Tory abandonment of cap on care costs is a betrayal of older people

Norman Lamb has accused the Conservatives of “betrayal” for abandoning a pledge to introduce a cap on care costs, meaning many older people in North Norfolk will end up paying thousands of pounds more for their care.

As minister in the Coalition Government, Norman introduced a cap on care costs to protect older people against catastrophic costs experienced when someone ends up with a condition like dementia.  

Within weeks of winning the election in 2015, the Conservatives announced that they were postponing the introduction of the cap, despite committing to it in their manifesto.  While Norman said at the time that this amounted to an abandonment, the Government insisted that the cap would be implemented in 2020.

Today, the 2017 Conservative Manifesto confirms that the cap has been abandoned.

Renowned economist Andrew Dilnot, who chaired the long-term care commission that originally proposed the cap, said that the Conservatives’ plan to make homeowners pay more for their care will leave “many people worse off” and “completely on their own” to deal with care costs.

Norman Lamb, who pushed through the Care Act (2014) which included Dilnot’s proposed reforms to the care system, commented:

"This is an outrageous betrayal of people who work hard all their lives, end up with a condition like dementia and will now be saddled with catastrophic costs to pay for their care. 

“All those with care needs in North Norfolk now face losing most of what they’ve worked for.

"The Conservatives claimed they had merely delayed the cap on care costs, now they have abandoned it. It is completely shameful.

“We could have made such a difference to people’s lives, allowing them to plan for old age with the knowledge that the cap on care costs would have protected them. Now, it is gone for good. That’s what happens with the Conservatives without any opposition or without controls over power.

“If re-elected to Parliament, I will continue to fight for a cap on care costs of £70,000 to protect older people from seeing everything they’ve worked hard for disappear.”  

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Lib Dems pledge extra £1bn for mental health care

The Liberal Democrats are committed to ending the historic injustice against people with mental ill health.

Two out of every three Britons say they've experienced mental health problems, but too many don't get the help they need. That is why I am proud to announce that the Liberal Democrats are pledging an extra £1bn to ensure everyone has access to effective treatment and support. 

This will help us to address our 12 key priorities for supporting people with mental ill health, learning disabilities and autism. We will introduce comprehensive access and waiting time standards for mental health care in the NHS. We will end the scandal of people with mental ill health being shunted across the country because there is no support available close to home. We will tackle the growing crisis in children and young people's mental health by helping schools to promote good mental wellbeing. And we will prioritise national action to dramatically reduce the number of suicides. 

All of these priorities build on our record of action - both in government and in opposition. 

Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have a clear plan for delivering better mental health services. We’ve made it clear that our priorities will be funded from our ambitious plan to inject £6bn a year into the NHS and care with an additional penny on income tax.

You can read our full plan here. It's time to end the historic injustice faced by people with mental ill health, learning disabilities and autism. 

Read more about our plans in The Mirror and The Independent

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Norman Lamb pledges £45m boost for Norfolk schools

Norman Lamb has announced that the Liberal Democrats would invest £45m more in schools and colleges in Norfolk over the next Parliament.

This funding would reverse cuts to school and college budgets imposed by the Conservative Government, protect per pupil funding in real terms, and ensure that no school loses out from changes to funding arrangements.

More than £5m would be spent locally on the Pupil Premium, which the Liberal Democrats introduced in government to help the most disadvantaged children.

The funding is part of the Liberal Democrats’ national commitment to spend an extra £7bn on schools and colleges.  It comes after a report by the National Audit Office found that school budgets will be slashed by £3bn in real terms by 2019-20 under current government plans – the equivalent to reducing spending by 8 per cent per pupil.

Norman Lamb recently conducted a survey of North Norfolk schools on their current funding situation, which found that many schools have serious concerns about the impact of the Tory Government's changes to school funding. Many schools said that they will be forced to cut teaching staff and increase class sizes to cope with cuts to their budgets. 

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat candidate for North Norfolk, said:

“Under the Conservatives, funding per pupil is set to see the biggest cuts in a generation.  Children in Norfolk are being taught in overcrowded classes by overworked teachers - and this situation looks set to get worse.

“My recent survey has shown that many schools in North Norfolk have serious concerns about the impact of the Tory Government’s changes to their funding.  Several schools are being forced to make teachers and support staff redundant, and potentially increase class sizes which would have a damaging impact on children’s education. How can we possibly justify this?

"That is why I am announcing an extra £45m of funding for Norfolk, which would ensure that no school and no child loses out. We will reverse the damaging Conservative cuts to school and college budgets, and invest to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed."

“A landslide for the Conservatives would allow Theresa May to cut our schools to the bone.  If I am re-elected to Parliament, I will continue to provide the strong voice that Norfolk’s schools need.”

