Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo.
This week (June 15 to 25, 2018) marks Royal Life Saving Society UK’s (RLSS UK) Drowning Prevention Week.
In partnership with the RNLI and Swim England, RLSS UK aim to reduce the number of drowning and near-drowning incidents that occur in the UK every year, by showing people how to be safe and have fun near water.
Sadly, drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in children in the UK, and over 700 people drown in the UK and Ireland every year – equivalent to one person drowning every 20 hours.
As summer quickly approaches, it is important that children and adults are taught about the dangers of the water, especially open water, and cold water shock.
Whilst jumping in the river on a hot summer’s day might seem an attractive way to cool off, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
As the vice-chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Water Safety and Drowning Prevention and as a local MP, I have heard many stories of lives being tragically lost in the water; including Chloe Fowler, 14, and Tonibeth Purvis, 15, in July 2013 and Ross Irwin, a 22-year-old, who sadly drowned in the River Wear at Fatfield two days before Christmas in 2016.
A water safety throwline board was unveiled last month, close to the spot where Ross drowned at Fatfield Riverside.
It was unveiled by his father, David Irwin, of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Northumbria Police, Sunderland City Council and RLSS.
This was the first throwline board unveiled in the North East, and I hope there will be many more boards alongside our open waterways in Washington and Sunderland and across the region very soon.
I will continue my work with the APPG on Water Safety and Drowning to urge the Government to increase water safety education in schools, and encourage them to install initiatives such as throwline boards, so that we can soon see the number of people, especially young people, drowning in the UK decline.
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo. This week (June 15 to 25, 2018) marks Royal Life Saving Society UK’s (RLSS UK) Drowning... Read more
This Clean Air Day, Sharon Hodgson MP is encouraging her constituents to help improve air quality for all by ditching their cars and getting active.
Constituents in Washington and Sunderland West are encouraged to cycle or walk when they can. This will limit their pollution contribution but also protect their heart health, as air pollution levels can be significantly higher inside a car.
As well as encouraging individual action, Sharon Hodgson MP is also calling for national action to make the UK’s air safe to breathe, especially for her constituents with heart and circulatory conditions whose health is at increased risk from air pollution.
Air pollution is now the largest environmental risk factor linked to deaths in England, with the majority of air-pollution related deaths worldwide (58%) caused by heart disease or stroke. The British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) research has shed light on how health-harmful pollutants such as particulate matter (PM) - small particles found in emissions from diesel engines and wood burning stoves- can cause damage to people’s cardiovascular health and increase the risk of potentially deadly heart attacks and stroke.
Sharon Hodgson MP attended a photo-call organised by the BHF in Parliament ahead of Clean Air Day to express her support for action that will ensure that the health of people living in Washington and Sunderland West isn’t at risk from the air they breathe.
The BHF is urging government to make this happen by adopting World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guidelines into UK law.
The charity believes it is vital that the UK’s air quality legislation has the protection of health at its core. This will ensure that efforts to reduce air pollution achieve meaningful outcomes, particularly for vulnerable groups whose lives are impacted by outdoor air pollution.
The EU air quality limits that the UK currently follows are equal to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended upper limits for nitrogen dioxide but are less stringent than the WHO’s guidelines for health-harmful pollutants.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said:
“It’s important that we have better air quality so my constituents living with a heart and circulatory condition don’t need to worry about dirty air damaging their health when they leave the house. Research has shown that even the smallest reduction can make a big difference in preventing new cases of coronary heart disease.
“I’m supporting the call for all effective action to be taken to clean up our air.”
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said:
“It’s great to have the support of Sharon Hodgson MP with encouraging action to promote and protect the nation’s heart health from the effects of air pollution.
“We know that to have good heart and circulatory health, people need to be active. But BHF-funded research suggests that poor air quality can cancel out the cardiovascular benefits of exercise in vulnerable people. Further BHF-funded research has also shown that particulate matter increases the risk of potentially fatal complications for people with a heart or circulatory condition.
“To reduce this risk, we urgently need WHO limits for PM to be adopted into new air quality legislation as soon as possible.”
