Making ex-RAF Coltishall work for North Norfolk

County Councillor John Timewell has led efforts to turn the former RAF base at Coltishall into an asset for Norfolk and a source of real local jobs. He welcomes news that the site is forecast to generate over a million pounds of income in 2015-16 for the county and to make a profit.

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Allison Bradnock welcomes investment in coastal defences

Newly elected County Councillor Allison Bradnock has welcomed the news that work has started on strengthening sea defences in the Sea Palling area.

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Norman Lamb welcomes North Norfolk beer as guest in Parliament’s Strangers’ Bar

Norman Lamb helped to celebrate a local business success in Parliament’s famous ‘Strangers’ Bar’ this week. The event was organised to celebrate 50 years of Maris Otter barley – a variety that a number of local brewers use to make craft beer.

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Norman Lamb leads debate on mental health out-of-area placements

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, led a debate yesterday (3rd December) in the House of Commons to highlight the scandal of out-of-area mental health placements.

This is the practice of shunting people around the country to receive care during a mental health crisis. It usually happens because there are no available beds in the local area, and there have been numerous reports of people being sent hundreds of miles away from home to receive the support they need.

Being sent out-of-area during a mental health crisis – far away from someone’s family and friends – can be an extremely distressing and frightening experience. Evidence also indicates that being treated out-of-area significantly increases the risk of suicide after being discharged from hospital.  

Despite this, however, there were at least 501 people in a non-specialist mental health bed more than 50km away from their homes at the end of August, according to the latest figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre. The total number of out-of-area placements is also continuing to rise, increasing by 23% to 4,447 last year (based on research by Community Care and BBC News).

Speaking in the House of Commons debate, Norman Lamb said:

“Such a practice would never be tolerated in physical health services. Let us imagine, for example, someone who had had a stroke or with a heart condition being taken by ambulance […] to Cumbria from Norfolk. It would be an outrage. It would be regarded as a scandal, so it does not happen – yet it happens every week of the year in mental health. I regard that as discrimination at the heart of our NHS and it is one of the very many examples of how people who suffer from acute mental ill health are disadvantaged by the system.”

Norman Lamb challenged the Government to commit to ending the practice completely within 12 months. The Minister for Community and Social Services, Alistair Burt, responded by pledging to “address” out-of-area mental health placements but fell short of committing to eliminate the practice entirely.

The Minister will provide details of his plan to reduce out-of-area mental health placements by the end of April 2016, after the publication of reports by NHS England’s Mental Health Taskforce and Lord Crisp’s Commission on Acute Adult Psychiatric Care.

Norman Lamb said:

“This is not a difficult issue. It should become what in the NHS is known as a ‘never event’ – it should never happen. If we know that there is a link between out-of-area placements and an increased risk of suicide, how can we tolerate it? I set the objective of ending it within 12 months. That is achievable, provided that there is drive, ambition and purpose to make it happen.”

Norman Lamb and the Liberal Democrats continue to lead the fight to achieve genuine equality for people with mental ill health. 

Norman Lamb MP: Statement on military action in Syria

Last night, it was with a heavy heart that I took the decision to vote against air strikes in Syria.

In the so-called Islamic State, or Daesh, we face the greatest threat to peace and democracy in our time. The atrocious attacks in Paris confirmed that this terrorist organisation is not constrained by any shred of mercy, humanity, or reason. Its sole barbaric aim is to perpetuate a state of chaos and fear through indiscriminate murder. It must be confronted, and it must be defeated. I am as committed as anyone to achieving this.

At the outset of yesterday’s debate in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister was absolutely right to emphasise that the question is not about whether we fight terrorism, but about how best we do that.

This week, I attended a high-level briefing for Privy Councillors on the merits of extending strike action across the border from Iraq to Syria. I have also read the key documents including the report by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and the Prime Minister's response. 

Yesterday's debate was measured and well-reasoned on both sides of the House.

I do not have the certainty on this highly complex dilemma that some people profess, and I readily admit that this was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make as a Member of Parliament. I listened closely and weighed up the evidence at length, as I believe every MP has a duty to do on matters of such profound national and international importance. The arguments in favour of military intervention were persuasive. The question was whether bombing from the air made sense. Many of you will be aware that the majority of Liberal Democrat MPs voted in support of the Government’s plans, and I respect the view taken by my colleagues.

In the end, I was not convinced by the Government’s case. With the absence of ground forces and no clear long-term plan, there are serious doubts about whether air strikes will be effective as a means of degrading Daesh. My belief is that this old-fashioned and blunt instrument is not an appropriate response to a new and sophisticated threat. The force we seek to combat is dispersed in a civilian population, clandestine, and difficult to target with air strikes.

A bombing campaign is extremely likely to lead to large numbers of civilian deaths, greater instability in the region, and fuel the radicalisation of young people in a vulnerable population. These factors tie in with the apocalyptic narrative and recruitment strategy of Daesh. Critically, I could not be confident that the kind of action proposed by the Government would make people safer at home or in Syria. 

