Lamb: New tobacco plan must tackle link with mental illness

Norman Lamb has today (13th October) highlighted the need to tackle high smoking rates for people suffering with mental health conditions, and called on the Government to make this a priority in the new Tobacco Control Plan.

At a Westminster Hall Debate on tobacco control, Mr Lamb, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health, reaffirmed the health risks associated with tobacco products. Smoking remains the largest cause of preventable illnesses and deaths in the country and it is estimated that around 96,000 people die in the UK from smoking-related diseases each year.

Smoking is responsible for half of the difference in life expectancy between the lowest and highest income groups.  In today’s debate, however, Mr. Lamb was keen to draw specific attention to another social inequality: the impact of smoking on people with mental illness.  People suffering from severe mental illness die on average 10-20 years earlier than the general population, with smoking identified as a major cause of this gap in life expectancy.

The UK has made significant progress in reducing smoking prevalence, including through Liberal Democrat Coalition successes on plain packaging for cigarettes and the ban on smoking in cars with children on board.  However, smoking rates among people with mental health conditions have remained stubbornly high over the last 20 years, at a time when rates have been steadily declining across the general population.

Mr. Lamb called for the new Tobacco Control Plan to directly address the failures of public health strategies to reduce smoking among people with mental ill health, and to set ambitious targets for reducing smoking among this group.  In particular, he encouraged the Government to focus on training mental health professionals so that they understand the importance of smoking cessation for recovery and see this as part of their core role.

Mr. Lamb also highlighted the importance of pursuing the objective of smoke-free inpatient mental health settings - a strategy that he initiated as a Minister.  Smoking breaks are normalised as part of the daily routine in many psychiatric wards, using up valuable staff time and stifling efforts to encourage people not to smoke. Recently, however, a number of mental health trusts have made progress towards delivering care in completely smoke-free grounds with access to high-quality on-site stop smoking services, having a beneficial effect on the physical and mental health of patients, reducing aggressive behaviour, and freeing up staff time to focus on therapeutic activities.

In other areas, Mr Lamb:

  • Challenged the Government to do more to recognise and promote the massive potential benefits of electronic cigarettes as an alternative to smoking tobacco, and to review the impact of the European Tobacco Products Directive which takes an excessively tough approach to the promotion of these products;
  • Stressed the UK’s world leading role in tobacco control, and the need for the new tobacco plan to set out details on how the Government will use the Overseas Development Assistance Fund that has been established for combating smoking in developing countries; and 
  • Highlighted the importance of public health funding to ensure that local authorities can continue to provide high-quality stop smoking services in the community. He reinforced the Health Select Committee’s conclusion that the Government is finding extra money for front-line NHS services by cutting funding for public health and staff training, and called on the Government to review this counter-productive approach. 

You can read Norman's speech in full here


Norfolk Vanguard Offshore Wind Farm Project

I would like to bring to your attention the plans that are currently underway to develop one of the UKs largest offshore wind farms off the North Norfolk Coastline. The proposed Norfolk Vanguard Offshore wind farm will be situated 47Km off the Norfolk coast, and has the potential to provide power for more than 1.3 million homes.

Currently there is a significant amount of research, discussion and preparation that needs to take place, providing many opportunities for the public to get involved and influence the project.

Drop in sessions will be taking place to provide an opportunity to meet with the project team and discuss the proposal. At these sessions you will be able to learn more about the current plans, share your views on the key issues and help shape the planned wind farm proposal. 

Dates and Times of drop in sessions taking place across North Norfolk:

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For more information, please see the Norfolk Vanguard website: http://eastanglia.technocreative.se/article/about-project


Norman Lamb calls for PFI payback for Norfolk & Norwich

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, has urged the Government to approach the Octagon Healthcare consortium to consider sharing some its PFI profits with the troubled Norfolk and Norwich Hospital (N&N).

Last year, Octagon reported record profits of £5 million (after tax and dividend payments to shareholders) while the N&N suffered a record deficit of £21 million.  This is despite the fact that the hospital continues to pay tens of millions of pounds to the consortium each year under the terms of its PFI contract, with repayments totalling £42.5 million in 2015/16.

Mr. Lamb raised concerns over the financial implications of the deal at Health Questions in the House of Commons this morning, highlighting a 2005 report by the National Audit Office which concluded that the PFI deal to build and maintain the hospital is costing a premium for the taxpayer and the NHS.

In the Commons, he challenged the Minister to make a formal approach to Octagon Healthcare “to consider foregoing part of its profit to help confront the enormous financial black hole that this trust faces”.  It comes a week after Mr. Lamb wrote to the General Manager of the consortium to make the case for a voluntary concession on the PFI repayments owed by the hospital, in light of the stark differences in the organisations’ financial fortunes.  

