On Friday 13th December, Richard Fuller MP will be hosting two events on energy.
From 1pm-4pm there will be a FREE drop-in advice session on energy issues at the Bunyan Meeting, Mill Street, Bedford.
Following that, there will be a Q&A session with the boss of one of the UK’s largest energy companies.
E.ON Chief Executive, Tony Cocker will be available to answer your questions at a public meeting from 5:30pm till 6:30pm at the Addison Centre, Kempston. Register now for your ticket!
Click here for more info.
On Tuesday, Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford and Kempston, introduced a Bill to Parliament to require taxis to install CCTV.
The latest in a three year campaign by the MP, the Bill aims to ensure safety for drivers and passengers by requiring taxis to have secure, encrypted CCTV installed.
In his speech to introduce the Bill, Richard spoke of his concern over the number of assaults and attacks that occur in taxis. He also recalled the terrible murder of local taxi driver, Mehar Dhariwal, which he said had spurred him to take action.
Commenting afterwards, Richard said “It is time to stop treating taxi drivers like second class citizens. Workers in other forms of public transport are protected by CCTV and it is time this protection was extended to taxi drivers and their passengers.”
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt today announced his Department’s plans for winter and the allocation of £250million to NHS England, including an allocation of £3.7million to Bedford Hospital NHS Trust.
The funding is targeted at accident and emergency departments to help them deal with seasonal pressures during the winter months.
Local MP, Richard Fuller, who raised concerns last week about the impact of winter following the closure of Riverbank ward, said he was very pleased with the announcement. Richard urged the local Hospital team to use it effectively and, in particular, to ensure its staff are vaccinated against flu.
Richard, who met Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt on Monday to discuss progress with returning paediatric services to Bedford, commented “Winter months will be tough ones for hospitals, but given recent difficulties at Bedford Hospital, this funding will be a “shot in the arm” for the A&E team.”
On the face of it, the Inspection Report by the Care Quality Commission on Bedford Hospital published on August 29th makes strong criticisms of our local hospital. I wanted to read the details to see the extent of the failings and the causes of them.
The Hospital passed one of the nine standards evaluated, had minor or moderate concerns on five standards and major concerns on three standards. Major concerns related to staffing, supporting workers and assessing and monitoring the quality of service. I was particularly concerned about the criticisms about care for the elderly and for those with dementia.
The CQC’s concerns were quite widespread across the activities of the hospital, and in some areas these concerns were significant. However, there were also positive comments to balance these concerns, and recognition by the CQC that the Hospital did provide good quality care in many cases.
The most frequent criticisms related to issues that should have been addressed by the people in charge of the Hospital’s human resources department: inconsistencies in training, lack of succession planning for replacing consultants, ineffective rosters of staff, staff shortages.
Following so quickly on the problems in providing adequate supervision in the paediatric ward, these further criticisms should focus Hospital management attention on sharpening up its human resources performance. These are manageable problems, but the Hospital has to manage them, not hope they will solve themselves. I will write to the Chair of the Hospital to ask what actions are being taken and will raise this point at the Hospital AGM next week.
The House of Commons debate on Syria and the use of chemical weapons should have been about healing some of the damage done to the level of trust on these issues between our people and our government by the Iraq War. Indeed, I believe that was the part of the intent behind the Prime Minister’s decision to recall Parliament.
In the end, rather than rebuilding trust, the result has been to question that trust further and to create an unsustainable basis for future decision making on military action by the United Kingdom. More pressingly, the next time that Mr Assad decides to use chemical weapons on women and children, the United Kingdom will, effectively, sit on our hands and do nothing.
Is that really the outcome we wanted? How did we end up in this situation?
Many people in Bedford and Kempston, like many other people across the United Kingdom are weary of British military involvement in foreign conflicts. They see the expense – in terms of lives lost and money spent and, though never doubting the bravery of our armed services, they doubt the wisdom of our involvement. Even more seriously, a sense of deceit over the justification for the Iraq War has left people deeply sceptical of much of the substance of any decision about military engagement: the quality and veracity of intelligence; the intentions of our allies; and the assessment of our top military commanders about the consequences of any “initial” action.
Such scepticism, in the circumstances of recent history, is understandable and even laudable to an extent. However, it does not provide a secure basis, or a better alternative, for decision making on issues of conflict than properly managed executive leadership. Why?
Bedford Hospital has recently announced that it is making changes to the provision of some paediatric services at Bedford Hospital. This is as a result of failings of clinical oversight of junior doctors in the paediatrics department. Like many local residents, I am very concerned about the impact of the changes on families in Bedford and Kempston and I am working with Alistair Burt MP and Nadine Dorries MP to help find a solution.