You can learn more about the BHF’s research and work on air pollution by visiting https://www.bhf.org.uk/airpollutionpolicy
This Clean Air Day, Sharon Hodgson MP is encouraging her constituents to help improve air quality for all by ditching their cars and getting active. Constituents in Washington and Sunderland...
Towards the end of last year, I stepped down as the Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer to the position of Vice-Chair, due to an increasing volume of work. Breast cancer is of course still a hugely important issue for me, and one that comes under my brief as Shadow Minister for Public Health. I thought it may be helpful to provide constituents with an update on some of the breast cancer related events that have been in the news recently.
Breast Cancer Inequality Report
During my time as Co-Chair of the APPG on Breast Cancer, I was proud to be part of the initial work on a report on geographical inequalities in breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and care across England. The report was published earlier this year, and contained some extremely concerning findings.
Although overall outcomes for breast cancer patients have been improving in recent years, there exists huge variety in the level of the treatment, care and support available to women in different parts of the country.
For example, based on where a woman lives she may be more than twice as likely to die from breast cancer under the age of 75 than a woman treated in a different area, and a third less likely to have attended breast cancer screening in the last three years compared to a woman living in another part of the country.
It is entirely unacceptable that access to vital breast cancer care can be so dependent on a postcode lottery of services available. The report made some important recommendations, including that ‘Health Education England and all Cancer Alliances should urgently ensure there are enough healthcare professionals to deliver high-quality and timely diagnosis, treatment and care to local women.’
Following on from the report’s publication, I wrote to the Northern Cancer Alliance to highlight the findings and request a meeting to discuss how they are tackling the challenges within our region. This meeting took place recently, and was extremely informative. I was pleased to hear that once their workforce plans have been finalised, they will be published in order to ensure transparency.
I look forward to seeing these plans once they have been made available.
Breast Cancer Screening Error
Last month, Jeremy Hunt came to the House of Commons to give a statement on a breast cancer screening error that led to thousands of women missing vital examinations.
Although the number of people affected has now been revised down from the figure originally given, the extent of this mistake is truly astounding. Indeed it has had a devastating impact on the lives of many women, and may have led to the premature deaths of up to 74 people.
I now believe that the Department for Health should expand the capacity of the screening programme, and commit to employing more staff in order to ensure that all women are seen in a timely manner.
Figures provided by the Secretary of State show that within Washington and Sunderland West, 110 of women were affected.
I know that many people in our constituency may be worried by this situation. If you think that you may have been affected then there are a number of ways that you can seek more information below:
- Call the breast screening helpline number 0800 169 2692.
- Go the NHS Choices website for more information: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-cancer-screening/missed-invitations/
- Contact my office if I can be of any further assistance on: firstname.lastname@example.org or (0191) 417 2000
Towards the end of last year, I stepped down as the Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer to the position of Vice-Chair, due to an increasing volume...
Sharon Hodgson MP attended a Carers Week speednetworking event with carers and charities in Westminster, pledging her support to unpaid carers in Washington and Sunderland West.
The event was in support of Carers Week, to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the 6.5 million people across the UK who currently provide care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or who needs extra help as they grow older.
It matched up MPs and carers to share experiences of caring and the support they need to take care of their own mental and physical health and well-being.
Eight national charities have come together to call for urgent support for unpaid carers to be Healthy and Connected as new research released at the start of Carers Week reveals the toll that caring can take on many carers’ own health and wellbeing.
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“I was delighted to be able to show my support for the carers in my constituency at the Carers Week event and I pledge to support the 10,157 carers in Washington and Sunderland West through my work in Parliament.
Unpaid carers make a huge contribution to our society, providing vital and often hidden support to friends and family members, and it is right that we value them and ensure they have the right support at the right time. I look forward to working with the Carers Week charities, and, with unpaid carers, locally, to make a difference to their lives.”
Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK, on behalf of Carers Week, said:
“Without the unpaid care provided every year by family and friends, our health and care services would collapse. Yet, caring for a loved one too often means carers neglect their own mental and physical health.