In response, Health Minister Philip Dunne pointed to the Government’s £1.5bn bailout fund to support hospital trusts struggling with debts caused by PFI contracts, but acknowledged that the Norfolk and Norwich is not among the seven trusts currently benefiting from the fund.  He offered a meeting to discuss the proposal further, which Mr. Lamb intends to take up.

Commenting afterwards, Norman Lamb said:

“It seems impossible to justify the excessive profits made by Octagon at a time when the Norfolk and Norfolk is falling deeper into the red. Health services in Norfolk are already buckling under the pressure of rising demand and a severe shortage of funding which the Government has so far failed to address.

“Patient care is being directly affected by this outrageous PFI deal, which should never have been given the green light in the first place, as millions of pounds that is desperately needed for bolstering frontline services is instead going into the pockets of shareholders.

“The Government’s PFI bailout scheme is recognition of the major flaws in these contracts, which represent dreadful value for money and are simply not sustainable for many hospitals already facing extreme financial pressure.

“I hope that the Government will take swift action to negotiate a sharing of Octagon’s profits or a voluntary concession on the payments owed to it, to ease the burden on the hospital and ultimately free up resources so that patients can receive the care and treatment they need.”

 

The full exchange in the House of Commons is as follows: 

Norman Lamb MP: The National Audit Office concluded that the PFI contract for the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital was a bad deal for the taxpayer and for the NHS, yet last year Octagon Healthcare made a record profit as the Norfolk and Norwich finances sunk ever further into the red. Would the Minister consider making a formal approach to Octagon Healthcare to consider foregoing part of its profit to help confront the enormous financial black hole that this trust faces?

Health Minister, Philip Dunne MP: We have provided access for seven of the worst affected trusts with obligations under PFI to some £1.5bn of a support fund to help them with these obligations. I’m not sure off the top of my head whether Norfolk is one of these – I suspect it is not. I’d be very happy to talk to him about this, but I think what I have to say to the Honourable Gentleman rather than raising his hopes inappropriately is that many of these schemes are too costly to divert resources to pay off in their absolute. 

 

Sources:

Eastern Daily Press - Revealed: How shareholders of PFI firm are making millions from cash-strapped Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (26th September 2016) 

BBC News - High price for PFI deal concerns (10th June 2005)

National Audit Office - The Refinancing of the Norfolk and Norwich PFI Hospital: How the deal can be viewed in the light of the refinancing (June 2005)

 


Norman Lamb calls for Mental Health First Aid in the workplace

Norman Lamb MP is calling on the government to commit to equality for mental health in the workplace by amending health and safety legislation to require all employers to provide Mental Health First Aid.

Mr. Lamb has made the call in a Parliamentary Motion to coincide with World Mental Health Day 2016 (Monday 10th October), which this year focuses on the importance of ‘psychological and mental health first aid for all’.  The campaign has been launched in collaboration with MHFA England, a leading provider of mental health first aid training across the country, with the support of the mental health charity Mind. 

Currently, the main legislation which relates to first aid provision in the workplace focuses on physical illnesses and injuries and is silent on the mental wellbeing of employees. Mr. Lamb’s Early Day Motion marks the first step in a new campaign urging the Government to address this lacuna in the law, and update guidance for employers to ensure that they are clear about their obligation to support workers’ mental health.

Having staff trained in Mental Health First Aid can help to prevent someone’s condition deteriorating when they are experiencing a mental health problem, by providing initial support until professional help is received.

Last week, a major new survey by Business in the Community, in collaboration with MHFA England, found that employers across the UK are failing to provide adequate support for employees or equip managers with the skills to help them.

More than three quarters (77%) of employees have experienced poor mental health and nearly two thirds (62%) have identified work as a contributing factor, the Mental Health at Work report found. Despite this, over half of employees (56%) who disclosed symptoms of poor mental health said that their employer took no actions to address this and only 1 in 5 managers (22%) had received appropriate mental health training. 

WHSmith and Unilever have now pledged to lead the way in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of employees, while also calling on other employers to bring parity to mental and physical health in the workplace by adopting Mental Health First Aid. WHSmith has committed to training 1,100 line managers in Mental Health First Aid over the next 12 months, in a bid to ensure that the company has as many mental health first aiders as it does physical first aiders.

Mental Health First Aid training provides people with the skills to recognise the symptoms of common mental health problems, provide initial support to prevent the problem from getting worse, and effectively guide a person towards the right support services. To date, almost 150,000 people in England are trained in Mental Health First Aid.

 

Norman Lamb MP, who recently became a trained Mental Health First Aider and has written to the Work and Pensions Secretary to request a meeting to discuss a possible change to the law, said:

“The bias towards physical health in first aid legislation is a clear example of the discrimination against mental health in society, which cannot possibly be justified at a time when more and more people are reporting that they have struggled with mental health problems at work.