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Norfolk's school exclusion scandal must end

Norman Lamb spoke in Parliament today about his concerns over the soaring number of children who are being permanently excluded from schools in Norfolk.  After raising the issue at Education Questions, the Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, Edward Timpson, agreed to meet with Norman to discuss potential solutions to the problem. 

Norfolk has one of the highest rates of permanent exclusions in the country, and the highest in the East of England.  The number of pupils receiving a permanent exclusion has risen dramatically in recent years, with 296 pupils excluded in 2015/16 compared to just 170 in 2013/14.

A lengthy waiting list for places at the Short Stay School for Norfolk (SSSfN) has left children stuck at home for weeks, sometimes months, before they are able to get back to their education.  As of 14th March, there were 96 children on the SSSfN waiting list, with children having to rely on inadequate alternatives such as e-courses in the meantime.  While some excluded children are able to receive home tutoring, availability is limited and provision is often restricted to a couple of hours per week.

At Education Questions in the House of Commons, Norman challenged the Government on the adequacy of support for excluded children and asked the Education Minister what message he would send to Norfolk County Council to fix the unacceptable situation.

In response, Edward Timpson acknowledged that outcomes for excluded children in receipt of alternative education provision are “not good enough” and that exclusion "should always be a last resort.”  He offered to discuss the matter with Norman during a forthcoming meeting.  

Here are Norman's questions - and the full responses from the Minister:  

Norman Lamb: What assessment has the Minister made of the adequacy of support provided to children excluded from school?

Edward Timpson: There are duties to ensure that children excluded from school have education in place; and although there are some excellent examples of alternative provision across the country, overall outcomes for children remaining in AP are not good enough. That is why our ambition to make schools responsible for commissioning AP and remaining accountable for the outcomes of those pupils, including circumstances where a pupil has been excluded, are so important

Norman Lamb: Does the Minister share my horror at the dramatic rise in the number of permanent exclusions in Norfolk – 296 in the last academic year, with 100 students at the last count waiting for a place at the short stay school?  Given the awful outcomes for children who are permanently excluded, what message does he send to Norfolk to sort out this unacceptable situation?

Edward Timpson: Exclusion should always be a last resort and we need to make sure there are no inappropriate exclusions, either in Norfolk or anywhere in the country. I am meeting the honourable gentleman on another matter, and perhaps that is something we can discuss further in relation to this particular problem. 

 

Commenting after raising the issue at Education Questions, Norman said:

“The dramatic rise in the number of excluded children in Norfolk is incredibly worrying, and I welcomed the Minister’s statement that exclusion should only ever be used as a last resort.  Regrettably, however, this too often appears not to be the case in Norfolk.

“It is a failure of the system which is letting down some of our most vulnerable young people, particularly those with social, emotional or mental health needs.  Students who display challenging behaviour should be given extra support, but instead they are frequently excluded by schools who don’t have the means or the know-how.

“Excluded children too often end up with wasted life chances, poor mental health, poor educational attainment and worklessness – and it costs the state a fortune.  We have to do better. The Council must get on top of this scandalous situation and guarantee that every child gets the high-quality education they deserve.”

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Spring Budget 'inadequate for social care and disastrous for the NHS'

The Chancellor’s Spring Budget is “inadequate for social care and disastrous for the NHS”, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said in the House of Commons today.

During a debate on the implications of the Budget for local communities, Mr Lamb said that the extra £1bn announced for social care next year falls far short of what is required to meet the needs of the care system and the people who rely on it. 

According to the charity Age UK, more than a million older people now have unmet care needs because of cuts to the funding of social care in recent years.  The Health Foundation has estimated that the funding gap in social care will be £2bn next year alone, but Philip Hammond yesterday confirmed that £2bn of extra funding will be stretched over three years - with very little extra cash for the NHS.

This is disastrous for elderly and disabled people who rely on social care, Norman Lamb said, after the Care Quality Commission recently confirmed that the care system is close to tipping point.

He pointed out that despite a £325 million boost for capital spending in the NHS, fewer than 10 areas will benefit from this and healthcare spending is still projected to fall as a proportion of national income between now and 2020.  

At the end of his speech, Norman Lamb challenged the Tory Government once again to work with other parties to come up with a long-term funding settlement for the NHS and Social Care, including the possibility of a dedicated Health and Care Tax.

"The NHS and the care system were designed in the 1940s, when the needs of this country were wholly different from today. There is an overwhelming need for the whole approach to be refreshed."

You can read Norman's full speech here.

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Social care funding in Budget gives sticking plasters a bad name

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, has criticised Chancellor Philip Hammond's response to the NHS and Social Care crisis in his Spring Budget. 

Today, the Chancellor announced an extra £2 billion for social care over the next three years. However, independent think tanks and charities including the highly-respected Health Foundation, The King's Fund, and the Nuffield Trust have concluded that the struggling care sector faces a funding shortfall of £2bn next year alone, when only £1bn additional funding will be made available. 

