North-East. It is a win-win situation.”

You can find out more about the Sunderland Cultural Partnership here.

Sharon attends launch of the Sunderland Cultural Partnership as part of City of Culture 2021 Bid

  On Thursday 27th October, Sharon attended the launch of the Sunderland Cultural Partnership at Ryhope’s Engine Museum as part of Sunderland’s City of Culture 2021 Bid. The Sunderland Cultural...

The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better.

Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.

To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.