NHS 75th ANNIVERSARY AND NHS WORKFORCE PLAN
As we celebrated 75 years of the National Health Service this week with gratitude to our healthcare workers for their dedication and skill, the Government finally published its long-waited workforce plan. I have called for this since my election and was pleased to see it has finally arrived. We cannot fix the underlying capacity problems in the NHS without ensuring we are training an adequate work force.
I was, however, disappointed that the workforce plan does not address the crisis in mental health care with a significant and immediate increase in training places. The workforce plan promises to increase the number of training places for clinical psychologists by 26% by 2031. However, of the additional 275 places a year they are promising, only 18 are to be created by 2028 - a rise of less than 2% across the next five years. Access to mental health care, especially for children and young people, is woefully inadequate right now, both across the country and here in Richmond Park. Struggling children need help now, not five to ten years from now. I have been fighting to shine a light on this since I was elected andI will press the Government to recognise and address the ongoing crisis when this workforce plan comes to the Commons as legislation.
If you want to do something personal to celebrate the dedication and success of our NHS over the past 75 years, constituents might like to consider donating blood or plasma. NHS Blood and Transplant is currently building up a new supply of plasma to create medicines and reduce the reliance on imports. Plasma medicines save and transform the lives of thousands of people every year and the demand for plasma is growing. Find out more about registering to donate plasma at your local donation centre in Twickenham
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE REPORT ON UK HEALTH SECURITY AGENCY This week, as part of the Public Accounts Committee, I spoke to various media outlets regarding our recent report into the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) set up to replace Public Health England during the pandemic. Crucially, it found that £3.3bn of NHS Test and Trace inventory transferred to UKHSA cannot be properly accounted for, and although we know it was used, we cannot guarantee it was used for its intended purposes. The report also found that no contingency plans have been put in place to stockpile resources in case of a future pandemic and further, that the Department for Health and Social Care still has inadequate controls over its existing stock of personal protective equipment (PPE). As such, we made several recommendations to combat wasteful public spending and to strengthen our future pandemic prevention plans. You can see the PAC recommendations here or see me speak to LBC about the PAC report here.
HONG KONGER PRO-DEMOCRACY ACTIVISTS TARGETED
Earlier this week, the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities issued arrest warrants for eight high profile pro-democracy activists living in other countries. Alongside these warrants, a bounty of $1 million HKD (£100,000) each has been placed on their heads. This action is a terrifying display of Beijing's willingness to go to any lengths to quash democratic sentiment in Hong Kong and sets a worrying precedent that the regime will target individuals who have fled to the sanctuary of other countries.
Richmond Park is home to an estimated 5000 Hong Kongers, many of whom have recently arrived under the new BNO visa scheme after the end of Hong Kong's period of quasi-independent rule. I know how worrying this news has been for the community, and so this week, I wrote to the Foreign Secretary asking that he provide reassurance to political asylum seekers that the UK Government will protect and support any individuals targeted by the regime.
HEATHROW NOISE ACTION PLAN
Heathrow's consultation on it's new noise action plan will close on July 17th. This plan is intended to guide the actions Heathrow takes to limit the impact noise has on the local community and lay out the Airport's targets over the next four years.
While I believe that Heathrow has made some limited steps towards supporting the community, their plan is ultimately flawed. From the half measures put in place to limit the impact of night flights on the constituency, to their extremely limited sound insulation plan. While I acknowledge that something is better than nothing, this plan does not go far enough.
However, the crucial flaw in this proposal is that it makes no mention of the huge changes to flight paths that will be taking place over the coming years. Heathrow is currently embarking on a program of airspace modernisation which will be brought in around 2027 and will render much, if not all, of their current data obsolete.
To this end, Munira Wilson MP and I will be writing to Heathrow highlighting our concerns and I would urge you to offer your own response to Heathrow using the link here.
CLEAVES ALMSHOUSES VISIT
Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Cleaves Almshouse in Kingston. Built-in 1669, these properties have been providing high-quality accommodation for older and less fortunate Kingston residents for nearly 400 years.
During the visit, I was interested to learn about their positive efforts to build ties with other almshouses across London, but also sorry to discover the increasing difficulties they have been facing housing an ageing population.
Cleaves Almshouses are a great community asset and a fascinating part of our local history. I hope that they go from strength to strength over the coming years.
