The biggest news for me this week outside Covid, was the announcement of the Health and Social Care white paper. This gives us a framework on which to build a new system, strengthen our NHS and integrate social care which has long been overdue. I hope that this will be a long term solution, if you have any ideas particularly if you come from a health or social care background, please feed in any thoughts to me.
I spoke with Winchester Action on Climate Change this week – I have asked them to feed in any thought about the Environment Bill. As an MP, it is difficult to be an expert on every subject so it is good to be able to listen to those who know much more than I do and I am happy to feed in any thoughts to Ministers.
Hampshire’s over 70s should be vaccinated by the 15th February and all health and care staff. There are a number of people who are refusing to have the vaccine which is disappointing. It is a safe vaccine which is apparent as 13m people in the UK have now had it without any problems so please urge anyone that you may know that is having second thoughts to please get a jab as it is protecting the rest of us. I was not happy to hear on the Local Resilience Forum this week that some health and social care workers are refusing, they are putting vulnerable people at risk and I will be talking to Ministers about this.
In Parliament, I spoke in the Armed Forces bill debate. Having spent nearly two years as the Chair of the SE Region Veterans Advisory and Pension Committee (VAPC), I have some knowledge of the Armed Forces covenant and how it works on the ground. We are very lucky in Hampshire to have excellent Armed Forces Champions in each council and a lot of support for our many armed forces personnel and veterans, but not every council is in the same position so I asked if VAPCs around the country could have a statutory role in monitoring the Armed Forces Covenant. The Bill also puts improves the Service Justice System and I hope will speed up complaints as they have been taking too long.
It is great that vaccinations are being rolled out so quickly and I agree with the priority that vaccinating the most vulnerable and likely to die from covid-19 have had their jabs first, but I am concerned about other front line workers and will continue to ask Ministers to get them vaccinated as the next priority. The Prime Minister will announce the next stage on 22nd February.
We are going to have elections on May 6th. We have elections for the Police and Crime Commissioner, County Council and district council elections in Winchester and Havant. It may be that you would prefer a postal vote rather than going to a polling station where you may have to queue especially as there will be social distancing and extra precautions. We are asking people to take their own pencil to the voting booth too. You can get a postal vote here:
Lastly, I had a very amusing zoom call with MPs and the High Commissioners of Australia and New Zealand to celebrate their national days. This included us singing all three national anthems, unfortunately everyone had different broadband speeds so it was not as it should be – I am certainly looking forward to the end of lockdown.
It is Parliamentary recess next week so there will be no weekly update until the 26th February.
Have a good weekend and thank goodness it is warming up next week.