I'm a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, which
will be holding hearings throughout the summer to learn lessons from the
Government's response so far to the virus, and make recommendations so that
the UK is better prepared in the event of a likely second wave.
In the first session, we heard from medical professionals like the BMA, and
the head of the NHS Confederation. There was a very high level of concern
about a second wave this winter, but plenty of advice about what needed to
be done to avoid the worst of it. It was also worrying to hear Niall
Dickson of the NHS Confederation say there was a real problem retaining
staff in both health and social care with significant numbers
understandably feeling completely exhausted, and some wanting to leave
their roles. There were reports on the session in iNews  and the
In the second session, there were some powerful and heartrending stories
from people who were suffering long-term effects from the virus, known as
Long Covid. The impacts are shocking: previously fit people now using
wheelchairs, others being told they might never work again - and people of
all ages affected. None felt they were getting the support they needed, and
some were under pressure to return to work when they are still very unwell.
We hope to make some strong recommendations on this to ministers.
SELF-EMPLOYED AND CORONAVIRUS
I joined other MPs in a (virtual) meeting of the parliamentary group for
Excluded UK, which is campaigning for government support for the over
3-million self-employed who have fallen through the gaps in the
Government's self-employed income support scheme (SEISS). People's lives
and livelihoods are being wrecked by their unjust and unfair exclusion from
the scheme, and the campaign to support them - which includes more than 200
MPs - will continue until the Government listens and acts.
CORONAVIRUS TESTING IN CARE HOMES
Despite the Government promising that all care homes would get testing kits
for Covid in early July, with staff to be tested weekly and residents every
4-weeks, I learned late last month that only two of Brighton and Hove's
many care homes had received the required test kits. I raised this with the
Prime Minister in a scheduled telephone call last week - he said he would
look into it (both the Argus  and Brighton & Hove News  carried
reports on this). The following day, the Government abandoned its pledge
and said care homes for older people and those with dementia would not get
testing until September - it was clearly a national problem, not just one
that affected Brighton and Hove.
There are numerous failings in the Government's response to Covid, but the
shambles over testing has been one of the worst, and is clearly putting
lives at risk. It really is completely unacceptable.
CORONAVIRUS AND PPE SUPPLIES
The supply of personal protective equipment to frontline staff in the NHS
and care homes has been an on-going scandal from the start of this crisis.
The UK has spent far more than any other European country acquiring PPE,
with 73% of contracts being awarded without going out to tender - some of
them to companies with no experience of providing medical supplies. There
are far too many cases where the PPE has either not turned up, or is not
fit for purpose. I have written to the health minister with a long list of
companies who either have no track record in this industry, or have failed
to deliver the ordered supplies. You can read the letter on my website .
CORONAVIRUS IMPACTS ON THE COMMUNITY
Covid continues to have a huge impact in my constituency, from the economic
fallout to the pressures caused by lockdown. In recent weeks, I've been
contacted by a number of families who are struggling to get the mental
health support they need for their children. I've been raising concerns
about pressures on our mental health services for some time, but some
families are now at breaking point. A shortage of psychiatric intensive
care unit beds nationally is making it difficult for them to access
specialist support they need, and delays with child and adolescent mental
health services (CAMHS) are having an impact on young people's mental
health. I am in contact with local providers about service pressures and
following up with ministers about the situation in the city.
I mentioned in my last newsletter that I'm working on an exciting
initiative in my role as co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on a
Green New Deal. We are developing policies for a fairer, greener future,
involving members of the public every step of the way to ensure plans for a
Green Recovery have widespread public backing. I've been taking part in
online evidence sessions and this weekend 150 people will be taking part in
workshops, examining in detail some of the ideas and proposals which have
been put forward so far. We'll be presenting our report to Parliament in
the early autumn.
There's more information about Reset on the website [link removed]
On the first weekend in August, Brighton is usually a riot of colour and
joy for Brighton Pride. It had to go online this year because of Covid, but
there was still a fantastic online event, We Are Fabuloso, which raised
thousands of pounds for the Rainbow Fund which supports so many brilliant
community groups in the city.
GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS ON PLANNING
This week, the housing minister unveiled plans to tear up our planning laws
- a move which will do nothing to provide the affordable and social housing
we so desperately need, and poses a real threat to previous green space and
nature. The Government has launched a consultation process on its plans,
which have already been condemned by housing organisations, architects, the
Town and Country Planning Association and local councils which will lose
their voice in planning. I wrote about my concerns in my column in Metro
August 6th marked 75 years since an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima -
a day we must never forget and pledge never again to inflict such mass
destruction. I wrote  a column for Left Foot Forward saying the UK
should mark the anniversary by scrapping Trident and signing the Treaty on
the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
JOIN MY TEAM
Last, but not least, I'm hiring! I'm looking for an admin manager to join
my small, dedicated, hardworking team in London, managing policy
correspondence with constituents, diary invitations and triaging a very
busy parliamentary inbox. The details are here  - please spread the
If you are a local resident and need help with case work or to find out more about my activities locally please do contact me at the office of: Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Media Centre 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL.
Tel: 01273 201 130. Email: [email protected]
I hold regular surgeries across the constituency. If you would like to book an appointment at a forthcoming surgery please call Liz Collis on 01273 201130.
She coordinates my constituency office and is able to help with most local enquiries.
If you would like to know about my parliamentary work please get in touch at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Tel: 020 7219 7025. Email: [email protected]
You can also keep up to date with my news on:
My Website: www.carolinelucas.com
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