Welcoming New Breast Cancer Clinic at the Mermaid Centre

From Monday, GPs will be able to refer patients to a new breast cancer clinic at the Mermaid Centre at Treliske Hospital. 

Clinicians at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) and NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group (KCCG) worked together to launch the new clinic for anyone with a suspected cancer who needs to be seen and assessed. 

This latest modernisation initiative illustrates the continued aim for maintaining excellence through innovation, collaboration and adaptation to the changing needs of the community. 

The Mermaid Centre, which is recognised as a gold standard service, has been based at the Truro hospital for more than 20 years, and approximately 17,000 men and women are seen every year. Largely as a result of effective public health campaigns the numbers of people referred to the service are growing each month. 

Clinical leaders at Treliske say that these small changes have been designed to meet the recommended and safe best practice nationally and that they are vital for ensuring people receive the service they expect and need from the breast cancer service. 

I am sure that all readers of this column will have a friend or family member affected by breast cancer. My mother sadly died of breast cancer in her early fifties at a time when there were virtually no breast cancer services in Cornwall and patients had to travel to Plymouth. Since then survival rates have steadily and significantly improved. The services now provided are amongst the best in the country and I am pleased that clinicians say that more patients will be seen more quickly. Anyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer will begin treatment within 31 days of their diagnosis, and within 62 days of their original referral to the service. 

Ensuring that our NHS has the resources needed to provide excellent and safe care to local people remains my top priority and I am pleased that funding continues to rise each year. 

Mental health is just as important as physical health and is often interrelated so I am pleased that our local commissioners of services, the KCCG are spending more of the increasing money they are given on improving access to local services, more than the national average. 

We know that at the moment demand for some services outstrips supply. I understand that training new staff takes time and I am pleased that later this month a Mental Health Strategy for Cornwall will be launched. Healthwatch Cornwall is the independent and publicly funded body that is the voice of the patient and will be promoting public involvement with the strategy, so do look out for ways in which you can be involved.  

I have met with the KCCG and asked them to take a life course approach to promoting good mental health. From the birth of a child, through the stages of education into the workplace and towards the end of life. Partnership working will be key to improving wellbeing and health outcomes. 

First published in the West Briton 09/05/19

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Supporting local public services

Happy Easter!

You would be forgiven for thinking that MPs are exclusively, focussed on Brexit. Important though that is, so are all the other priorities of my constituents. Supporting our vital public services is a top priority for many local people.

Thanks to significant investment and the dedicated work of our NHS leaders and professionals, local health services are improving. I was instrumental in making the case for changes in the formula used by NHS England to allocate funding for our local services. Past and recent changes better reflect the needs of our community and the costs of delivery. Every year our NHS funding has increased and will do for the next four years. There is more to do but it is good to see improvements for patients noted by the regulator and the hospital inspectors of the Care Quality Commission.

I work closely with our local NHS leaders, securing Cornwall’s fair share of funding and supporting their development of new services. This year we will see the publication and public consultation of the Mental Health Strategy for Cornwall. Along with a significant increase in mental health services for people of all ages. The increased use of social prescribing by more Cornish MPs is making a really positive difference too.

I believe that the interventions of NHS England is helping Treliske turn a corner and significantly improve patient safety and timelines in accessing services is. Treliske has always been highly rated for the quality of care provided by staff to patients.

I have been working with our Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Ms Alison Hernandez, to raise concerns regarding community policing. I am concerned that we simply don’t have enough visible policing in our community. So I am pleased that my concerns were listened to and our Police will receive more funding. The number of Police Officers will be increasing to 3,015 by 2019/20, an overall increase of 115. They will continue with our team of 200 existing PCSOs.

The focus of this investment to date includes a significant increase in the capacity on roads policing and road safety as well as an increase in the number of armed response officers across Devon and Cornwall.

Road safety is one of the major issues raised by the public across our communities, last year we saw over 800 people killed or seriously injured in road accidents across our two counties. Through the Police’s new road safety strategy they are increasing the number of officers focused on roads policing and road safety by 24. This includes an additional 15 police constables, a sergeant and an inspector in the specialist roads policing unit and a dedicated proactive enforcement and prevention team ‘No Excuse’ targeting driver behaviour and the Fatal 5 causes of accidents – speed, fatigue, drink/drug driving, not wearing seatbelts and distractions like using mobile phones while driving. Many of these officers are already in place – the new No Excuse Team launched earlier this year.

In addition to more officers, there has been investment in the roll out of Body Worn Video (BWV) across all of our police officers in order to better protect officers and victims, catch criminals and provide transparency to the public.

While I believe it is essential to have visible community policing, especially for crime prevention, I understand that crime has changed and now most crime is invisible, perpetrated at home and often online. Fraud and crimes involving sexual harm, violence and abuse occur more than the ‘traditional’ crimes of theft.