FAITH DAY AT CHRISTS SCHOOL On Tuesday morning, I had the pleasure to attend the Faith Direct Day held at Christ’s School in Richmond, where several schools from across the Borough came together to experience and learn about different faiths and religions from local community leaders. It was fantastic to see all of the students have the chance to learn something about all the different faiths and beliefs we have in our community and I want to thank Cllr Penny Frost for her hard work in organising the event, Christ’s School for hosting, and everyone who attended for helping make the day such a success.
COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: ST PAUL'S SCHOOL CONVERSATION MENTORING
During my recent visit to Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College, I met with a group of English language students who told me that the biggest problem they face when developing their language skills has been a lack of opportunities to practice. With this in mind, I was extremely impressed to learn that some of the students from St Pauls School have been giving up their evenings to spend time speaking with new Ukrainian arrivals.
I would like to thank both the students and organising teachers who have made this initiative possible and have given up their time to support refugees as they create a new life in the UK.
FUSE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
The FUSE International Festival curated and presented by charity Creative Youth continues this weekend. FUSE International provides a platform for young people to share and celebrate their creative talent. A host of talented artists from across the UK and around the world have come together in Kingston this month to showcase their work. Check out their digital festival brochure for the full details of the remaining shows this weekend.
KINGSTON DOG DAY
Kingston's Ancient Market Place will host the town's first Dog Day tomorrow Saturday 8th July from 10am onwards. Residents are invited to bring your canine companion with you to enjoy this special market featuring independent pet companies selling treats, toys and accessories for dogs (and their owners). Plus, as part of Kingston's Dog Day, some local retailers and experiences are running events and offering promotions exclusively to dog owners. For more information about this event and to book for a photo or sketch visit the Four Legged Foodies website.
If you can't make it to Kingston on July 8th, check out this Insider Guide for inspiration about pet-friendly cafes and restaurants to dine with your dog in Kingston.
WHITTAKER AVENUE WEEKENDS FROM BE RICHMOND
BeRichmond has planned four weekends of fun at Whittaker Avenue in July. From enjoying the taste of Wimbledon, and taking time out for some relaxing well-being, to super cool surfing, or a perfect picnic there’s something for everyone to look forward to. Make a racquet on the 8th-9th of July to mark the start of Wimbledon. Activities include VR tennis, themed photo-ops, a selection of tasty treats and a giant lounge to sit back and watch the fun and games.
Take some well-earned time out with a Wellbeing Weekend on 15th-16th July, with guided meditation sessions, Be Well Walks in partnership with SoulHub and a chill out area.
Surf’s up on 22nd-23rd July. See if you can catch a wave on the surf simulator, visit the beach shack, plus seaside-themed face painting for surfer dudes and ice creams to help you chill out.
Bring your favourite teddy bears to a special Teddy Bears’ Picnic weekend on 29th-30th July with guest appearances and walkabouts with Marmalade the Bear. Bring your own food and drink or grab something locally and pick your favourite picnic spot.
CHARITY CONCERT TO BENEFIT HOMELESS
Regina Gossel a musician resident in Richmond, is organising an Insieme Concert on Sunday 9th July at 2pm at Holy Trinity Church, along with an international group of esteemed musicians, in aid of the homeless in Rome. Their belief is that we should all contribute whatever talents we have in order to help one another. They will present a very special concert of arias and songs to raise money on behalf of the Community Sant’Egidio in Rome for the homeless there. More details and concert booking here.
BCA BARNES FAIR
This year’s Barnes Fair will take place on 8 July 2023, from 9.30am-5.30pm on Barnes Green. A portion of proceeds from this year’s event will go towards the purchase of a new defibrillator at the Castelnau Centre in North Barnes so that these life-saving devices will be available through the community. We will be collecting donations at the BCA stalls at Barnes Fair.
The fair will also feature a carefully selected group of around 300 exhibitors offering fashion, jewellery, gifts and homeware for browsing plus food and drink stalls from some of Barnes’ favourite bars and restaurants including The Crossing, Rick Stein, The Nest and Postbox. Live music on the Bandstand starts at 10am and comes from several local bands and choirs and a selection of dance and karate displays on the Events stage will be performed by SW13-based groups, plus there will be a wandering band of ukulele players!
Younger visitors may also like to explore the police car and fire engine that will be parked up on the Green and there will be a classic 1965 Mustang on display for car enthusiasts alongside fair favourites the carousel, helter skelter and vintage swings.