Full details of the changes that have been made to paediatrics are available here.
The Hospital will continue to provide a minor injuries service for children in A&E, children’s outpatient clinics, the Day Unit, and nurse-led care for children with chronic or long-term conditions. Maternity services and neonatal services are unaffected and continue to run as normal.
Patient safety must come first and the decisions that have been made have been taken on that basis by clinicians, including the Hospital, NHS England, the NHS Trust Development Authority, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the East of England Ambulance Trust.
Last week, I spent two hours at the Hospital visiting Riverbank ward and talking with nurses, patients, doctors and parents. We have a first class team locally and we can be proud of their commitment in these difficult times.
Alistair Burt and I have called for an independent inquiry and this has now been agreed. In this era of transparency in the NHS I believe it is important that the public know why concerns with clinical supervision of junior doctors in this department persisted for so long, what remedies had been attempted, and why these fell short of a satisfactory solution. I hope the Hospital will be open to including a trusted member of the Bedford community – not connected to the Hospital – as part of the inquiry.
I am maintaining contact with the Chief Executive of the Hospital and with the head of the Clinical Commissioning Group as I will want, as I know that you will, to ensure that the Hospital takes all steps to resolve this unsatisfactory situation and to restore full paediatric services to Bedford.
At an emergency meeting of the local Health and Wellbeing Board on Thursday 18th July, Bedford and Kempston MP Richard Fuller raised his concerns about paediatric services at Bedford Hospital. His questions are reproduced below:
“My question is in three parts – how we got in to this situation, remedies for the impact on families now; and how we can recover our paediatric services.
“It is hard to convey the anxiety, frustration and anger that constituents have conveyed to me, to Alistair Burt and to Nadine Dorries. The failings in clinical oversight of the junior paediatric doctors at Bedford Hospital, going back it seems to 2005, will exact a heavy toll on families. It is all the more galling that the consequences of these failings seem to have been entirely avoidable. Will the Board support a full inquiry that will review all the evidence back to 2005 and will you ensure there is strong, independent local representation?
“I have been contacted by many constituents since this announcement by Bedford hospital. A major concern raised by constituents about what to do now, is about the additional transport costs they may incur due to this failure at the hospital. Will the Board look urgently at ways to provide, even on a temporary basis, financial subsidy to cover the additional transport costs for these families? Perhaps a Fund can be set up for us all to contribute to as caring members of society?
“Finally, the plan to return paediatric services to Bedford Hospital. Please can the Board ensure that the Hospital finds a modern, sustainable solution so that the services are robust enough not to be subject to the shortcomings that have resulted in this mess?”
Bedford and Kempston MP, Richard Fuller, is working hard to create employment opportunities for young people in the local community.
On 11th July, Richard teamed up with local Work Programme providers to put on an ‘Employment Opportunity Day’ for young jobseekers at the Bedford Corn Exchange.
The event was the very first of a new type of jobs event where young jobseekers are ‘speed-interviewed’ by local employers. Over two hundred and fifty young people aged under 24 had the opportunity to impress over sixty local employers into offering them a position.
Commenting at the event Richard said, “Many young people looking for work send out hundreds of applications and never get the chance for an interview, so we are turning that around and giving them a series of ‘speed interviews’ to help them really connect with potential employers and prove their value.”
“The feedback we’ve had about the event from both jobseekers and employers has been very positive, with over 70 offers of employment opportunities made.”
Recent data released by Public Health England shows that Bedford Borough is performing below the national average for premature mortality. Bedford and Kempston MP, Richard Fuller, has called on members of the local health and wellbeing board to seek improvements.
Bedford Borough ranked 77th out of 150 local authority areas and was classified as “worse than average”. With 279 premature deaths per 100,000 population, Bedford Borough came below neighbouring areas such as Milton Keynes (265) and Northamptonshire (272) but ahead of Luton (306 premature deaths per 100,000 population).
Richard Fuller said: “This information is a reminder of the need for us to focus on improved preventative healthcare, and I hope our health and wellbeing board will look closely to see what improvements can be made.”
Local MP, Richard Fuller, paid tribute to the service of Bedfordshire Police’s outgoing Chief Constable, Alf Hitchcock, in Parliament on Monday.
Richard took the opportunity to congratulate the Chief Constable on his record as leader of Bedfordshire Police, noting that “Crime rates are down and detection rates are up.”
The MP’s congratulations were echoed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who also praised all the police staff who work in Bedfordshire on the impact of their work in ensuring that crime has gone down.
You can watch the exchange here.