As crime changes so does the police response and in addition to funding local policing there continues to be increased investment into our regional and national crime specialist agencies, protecting people from the serious and organised criminals who trade in so much human suffering from scams, drug dealing and child sexual exploitation to human trafficking and modern slavery.

I am proud of the new crimes that this government have created, along with stiff sentences and support for victims. Keeping people safe is the first responsibility of any government and I will continue to do all I can ensure that the Police have the resources and powers they need to prevent crime and keep us safe.

A key theme of my work since 2010, has been enabling our much valued public services to work more effectively together and with other organisations in our community. This is particularly important when supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities.

A good example, is this work that our local Police are doing in Falmouth with St Petrocs, Addaction, the NHS, our local councils, businesses, church and voluntary groups to support people who are misusing substances, with mental health problems who are spending much of their time in the town centre and sometimes sleeping rough.

The government has given considerable extra money to Cornwall Council to eradicate rough sleeping. There has been significant progress here in helping individuals to get back on their feet and on with their lives. Much more needs to be done and close partnership is the key to success.

Just like you, I don’t want to see people sleeping rough and living without hope. I will continue to do everything I can to support all those people who are working so tirelessly to improve people’s lives here.

Investing in our public services

We all depend on our much-valued public services and it’s been good to catch up with local leaders.  

Thanks to the dedicated work of our NHS professionals, local health services are improving. Cornwall is also receiving more funding than in the past. Working with our local NHS, I made the case for changes in the formula used by NHS England to allocate funding for our local services. Past and recent changes better reflect the needs of our community and the costs of delivery.  

Our NHS funding will continue to increase. There is more to do but it is good to see improvements for patients noted by the regulator and the hospital inspectors of the Care Quality Commission. 

The interventions of NHS England are also helping Treliske turn a corner and significantly improve patient safety and timelines in accessing services. Treliske has always been highly rated for the quality of care provided by staff. 

This year we will see the publication and public consultation of the Mental Health Strategy for Cornwall. Along with a significant increase in spending on mental health services for people of all ages. With the assistance of dedicated government and parish council funding, there is more GP social prescribing too. 

I have been working with our Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Alison Hernandez, to raise my concerns that we don’t have enough visible policing in our community. So I am pleased our Police this year will receive more resources. The number of Police Officers will be increasing to 3,015 by 2019/20, an overall increase of 115. They will continue with our team of 200 existing PCSOs. 

The focus of this investment to date includes a significant increase in the capacity on roads policing and road safety as well as an increase in the number of armed response officers across Devon and Cornwall.  

Road safety is one of the major issues raised by the public across our communities, last year we saw over 800 people killed or seriously injured in road accidents across the two counties. Through the Police’s new road safety strategy they are increasing the number of officers focused on roads policing and road safety by 24. A new ‘No Excuse’ prevention team will be targeting driver behaviour and the Fatal 5 causes of accidents – speed, fatigue, drink/drug driving, not wearing seatbelts and distractions like using mobile phones while driving. 

While I believe it is essential to have visible community policing, I understand that crime has changed and now most crime is invisible, perpetrated at home and often online. Fraud and crimes involving sexual harm, violence and abuse occur more than the more ‘traditional’ crimes. 

As crime changes so does the police response and in addition to funding local policing there continues to be increased investment into our regional and national crime specialist agencies, protecting people from the serious and organised criminals who trade in so much human suffering from scams, drug dealing and child sexual exploitation to human trafficking and modern slavery. 

My campaign to help parents spot serious illnesses in children

I want to enable every new parent to receive high quality training so that they are equipped to identify serious illness in their child and take appropriate action. This will build on the work that we have done to reduce avoidable deaths and injury from Sepsis. The Sepsis Trust continue to do excellent work, with Sepsis awareness being spread to our local ambulance service and into our nursery and primary school workforce. Now is the time to properly empower parents to spot the signs of not only Sepsis but other serious illness.  

Child and adolescent health in the UK has improved dramatically over the past 30 years. Despite this in 2017 just under 3,000 babies died before their first birthday and 1,707 children and young people died between the ages of one and nineteen. 

Recent estimates from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health suggest that 21% of child deaths involved ‘modifiable factors’ – something could possibly have been done to prevent death. 

They conclude that giving children and families the tools they need is critical. We should prioritise prevention and equip them with the knowledge and skill that enable them to better protect their own. 

The Department of Education, 2013, Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health in England, which conducted a meticulous audit into deaths of babies and children, reported identifiable failures in children’s direct care in just over a quarter of deaths, and potentially avoidable factors in a further 43% of deaths. 

