Changes to lockdown rules, Scottish questions unanswered, backing Gower farmers & more. Weekly update - 11/09/2020
This week, Caerphilly has become the first county in Wales to face local lockdown following a spike in Covid-19 cases. No one will be allowed to leave the county without good reason, family and friends living apart will no longer be able to meet indoors, stay overnight, or form extended households, and everyone over the age of 11 must wear a face covering in shops. Vaughan Gething, the Welsh Health Secretary, said that the spike was largely due to a breakdown in social distancing and people not following the guidelines. Although we are opening up the economy and life is looking a little more normal with schools and shops open, the news from Caerphilly is a reminder that the pandemic is not over. We must continue to protect ourselves, others, and the NHS by washing our hands frequently, wearing a face covering where we can, and following the social distancing guidelines.
I was pleased to be able to speak during the Health Secretary’s statement in Parliament this week and ask him why he hasn’t replied to my letter from 4 months ago requesting a national cancer recovery plan. Of course, I recognise the extreme strain that the coronavirus crisis has put both on the NHS and the Department for Health and Social Care, however, cancer did not go away during this pandemic. There were still people living with a diagnosis or waiting to be diagnosed without knowing when cancer services would resume normal service. Experts have warned that delays to cancer diagnosis and treatment could result in anywhere between 7,000 and 35,000 additional deaths in the UK as a result of the coronavirus. The NHS have been heroes during this crisis, but the UK Government must now put the funding and resources into cancer services to support the NHS prevent a wave of avoidable deaths from cancer in these exceptional times.
I had hoped to be called to speak in Scottish questions on Wednesday, but unfortunately, the session finished before I was able to speak. Our high streets, across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, will only be able to recover when consumers feel safe and comfortable using them. As Keir Starmer, and numerous other MPs, pointed to examples of constituents who have struggled to get a test for the virus and have been asked to travel across the country to a centre for tests, how can we feel that the UK Government have a handle on this crisis? Keir Starmer’s constituent from London was told that at one point the nearest centre for a test was in Swansea. I can assure the Prime Minister from my weekly commute to Westminster, Swansea is far outside the 10 miles that he said the average distance to a test is! How are the Welsh and Scottish Governments meant to protect people in Wales and Scotland if the UK Government are sending people from hotspots in England into Wales and Scotland to access tests? The UK Government are failing to provide even an adequate test and trace operation, let alone a world-beating one. This must change immediately.
It was Emergency Services Day or #999Day on Wednesday, a day for us to thank all the incredible men and women of our emergency services and to remember those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. These last 6 months have shown us just how important these men and women are to all of us and how much we truly appreciate them and the work that they do. This day is for the emergency responders, not only in the police, ambulance, and fire services, but also the volunteers of the special constables, retained firefighters, the NHS community responders, St John Ambulance, RNLI, search and rescue and coastguard volunteers. All of them work to preserve life and put their safety on the line for others. We will not forget the incredible efforts of our emergency services during the pandemic and we thank you all.
This week we also marked Back British Farming Day. This year is particularly important with our exit from the EU and the UK Government putting British farming at risk with an irresponsible approach to our Agriculture Bill. We all want to see British farming and food standards maintained, regardless of whether we voted to leave or remain in the referendum. No one wants to see poorer food standards and dangerous chemicals entering our food chain and cheap, risky imports undercutting our British farmers. Our farmers play a crucial role in feeding the nation and in safeguarding the beautiful British countryside that we in Gower especially are lucky to be surrounded by.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. If you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01792 899025. My office is not open, my staff and I are working from home, but my email and phone are still being monitored and responded to. You may experience a slight delay in receiving a response from us as the demand has increase, but we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Keep well and remember – and remember - observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!