Finding the time and space to be healthy, get enough sleep and maintain relationships with others are all huge challenges identified by carers. By working together during Carers Week we have a huge opportunity to make our communities more Carer Friendly and make a difference to those who contribute so much.”
Carers Week 2018 is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, MS Society and Which? Elderly Care and kindly supported by Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition.
For further information visit www.carersweek.org
Sharon pledges support to help carers be Healthy and Connected in Washington and Sunderland West for Carers Week 2018
Sharon Hodgson MP attended a Carers Week speednetworking event with carers and charities in Westminster, pledging her support to unpaid carers in Washington and Sunderland West. The event was in...
Over the past couple of days in Parliament, we have been voting on amendments to the EU (European Union) Withdrawal Bill.
As many people may be aware, I campaigned and voted to remain in the European Union. Despite this, I recognise that a majority of people voted to leave, and ultimately I respect the outcome of the referendum.
Respecting the result of the referendum however, does not mean giving Theresa May and the Conservative Government a blank cheque to force through a hard Brexit. It has been almost two years since the referendum took place, and the Government is still arguing about which negotiating position to take when it comes to important issues such as Customs, and Northern Ireland.
This chaotic instability is already damaging the economy, and putting people’s jobs at risk. The manufacturing industry has repeatedly warned that a failure to secure the right customs arrangement with the European Union could cause significant damage to the sector, and the economy more widely. Indeed the outgoing president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned this week that without a Customs Union, ‘there are sectors of manufacturing society in the UK which risk becoming extinct.’
It appears as though the Government is continuing to ignore these warnings, with its dogged insistence that we must leave the Customs Union, regardless of the cost.
Manufacturing makes up an integral part of the fabric of our region, and I will always vote in the best interests of my constituents. That is why I voted for amendments to force the Government to negotiate a continued customs union with the EU, although unfortunately they did not pass.
One of the most significant drivers for people voting to leave the European Union was the desire for the country to take back control. Sadly, this has not been the case, and the fact that Parliament was given just two days to debate 15 amendments to the Bill is yet another example of how democracy is being side-lined in this extremely important process.
I firmly believe that as elected representatives, Members of Parliament must have a truly meaningful vote on the deal negotiated with the EU. That is why I voted to retain an amendment made in the House of Lords that strengthens the terms of this meaningful vote.
This would have made clear that, should the Government's proposed withdrawal deal be defeated, it is for Parliament to say what happens next, not the Prime Minister. Theresa May faced the prospect of a humiliating defeat on this amendment, and has now promised all things to all people with a proposal to discuss the details at a later stage.
I do not accept that leaving the European Union means accepting whatever deal the Government comes back with, regardless of the real human cost that a bad deal, or ‘no-deal’ scenario could have. I therefore await details of the concession made by the Prime Minister, and will hold the Government to account to ensure it lives up to the promises made in Parliament.
I would like to thank every constituent who has written to me on this extremely important matter, I will be replying individually in due course. I welcome contributions to this debate from everyone in Washington & Sunderland West, the process of leaving the European Union is a matter of national interest, and one that I take extremely seriously.
Over the past couple of days in Parliament, we have been voting on amendments to the EU (European Union) Withdrawal Bill. As many people may be aware, I campaigned and...
Sharon Hodgson attended a launch event for National Fitness Day in Westminster this week (15 May), and is now urging her constituents of Washington and Sunderland West to put themselves forward to be a regional fitness hero ahead of the event, which takes place on Wednesday 26 September.
Sharon called on people to share a message about what fitness means to them online, using Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and the hashtag #Fitness2Me. From those who champion healthy lifestyles in their towns and communities, to those who have overcome the odds through physical activity, beaten depression or inspired young people to get active, the search aims to celebrate the role of fitness in every walk of life.
National Fitness Day is an annual campaign that celebrates the fun of fitness and physical activity, while highlighting the benefits leading an active lifestyle can have on our overall health on the most active day of the year.
The most inspiring #Fitness2Me heroes will be selected from 12 regions by organisers ukactive, the not-for-profit health body. Each hero will be invited to help get their local community active on National Fitness Day and their story will be promoted to a national audience in the run-up to the day.