I am not a pacifist: I firmly believe we must take decisive action to eliminate terrorism. But I concluded that this step was not the answer we need. The House reached a different conclusion, which I respect, and I fully back our military personnel who risk their lives on active service in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the battle against terrorism.

MP opens new library at Stalham Academy

Norman Lamb opened the new library at Stalham Academy today. Ably assisted by a number of students, Mr Lamb declared the new resource officially open and congratulated the staff and pupils for some truly impressive achievements in this year's World Education Games.

MP secures debate on out of area mental health placements

The House of Commons will debate out of area mental health placements thanks to action by North Norfolk Member of Parliament, Norman Lamb.

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Norman Lamb speaks out in support of junior doctors

Over the last few weeks, Norman Lamb has been speaking out in support of junior doctors regarding the ongoing dispute over the junior doctors’ contract.

The Conservative Government has recently proposed a number of changes to the pay and working practices of junior doctors, claiming that the current contract is acting as a barrier to a seven-day service in the NHS – even though there is no evidence that this is actually the case.

Junior doctors are extremely concerned that the changes proposed by the Government will disadvantage junior doctors who work regular weekend and night shifts, increase the risk of doctors being overworked, and discriminate against doctors who choose to work less than full time, including many women who choose to step back from full-time work in order to start a family. This is all happening at a time when the NHS is already suffering from staff shortages and low morale.

Norman spoke up for junior doctors during a debate in the House of Commons, criticising the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for pursuing these plans and warning that there may be a mass exodus of junior doctors from the NHS if they feel undervalued by the new contract. He added:

“I met some junior doctors yesterday and found them all to be very passionate and completely dedicated to the NHS. I found them to be not driven and motivated by pay. I have to say to the Secretary of State that junior doctors find it frankly insulting to be told that they have been misled by the British Medical Association [over the impact of the contract]. They are intelligent enough to make up their own minds, and they have done.”

You can read Norman’s entire speech here.

After the debate, Norman wrote to the Health Secretary to challenge his “pledge” that not a single doctor working up to 56 hours a week will suffer a pay in their cut. In his response, however, Jeremy Hunt refused offer any assurances for the many junior doctors who legally work beyond these hours.

You can read Norman’s letter, and the Health Secretary’s response, here.

Jeremy Hunt’s latest offer to junior doctors fell far short of addressing these concerns, and the BMA will now press ahead with balloting their members over potential strike action. Urging the Health Secretary to resolve the situation, Norman said:  

“It is essential Jeremy Hunt takes meaningful steps to address the legitimate concerns of junior doctors. I sincerely hope that strike action can be avoided, and that the Government and the BMA Junior Doctors’ Committee can negotiate a new contract which offers the best deal for junior doctors and the public.

“In the long run, I am concerned that this dispute will lead to many hardworking and talented NHS staff leaving the NHS unless the Government is able to achieve a satisfactory resolution.

“This dispute reflects wider problems of staff and resource pressures in the NHS, which the Government must do more to resolve. In the debate in the Commons, I repeated my call for a non-partisan fundamental review of NHS and social care funding, as proposed in the Liberal Democrats’ 2015 manifesto. I hope that the other parties will work with me to ensure a sustainable future for our NHS.”

Norman Lamb calls for a fairer deal for adult social care

Norman Lamb is calling on the Government to take urgent action by investing extra resources in adult social care, following new research which highlights a serious care crisis for people with disabilities.

The new research released today by Scope, the disability charity, shows that some disabled social care users are waiting up to 14 hours to go to the toilet, sleeping in their clothes, and unable to eat or wash, while many are left socially isolated and unable to work or look for a job because of a lack of support.

More than half of disabled people using social care aren’t getting the support they need to live independently, while 83% said that they don’t have enough hours in their care package.

Commenting, Norman Lamb said: “It is simply unacceptable that some of the most vulnerable people in society are being let down and left to fend for themselves due to a lack of support.

“People with disabilities deserve to live with dignity just like anybody else. This means having the right support to allow them to participate in society and live as independently as possible.

“Carers up and down the country are doing a wonderful job, working long hours and often in very difficult circumstances. But we all know that the system is under severe strain as a result of chronic underinvestment.

“Now that the Conservative Government has abandoned the cap on care costs, which I secured as Care Minister at the Department of Health, many families are also worried about how they will be able to afford the spiralling costs of care over the next few years.

“Extra funding is critical to improve support for people with disabilities, and the Government must ensure a fair deal for social care in the upcoming Spending Review. I am also calling on the Government once again to reverse its u-turn and introduce a cap on care costs from April 2016.”

The full findings, together with the stories of disabled people using social care, are available at:

Norman Lamb calls for affordable housing for older people

There is a significant shortage of appropriate and suitable homes for older people and this needs to be a priority for the government, according to North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.   

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