An extra £325m of capital funding has also been released to invest in service capacity and put more family doctors into A&E departments. But this is only a fraction of the £1.2bn cuts to capital spending this year, as the Department of Health slashed capital spending to plug gaps in Trusts' running costs.  

The Liberal Democrats had called for £4 billion of extra NHS and care funding for 2017-18, including £2bn for social care, £1.5bn to improve efficiency in the NHS and £500m dedicated funding for mental health. 

Commenting on the Budget, Norman Lamb said: 

"This announcement gives sticking plasters a bad name. It is a woefully inadequate response to the impossible pressure the NHS and care services are under.

"There will be a £2bn black hole in social care funding next year alone, yet the Government plans to stretch this amount across three years. This will mean more elderly people going without the care they need, more pressure on A&E, and more people stuck in hospital beds due to a lack of care in the community. 

"The Government has refused to give the NHS the extra funding it needs. The percentage of our national income spent on the NHS is still set to fall which makes no sense at a time of rising demand."

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Learning disabilities & autism care ‘shameful’

Norman Lamb MP is demanding urgent action to reduce the number of people with learning disabilities and autism stuck in big institutions, following serious concerns highlighted in last night’s Channel 4 Dispatches documentary about the care given to people with these conditions.

‘Under Lock and Key’, which aired on Channel 4 last night (Weds 1st March at 10pm), revealed that thousands of people with severe learning disabilities and autism are still stuck in hospitals, despite promises to reduce the number of people in these settings. Experts have long called for people with these conditions to receive support from local, personalised care providers in the community, rather than big impersonal institutions which reduce independence and harm recovery.

The programme also discovered serious concerns about the care in one of Britain’s largest mental health centres, St Andrew’s in Northampton, including heavy use of face-down restraint, seclusion, and anti-psychotic medication in both adults and children.

Fauzia Yasmin Hussain, who has autism and Tourette’s, was admitted to St Andrew’s at the age of 15.  She was kept mostly in seclusion, in a room with very little natural daylight, and was given high doses of anti-psychotic drugs including intramuscular injection.  After her family raised concerns about her care with Norman Lamb, who was then Care Minister, he visited St Andrew’s and was appalled at how she was being treated. 

He said in the documentary: “I went to St Andrew’s and saw Fauzia in her room, which in effect was a cell.  A 15-year-old girl was being treated in effect like a prisoner. It was one of the most shocking things that I’ve seen in my time in parliament.  Just as a human being I was horrified.”

Mr Lamb initiated a review of her care, which ultimately led to her being discharged in September 2014 after almost two years in the institution.  She now receives high-quality care at Alderwood Care Home in Colchester, coming home to visit her family once a month. Her condition and quality of life has improved dramatically. 

Norman Lamb has now written to the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, to request a meeting to discuss care for people with learning disabilities and autism, along with Fauzia’s aunt, Dr Shahana Hussain, and Dulwich MP Helen Hayes, who also appeared in the programme.

Commenting, Norman Lamb said:

“It is shameful that there are still so many children, young people and adults with learning disabilities and autism who are stuck in institutions and treated as second class citizens.

“Submitting young people to face-down restraint, seclusion and sedation is unacceptable and has no place in our NHS.  In my view, it is a significant abuse of human rights. I struggle to think of anything less therapeutic or more detrimental to good care and recovery. 

“I was absolutely horrified by what I witnessed when I visited St Andrews.  Fauzia was a young, vulnerable girl who was in care funded by the state and was being badly let down. She was being robbed of her dignity and independence.  Fortunately I was in a position to initiate a review which led to her discharge but there are too many people who are treated in this way. 

“We set a new ambition to reduce the number of people stuck in institutional settings by providing better support in the community. We also published a Green Paper before the election proposing new legal rights for people to challenge decisions about their care and to have more control over the resources available for their care. But progress has been far too slow and the Government has not legislated to give people these rights. I have asked for a meeting with Simon Stevens to discuss how we can end this scandalous situation.”

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Norman Lamb swears to take on mental illness

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Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat former health minister, has pledged to take on the unacceptable lack of progress in tackling young people’s mental ill health.

He joined MPs from all parties in swearing to tackle mental illness at an event in Parliament last week, sponsored by the mental health research charity MQ.

New figures from MQ show that four in 10 (42%) people in the UK have come to believe that mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are now an inevitable part of life, such is the lack of understanding and action around mental health.

84% say that not enough is being done to tackle mental illness for the future, and more than two-thirds of parents (68%) believe that having more education about mental illnesses could prevent suffering for future generations.

Three children in an average class are affected by a diagnosable mental illness.  However, many wait for a decade between experiencing their first symptoms and getting help, and only a quarter of young people referred to services receive appropriate care.