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“National fitness day is an opportunity to encourage more people to become active and take part in activities across their community and have the chance to enjoy and share their love of physical activity.
In my position as Shadow Public Health Minister, I recognise the importance that physical activity has on everyone’s health and wellbeing. That is why I will be encouraging my constituents to get involved in National Fitness Day, and encouraging them to stay fit and active throughout the year.
It’s so easy to take part and is a brilliant way to bring the community together to celebrate the joy and health benefits that physical activity can bring.”
Last year, National Fitness Day saw more than 20,000 free activities take place across the UK and 5.1 million people getting physically active on the day.
Legendary ballerina Dame Darcey Bussell has declared her backing for National Fitness Day 2018, with the Strictly Come Dancing judge set to kick-off proceedings on the day with her dance fitness company DDMIX.
And the Department of Health has added its support by recognising the crucial role of physical activity in the nation’s health and wellbeing.
Public Health Minister Steve Brine said:
“Being active is so important – it adds years to our lives, saves billions of pounds for our NHS and helps to manage and prevent over 20 chronic conditions, including heart disease, type-2 diabetes and mental health problems. That’s why I’m delighted to support National Fitness Day – which can play a crucial role in getting the nation moving.”
AXA PPP healthcare has also renewed its commitment to supporting healthy workplaces by extending its headline partnership of National Fitness Day for another three years. The partnership includes a focus on supporting employers to promote a physically active workforce through AXA PPP’s ‘Flying Start’ campaign, which calls on employers to help their staff enjoy an active start to National Fitness Day.
Gordon Henderson, Marketing Director at AXA PPP healthcare, said: “We’re excited to be partnering with National Fitness Day, for 2018 and beyond. Busy work schedules and family commitments can mean it’s hard to make time for physical activity but we believe employers have a key role to play in helping their people to get moving. National Fitness Day is a great way for workplaces to get involved and build being active into their working day.”
CEO of ukactive Steven Ward said: “National Fitness Day is all about celebrating the personal experiences and stories that physical activity brings to our lives. Whatever fitness means to you, we’re calling on you to share that message with the nation so that more people can be inspired to live healthy, active lifestyles.
“National Fitness Day continues to go from strength to strength and we’re delighted that AXA PPP healthcare has committed to a further three years on our journey, helping us to reach into Britain’s workplaces with their Flying Start campaign.”
How to get involved:
- There are lots of ways to share what fitness means to you: post a message to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, add a photo of yourself or upload a video message – just don’t forget to include the hashtag #Fitness2Me
- If you would like to share your fitness story in more detail, email email@example.com
- To discover more or to register your activities and events for National Fitness Day, visit: nationalfitnessday.com
Sharon Hodgson attended a launch event for National Fitness Day in Westminster this week (15 May), and is now urging her constituents of Washington and Sunderland West to put themselves...
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.
Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) recently launched a public consultation on urgent care centres in the city.
Two of the three centres that will be affected by the new proposals are in my constituency, Bunny Hill and Washington.
I am appalled by the revelation of this consultation, especially as I was only alerted to its existence on the same morning, just hours before the general public, and I share the concerns and frustration constituents may feel about it.
Closing down urgent care centres in local communities, who may not have access to transport to travel further afield or the time to do so, is a shameful symptom of this Conservative Government’s austerity measures, who continue to deprive the most vulnerable in society from the services they need.
I am also bitterly disappointed that of the nine forthcoming public discussions, just three of them are outside of typical working hours (after 5pm), with just one starting at 6pm.
I am deeply concerned that this means that some working people will not be able to participate in these discussions, and may be excluded from the consultation.
I am also aware that there is no consultation at the Bunny Hill Centre, so the people these changes will impact the most will be excluded from the consultation process.
The Bunny Hill Centre was once home to one of Labour’s fantastic Sure Start Children’s centres, but this is sadly no longer there as was a casualty of austerity and one of the over 1000 centres that have been closed down since 2010, despite reassurances from David Cameron who said Sure Start was safe in his hands.
