As I write this, I find myself wondering where the Summer went? The six weeks while Parliament is closed, otherwise known as recess, has flown by. Being away from Westminster gives me significantly more time to talk to people in South Cambridgeshire and this Summer, I took the opportunity to spend time with some of our healthcare providers. Conscious of the pressures on our NHS, I wanted to understand first hand how we are coping with workload locally.
The day I spent shadowing GPs at Comberton surgery highlighted to me the challenges facing the profession. The working day for a GP is very long, with limited time available for each patient, but the work they do in keeping patients away from hospitals is absolutely critical. One of the key issues facing junior doctors thinking of a career as a GP is the high cost of indemnity insurance, something which is covered for them if they work instead in a hospital. As such, I have written to the Minister to see what we can do to change this situation. We are in dire need of more GPs, so this additional burden is unhelpful. I also wanted to see how morale was amongst the wider junior doctor community, so I joined all the trainees at Addenbrooke’s at one of their team meetings. Our health service in South Cambridgeshire has been lucky to attract such a diverse and thoughtful group of individuals who care passionately about safeguarding our wonderful NHS. Although my powers as a backbencher are limited and I have no influence over decisions made about their new contract, the least I can do is listen.
Locally, our County Council and Mental Health Trust is working together to provide innovative solutions to support people in crisis. My visit to the newly opened ‘Sanctuary’ in Cambridge highlighted the importance of providing mental health patients with a ‘third space’, accessible during times of crisis. The centre was welcoming, calm and staffed by an exceptionally dedicated team who are determined to improve our local mental health provision. I saw a similar ethos at the Women’s Refuge Centre in Cambridge and was impressed by the absolutely vital work they are doing for women and children in distress. These two centres provide support for the most vulnerable in our society and deserve our unwavering support.
Disability rights also featured highly on my to do list as I made a visit to the new PIP centre in Cambourne to undertake a ‘mock’ PIP assessment. This local branch makes a stressful process much easier by saving over an hour’s journey time for those requiring assessment. Until recently, disabled claimants of this benefit (Personal Independence Payment) had to travel to Thetford so I am pleased the provider listened to the needs of my constituents and agreed to open a local centre.
I have also worked with colleagues from the Papworth Trust, Anglia Ruskin University, the DWP and Daniel Zeichner (Cambridge City MP) to run a Reverse Jobs Fair in September. We invited local employers to a free networking event to showcase the value of employing disabled people. Dozens of businesses came along and saw how employing disabled staff could bring real value to their organisations whilst also delivering the jobs and independence that disabled workers deserve. Next challenge is to get some concrete job offers – watch this space!
Our job fair coincided with the end of the 2016 Paralympics, with South Cambs resident Clare Cunningham competing in the Paratriathlon. Already a gold medal Paralympian swimmer I’m sure you’ll join me in cheering her on, admiring her determination and dedication to this second sport.
Determination and the belief that two heads are better than one was very much in evidence as local resident Alison Kitching and I negotiated with Stagecoach for reduced rates for sixth formers. I’m delighted we managed to secure a better deal in time for September and hope other operators will consider following suit.
As always, please do get in touch with any issues and you’re welcome come to my “no appointment needed” drop in surgeries. The next dates are Saturday 8th October and 19 November.
You can find full details on my website www.heidisouthcambs.co.uk/residents-drop-surgeries or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at 01954 212707.