Overall only £8 is spent on research per person affected on mental health in the UK, which is 22 times less than per person for cancer (£178) and 14 times less than dementia spend (£110).  And despite 75% of mental illness starting before the age of 18, less than 30% of the total mental health research spend is focused on children and young people. As a result, the majority of mental healthcare resources are not designed or developed for young people, leading to poor treatment outcomes in young people and hindering prevention efforts.

Norman Lamb said:

“Mental illness should not be seen as an inevitable part of life.  The current state of mental health treatment would simply never be accepted for a physical condition.

“MQ’s ‘We Swear’ campaign aims to make it clear that radical change is needed right now, and asks the public to show they ‘give a s**t’ by swearing to take on mental illness.

“Through research we can get to grips with this growing crisis in young people’s mental health – and build progress towards much-needed hope for everyone affected.” 

 

Swear to take on mental health. Search #WeSwear on social media or visit www.mqmentalhealth.org/we-swear for further information as to how you can help.

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North Norfolk flood wardens celebrated in Parliament

Norman Lamb has tabled a motion in Parliament to celebrate the work of Flood Wardens on the North Norfolk coast.

Community flood wardens are volunteers who monitor tide levels and weather conditions for potential risk of flooding.  They play a crucial role in ensuring that local residents are aware of flood warnings and, when evacuations are necessary, support vulnerable people to reach a place of safety and provide assistance at evacuation centres.

During the extreme weather conditions in January, flood wardens were out working with North Norfolk District Council officers in areas at high risk of flooding such as Bacton, Walcott, and Wells-next-the-Sea.

Commenting after tabling the motion, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: 

“Flood wardens are some of the unsung heroes of our county.

“We often hear of the excellent work of the emergency services and the army during flood warnings, and rightly so, but much less is said about the vital role of flood wardens.

“I tabled this motion in Parliament to place on record our gratitude to those who selflessly give up their own time, often in the most horrendous weather conditions, to protect the local community and keep people safe during floods.”

 

EARLY DAY MOTION 962: FLOOD WARDENS  

That this House recognises the important work done by flood wardens in protecting their local communities from flooding; notes that these wardens are local volunteers who turn out, day and night, in often the most appalling weather conditions; further recognises that residents of small coastal towns and villages, in places such as Bacton, Walcott and Wells-next-the-Sea on the North Norfolk Coast, rely almost exclusively on flood wardens to ensure that residents are aware of flood warnings, provide vital advice and information during floods, identify and assist vulnerable residents to seek a place of safety, advise local authorities on whether an evacuation is necessary and provide assistance and facilities at evacuation centres; regrets that this often goes unnoticed in the national media; and celebrates the essential work of flood wardens in the communities they serve.

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Ambulance service must tackle bullying and harassment

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, has urged the leadership of the East of England Ambulance Service to act on the findings of an independent review into bullying, harassment and discrimination at the Trust. 

The review was commissioned by UNISON and was conducted by the Andrea Adams Consultancy, which specialises in issues of workplace bullying and harassment. 

Some of the key findings were:

  • There are significant delays in dealing with staff grievances and complaints;
  • Concerns are mainly ignored, dismissed or are dealt with in an unnecessarily protracted way;
  • A ‘Speak Out’ culture is not promoted, and there is a fear of retaliatory action if an individual raises concerns;
  • Investigation processes are not secure and cannot be relied upon to robustly test allegations made;
  • The Trust appears to tolerate a bullying culture and managers adopt, in the main, a bullish approach to people management;
  • There is a strong perception that many issues that should be dealt with are swept under the carpet;
  • The Trust is not perceived to be a listening and learning organisation and this presents high levels of risk to patient and staff safety.

The full report can be read here.

Commenting, Norman Lamb said:

“This independent review found worrying evidence of a bullying culture at the trust, with a lack of robust processes to deal with allegations of bullying and harassment.

“Ambulance staff must have the confidence to speak out against bad practice without fearing for their careers.  It is unacceptable to allow such concerns to be dismissed, swept under the carpet, or met with retribution.

“Failure to eliminate wrongdoing not only has a damaging impact on the wellbeing of staff, but it ultimately puts patients at risk.

“The leadership at the trust must respond positively to the findings of the report and take immediate steps to act on its recommendations.”

Fraer Stevenson, UNISON Branch Secretary for the East of England Ambulance Branch, said:

“It’s vital that staff at every level feel able to speak out freely without fear of retaliation. It’s clear from the report that hundreds of our staff do not feel able to do that.

“We have some very good managers in our Trust and their voices need to be heard and empowered. Some of the poor behaviours we continue to see appears to go unchallenged and this must change.

“It’s important the Trust Board hear the concerns of their staff from across the Trust, support the recommendations in this report and commit to genuine change. This change needs to be modelled through their own behaviours and will require strong leadership.”

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