Families need support, and to take away that support is to remove a life line they may one day desperately need.
Unfortunately, I do not have any more sway over the consultation than local residents, but I will be meeting with David Gallagher in the coming weeks ahead to discuss my concerns and will be making representations on behalf of my constituents.
In the meantime, constituents should participate in the consultation by either attending the public discussions or completing the online survey, details of which can be found online here: http://www.sunderlandccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/urgent-care-services/public-consultation-get-involved/
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website. Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) recently launched a public consultation on urgent care centres in...
Updated 16/05/2018 - Sharon writes to Baroness Cumberlege regarding the Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review
Click on the image above to download the letter.
Previous post of 13/04/2018 below
Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review
Over many years, Sharon has met with victims, campaigners and charities who support and campaign for justice for victims of Primodos, Valproate and Vaginal Mesh.
Updated 16/05/2018 - Sharon writes to Baroness Cumberlege regarding the Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review Click on the image above to download the letter. Previous post of 13/04/2018 belowMedicines... Read more
This week marks male cancer charity, Orchid’s Male Cancer Awareness Week, which provides an opportunity to raise awareness of male specific cancers – prostate, testicular and penile cancer.
Whilst these cancers aren’t widely talked about, over 50,000 men in the UK will be diagnosed with a male specific cancer in the next 12 months.
The focus of this year’s Male Cancer Awareness Week is on a cancer which one in eight men in the UK will develop at some point in their lives – prostate cancer.
Despite the fact that prostate cancer is due to be the most prevalent cancer in the UK within the next 12 years, a report published by Orchid this week found that over 60% of men are not confident in identifying the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer.
Like many cancers, if prostate cancer is diagnosed early, then the likelihood of survival increases.
However, Orchid report some worrying statistics:
· 37% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in the late stages;
· 42% of prostate cancer patients saw their GP with symptoms twice or more before they were referred;
· 23% of all cancer cases are diagnosed through A&E, with the majority of these cases at the late stage.
That is why this week is so important in raising awareness of male specific cancers, so that the signs and symptoms can be spotted and action, if needed, can be taken.
I am therefore encouraging constituents to take a look at Orchid’s ‘F.A.C.E up to prostate cancer’ campaign, so that they can think about and are aware of 4 key risk factors: family history; age; change in urinary habits and ethnicity.
If patients and health professionals are equipped with the knowledge and confidence to spot signs and symptoms of cancers, it could be detected and diagnosed early, which can increase the likelihood of survival.
If you are affected or worried by any of this, then you should have a conversation with your GP.
This week marks male cancer charity, Orchid’s Male Cancer Awareness Week, which provides an opportunity to raise awareness of male specific cancers – prostate, testicular and penile cancer. Whilst these...
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.
Last week, the House of Lords passed a motion calling on the Government to postpone their changes to free school meals, which would see over a million children in poverty miss out on a free, hot and healthy school meal.
This follows from a heated debate in the Commons earlier this month where Conservative MPs cried fake news instead of addressing the fact that children growing up in poverty are missing out once again.
The Lords vote gives the Government an opportunity to think again on their policy and consider how all children living in poverty, including those in working families, can be guaranteed at least one decent meal each day.
If the Government pushes through with these proposals, the very aims of Universal Credit to always make work pay, are redundant as the proposals will create a cliff-edge which will remove the incentive for working parents below the £7,400 threshold to take extra hours at work or seek a promotion.
According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, only 3% of families with children are currently on Universal Credit, so only 3% of children will have their Free School Meals protected, regardless of their parent’s earnings.
Free School Meals are a lifeline to thousands of working families up and down the country, as they ensure that their children receive a hot and healthy meal at least once a day.
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on School Food, I have seen how pupils from all backgrounds can benefit from a free school meal, as it gives them the energy they need to learn, grow and develop.
I am therefore calling on the Government to ensure that every child on Universal Credit receives a Free School Meal so that no child growing up in poverty misses out on a free, hot and healthy school meal.
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website. Last week, the House of Lords passed a motion calling on the Government to postpone...