The University of Northampton’s 2017 report, Before Arrival at Hospital: Factors affecting timing of admission to hospital with serious infectious illness, stated that parents often find it difficult to access relevant health information or to interpret symptoms. Also, that it can even be difficult for GPs to determine how serious a case is in the early stages. 

It is paramount that parents and carers have adequate knowledge and the skills to spot when their baby or child is sick, how to escalate their concerns and if necessary, challenge a decision made by a healthcare professional.  

I have been working with Cornwall Resus that was initially established in 2012 by two paediatric nurses to inform parents and carers of the necessary skills needed to empower them to recognise when their baby or child is unwell and to respond appropriately.  

They run parents’ courses in community centres around Cornwall that last 2-2.5 hours, including practical training on choking and resuscitation using life like dummies and allowing lots of time for questions and discussion at the end. It costs £30.00 per person. They have done 2 courses per month for the last 5 years with between 8-14 people per session. They have great feedback from parents and carers who say they feel more confident as well as from local GPs. 

Every parent and carer should have the opportunity to access similar training, and while £30 is a modest investment, it will be a barrier to some parents. I want the government to enable every parent or carer to have access to high quality evidence-based training, delivered by appropriate providers. I believe that this may help to reduce morbidity, mortality and very importantly, family distress, as well as helping to tackle the associated cost of treatment, hospital admissions and possible litigation. I also think it will reduce demand on the NHS.  

The NHS is rightly focussed on prevention of ill health and injury, so I am encouraging the Government to provide funding to enable a small group of local NHS commissioning groups to pilot the provision of infant first aid for all parents and collect comprehensive data to ascertain its effectiveness. 

First published on 01/04/19 in Politics Home https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/health-and-care/house/house-magazine/102881/sarah-newton-train-parents-spot-serious-illness

Helping people with mental health problems into employment

An estimated 300,000 people lose their job every year because of a mental health problem. Many wanted to and could have remained in employment had they been given the right support. 

I recently spoke at a CBI event to welcome the launch of Front of Mind, their new good practice guidance which helps employers improve health and wellbeing in the workplace. I also helped launch the free, online CIPD People Managers Guide to Mental Health. 

People with mental health conditions can make a valuable contribution in the workplace. We need real cultural change in every local workplace to prevent valued colleagues leaving a job they love because of mental health problems. 

For employers this can feel daunting. The mental health charity, Mind, found that while employers want to make mental health a priority, a third don’t know where to go for information or guidance. 

That’s exactly why practical resources like Front of Mind are so important. Highlighting examples from UK employers that are already leading the way, the guidance shows that successful businesses are taking key three steps: prioritising health and wellbeing from the top, targeting action towards early interventions and embedding good health and wellbeing in workplace culture. 

Not only does Front of Mind offer practical tips for employers, it also demonstrates the business case for making progress on workplace mental health. 

While the human suffering of losing a job is well understood, the impact of mental health issues for UK employers is less well known, costing between £33 billion and £42 billion every year. Clearly, making mental health a priority in the workplace is not just the right thing to do – it also makes good business sense. 

We don’t expect employers to do this on their own. Government has an important role to play in supporting people with a mental health condition. We’ve made good progress, with a range of support on offer. NHS spending on mental health increased to a record £11.86 billion last year, with a further investment of £1 billion by 2020/21. 

While there is much more to do, we have seen more investment in mental health services here, including specialist perinatal mental services and those for young people. Recruitment has started for staff at the new children and adolescent residential mental health centre, Sowenna in Bodmin.  

On employment support, the DWP is investing £115 million in partnership with the NHS, more than doubling the number of Employment Advisers in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Services. Our new Work and Health Programme is investing £500 million in tailored employment support, delivered by PLUSS in Cornwall it is helping disabled people and those with health conditions into a job. And our Access to Work scheme has a specialised mental health support service which has supported over 12,000 people. More than 90% of people who have used the service were still in their job after six months. 

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has secured £465,000 of Government funding to help local businesses recruit and retain people with disabilities and long-term health conditions. 

The Cornwall Work and Health Beacon Project is the first of its kind in the UK and aims to widen the pool of talent and experience available to employers, creating opportunities for local people and helping to tackle skills shortages. 

The project will work with businesses to co-create solutions and build their confidence to employ and retain people with disabilities and long-term health conditions, and ensure they have the right support and information available to them. 

In Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly there are almost 50,000 working age people whose day-to-day activities are limited by a long-term illness or disability. This is over 15% of the working age population, and well above the national average. 

The positive links between work and health are well proven and the Government is committed to supporting more disabled people into work. The LEP has already done some excellent work in this area and I want to encourage all local senior managers and business leaders to make a real, tangible commitment to improving workplace culture around mental health. This isn’t an issue for other businesses to deal with, or something we can leave HR to worry about. The leaders of any organisation are pivotal in shaping its culture and exemplary behaviour has to start at the top. 

