It has been a busy couple of weeks in Westminster, and I want to update you on the very latest work I am doing as your Member of Parliament.
The Prime Minister recently announced plans to create four new departments with immediate effect. The new offices are the Department for Business and Trade, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, a re-focused Department for Culture, Media and Sport and finally the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. The changes will ensure the right skills and teams are focussed on the Prime Minister’s five pledges: to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists and stop the boats.
During my time as Public Health Minister, perhaps the work I am most proud of is bringing forward the new National HIV Action Plan, with the clear aim of reducing new infections by 80 percent by 2025 and, crucially, ending infections and deaths from HIV by 2030. During HIV Testing Week 2023, I secured a parliamentary debate on this topic and discussed the progress that has been made in testing, diagnosis as well as treatment of HIV over the last 40 years. I also called on the Government to expand opt-out testing to all high prevalence areas across the country. If implemented, across high prevalence areas which include Derby and Nottingham, opt-out testing can certainly help us reach our 2030 target of no new HIV transmissions. You can view my debate in full here.
I have previously informed readers that the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities rejected Erewash Borough Council’s most recent bid for £20 million of funding for Ilkeston. However, towns such as Ilkeston and Cotmanhay will benefit from more than £400,000.00 of Safer Streets Funding to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour. During Home Office Questions, I asked the Secretary of State whether she agrees that the fund plays a vital role in levelling up. I am determined to make Erewash a safe and vibrant constituency for all. You can view my question here.
I also had the pleasure of launching the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Diagnostics. At the inaugural meeting, the APPG heard from Dr Katharine Halliday, President of the Royal College of Radiologists, as well as Dr Michael Osborn, President of the Royal College of Pathologists about the importance of diagnostics and the role that the APPG can play in raising awareness of this area of healthcare. The group plans to conduct a short inquiry with the aim of providing a blueprint for how Community Diagnostic Centres should operate in the longer term, including the one at Ilkeston Community Hospital. I look forward to working with colleagues from across Parliament to raise awareness of this important area of healthcare.
On a Wednesday lunchtime, MPs can usually be found in the House of Commons Chamber attending Prime Minister’s Questions. However, on 8th February, proceedings were slightly different as the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, addressed both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall. It was a historic occasion, and it was a privilege to be in the hall to witness President Zelensky’s speech. I am proud of our Government’s ongoing support for Ukraine.
When I am in Westminster, I always enjoy participating in debates on different topic areas. Before recess, I had the opportunity to participate in a parliamentary debate on an issue that is very close to my heart. In 2019, I noticed a blemish on my left arm and so I decided to get myself checked out. After a biopsy, my ‘blemish’ was diagnosed as melanoma, and I successfully underwent surgery to remove the cancer. I was one of the lucky ones and the outcome could have been very different, had I not been aware of what signs to look out for and caught the cancer early. During a parliamentary debate, I urged the Government to remove VAT from sunscreen, and in tandem run a public awareness campaign to promote the use of sunscreen. Not only could it save lives, but it could also help protect NHS budgets. You can view my contribution here.
As many readers will know, throughout my political career, I have been an avid campaigner for the protection of our Greenbelt. Although I understand that there is a need to build more houses in this country, as well as in Erewash, this should only ever come at the expense of the Greenbelt as a very last resort. During a parliamentary debate, I called on the Government to commit to pursuing a Brownfield First policy. It is clear that building on Brownfield sites plays an important role in regenerating communities across the country and I am urging the Government to do more to commit to this policy. You can view my involvement in the debate here.
Away from my contributions in the Chamber, I was pleased to attend the Terrence Higgins Trust’s (THT) parliamentary event during HIV Testing Week 2023. The THT does some brilliant work in raising awareness and prevention of HIV. Despite the significant progress made over the last 40 years, the THT estimates that there are still 4,400 undiagnosed people living with HIV in England. The Government needs to do more to find these people. I would encourage everyone to make the most of the opportunities available to test, including for the first time, purchasing an at home HIV test, where a result can be known promptly. To order yourself a test kit please click here.
Cancer Research UK also held an event for World Cancer Day 2023. In England, cancer waiting time targets have been routinely missed since 2015. It is also vitally important that at least 85 per cent of cancer patients commence treatment within 62 days of their urgent referral. Unfortunately, in Derbyshire, between July and November 2022, the figure was only 53 per cent. I was disappointed to learn of this and it is imperative it needs to improve. If you are at all concerned about any symptoms you are experiencing, I would encourage you to contact your GP.
Staying with the healthcare theme, I welcome the news that there are 43% more doctors, nurses and other patient care staff working in general practice in Erewash compared to 2019. The figures provided by the Department of Health and Social Care are very encouraging. This will certainly help Erewash residents get the right healthcare in the right place.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to remind residents to “use up or swap out” your non-barcoded definitive stamps. From 31 July 2023, regular stamps without a barcode will no longer be valid. You can either use up your non-barcoded stamps before this new deadline or swap them for the new barcoded ones. More information can be found on the Royal Mail website here.
With best wishes,
Maggie Throup MP
Member of Parliament for Erewash
P.S. My Community Office is open on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday from 9am-5pm and on a Thursday 8am-5pm. Should you have an issue I can help you with, please either phone my office on 0115 930 0521 or email me at email@example.com.
P.P.S. Your friends and family can now sign-up to receive my Westminster Despatches, by visiting www.maggiethroup.com. In addition, should you know of anyone who does not have access to a computer and would like to receive paper copies of my e-news on a regular basis, then please do let me know their details (including their full name and address).