My vision is of a society where everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential and no one loses their job because of poor mental health. It’s now time for every leader in every sector to take responsibility for creating an environment in which people feel able to talk about their mental health condition and get the help they need to thrive at work. 

First published in the Falmouth Wave Fabruary edition

Improving our local health services

Dame Sally Davis is the independent Chief Medical Officer for England, and her recently published annual report on the NHS provides invaluable insights. I agree with her analysis when she says, that while the NHS is often a source of national pride, but despite this, a narrative of health being a cost to society prevails. As the late Hans Rosling said, “When things are getting better we often don’t hear about them. This gives us a systematically too-negative impression of the world around us, which is very stressful.” 

Dame Sally says her report “offers cause for optimism and I conclude that it is realistic to aspire to better and more equitable health in the next 20 years. As the NHS has developed its long-term plan for the coming ten years, this report looks at the strategic opportunities over the coming two decades for the health of the nation more broadly.” 

Like Dame Sally, I believe we need to reposition health as one of the primary assets of our nation, contributing to both the economy and happiness. We also must measure and track progress in our development of health as a nation and our fairness as a society in delivering improving health outcomes. I support her recommendation that the Government need to develop a composite Health Index that recognises this and is tracked alongside our nation’s GDP and the Measuring National Well-being programme. 

Health is generally used to mean the ‘absence of ill-health’. We often focus on the NHS as an ‘illness service’ rather than acknowledging the complex interactions in society that influence our health as individuals. Healthcare is often spoken of as a cost to the state and society rather than an investment that generates returns for the individual, communities and the nation. The NHS and public health services are not a burden on our finances – they help to build our future. Moreover, the good health of our nation is the bedrock of our happiness and prosperity. 

Health is an asset that we must protect and promote and is affected by the conditions in which we live and work. These conditions can be health-promoting or health-harming, and often governments, industry, and societies are responsible for those conditions, not the individual. We all have some responsibility for our own health, but we are not individually responsible for the house or neighbourhood we are born into, the school we attended, nor the health environment we live in. 

The health system needs to adapt for each individual and ensure both their environment and the care that they receive is helping them achieve ‘good health’. One example is our local social prescribing, which acknowledges our expanded understanding of physical, mental and social health and is an opportunity for the traditional health service to utilise, enhance and amplify existing schemes, including employment. Our local WinterWellness programme is another. One size clearly does not fit all, and this requires different types of care accessed through different places and different ways. 

 

International Day for Persons with Disabilities

Monday was the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. It is a United Nations-led day, and the theme this year is “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. 

To mark this occasion, I launched a new stakeholder engagement forum to bring the voices of disabled people closer to Government, especially those living outside London. I also launched a call for new Sector Champions to improve accessibility of services for disabled people. 

I often meet disabled people who tell me about the challenges they face in work, using services, or simply trying to buy goods in a store or online. For retailers, this is a lost opportunity as they are missing out on £249 billion annual spend of disabled people and their families. 

I believe these initiatives will contribute to delivering our vision to create a society that works for everyone, where all can participate fully and be included, and to our progress on implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

The Network will create face to face and online forums for disabled people to share their views and experiences about policies and services that affect disabled people and will complement existing stakeholder relationships across Government. I hope local people will join our regional network. 

To bring about change, my Ministerial Retail Forum was instrumental in supporting the UK’s first ‘Purple Tuesday’ on 13 November 2018. It was funded and organised by the disability organisation Purple. Over 500 organisations signed up to take part, of which 50 were disability organisations. Hundreds of thousands of retail staff engaged in accessibility and inclusivity initiatives, supported by a range of campaign resources to help improve retail awareness of what good customer service means for disabled people. The venture was popular with the public too: it trended on Twitter and was reported by many major news and broadcast networks. 

The new Sector Champions for the countryside and heritage, product design, website accessibility, fashion, technology, food and drink will build on the work of my current 14 Sector Champions who work across diverse sectors – from music to insurance, and from arts and culture to transport.  They use their influential status as leaders to drive improvements to the accessibility and quality of services and facilities in their sector. 

Finally, I was pleased to work with Channel 4 and Purple Space, who have, together with a range of Disability Confident employers, produced a short film entitled “I don’t work properly”.  The film features disabled colleagues from a range of Disability Confident organisations talking about disability employment, along with Last Leg presenter and comedian Adam Hills. Channel 4 has created a destination www.Channel4.com/purple to accompany the film and act as an information hub for those interested in disability employment challenges. You can also view the film at: https://youtu.be/sIxNyE6IHhI