“If mental health is to be treated in exactly the same way as physical health, every organisation should have trained Mental Health First Aiders just like they have physical first aiders – and I am in no doubt that this important principle should be enshrined in law.

“On a personal level, my eye-opening experience of Mental Health First Aid training was not only incredibly helpful but also emotionally powerful. Most of all, it brought home the absolute importance of listening to people’s concerns, giving them time to express themselves and making sure they understand that there’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

“If we can stop people’s condition deteriorating and guide them to help, we can have a big impact on their lives. Sickness absence and unemployment related to mental illness is an enormous burden on the economy, so the economic as well as the moral case for all employers to adopt Mental Health First Aid is overwhelming.

“I am very pleased to highlight this important issue in Parliament on World Mental Health Day, particularly given this year’s theme of ‘psychological and mental first aid for all’.  The Government should act without delay to amend first aid legislation to include mental health, and make it clear that employers’ responsibilities in the workplace relate to the mental as well as the physical wellbeing of staff.”

 

Poppy Jaman, CEO and co-founder of Mental Health First Aid says:

“Our workplaces need to undergo a transformation. Mental health issues (stress, depression or anxiety) account for almost 70 million days off sick per year, the most of any health condition. Millions of employees feel unsupported and employers must act now to retain top talent and boost productivity.

“We will only make headway when employers value mental health as they do physical health. Mental Health First Aid is a key part of the solution which is why, on World Mental Health Day, we are calling on the government to amend current legislation that requires employers to train staff in physical first aid, to include mental health first aid.”

 

EDM: Mental Health First Aid

That this House notes with concern that the current first aid legislation fails to make adequate provision for mental ill health; notes that the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 neglect the mental health of employees, and that the examples of health problems requiring first aid in the Health and Safety Executive’s Guidance on the Regulations relate exclusively to physical health; acknowledges that the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 refer to the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities, but that this does not address mental health issues caused by factors outside of work but which may nevertheless affect health and wellbeing in the workplace; recognises that only 43 percent of people with mental health problems are in employment, compared to 74 percent of the general population and 65 percent of people with other health conditions, with the cost of mental illness to the economy estimated at around £105 billion annually; believes that addressing mental health more effectively in the workplace, in order to help people recover and avoid people falling out of work, must be a key public policy objective; and therefore urges the Government to commit to the principle of equality for mental health in the workplace by amending first aid regulations and guidance to require every organisation to have trained Mental Health First Aiders, and ensure that employers are aware that their first aid obligations relate both to physical and mental health issues. 


Norman Lamb and Parkinson’s UK call for research collaborations to continue after EU vote

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North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has joined up with the charity Parkinson’s UK’s to ensure that vital research collaborations and funding for studies into Parkinson’s continue following the decision to leave the European Union.

Parkinson's is a degenerative neurological condition, for which there is currently no cure. It affects 127,000 people in the UK – roughly one in 500 of the population. Although researchers have made significant progress into understanding the condition better, there are currently no treatments which help stop, slow or reverse the symptoms.

Parkinson’s UK, as one of the 133 members of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), is urging all MPs to work after the Brexit vote to ensure the UK remains a vibrant centre for research.

The charity is highlighting the importance of continued access to EU research funding streams; maintaining ease of travel for patients and the ability for technicians to work across the EU; and ensuring that the EU and UK regulatory frameworks are compatible and aligned.

After meeting Parkinson’s UK at the recent Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton, Norman Lamb MP said:

“For decades the UK and EU have worked collaboratively to fund and provide valuable research into conditions such as Parkinson’s, and it would be a disaster if future collaboration is put in jeopardy by Brexit. The UK has a long and proud history in the sciences, and it’s important that we continue to be an attractive country for researchers and technicians to conduct vital research which could improve the lives and health of thousands of people. ”

Policy and campaigns programme manager at Parkinson’s UK, Laura Cockram, said;

“It’s encouraging to see Norman Lamb MP is supporting the need for collaboration and co-operation between the UK and the EU following the referendum and upcoming negotiations. Finding new treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s is crucial in helping improving the lives of people living with Parkinson’s and ultimately finding a cure for this devastating condition.”

 

About Parkinson’s UK

  • Every hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson's.
  • It affects 127,000 people in the UK - which is around one in 500 of the population.
  • Parkinson's is a degenerative neurological condition, for which there currently is no cure. The main symptoms of the condition are tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity.
  • Parkinson's UK is the UK's leading charity supporting those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.
  • For advice, information and support, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk or call the free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303.

Patchwork Foundation Delegates at The Liberal Democrat Party Conference

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Whilst partaking in the 2016 Liberal Democrat Party Conference, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb took the time to meet with several young delegates from the Patchwork Foundation. 

The Patchwork Foundation aims to promote and encourage the positive integration of underrepresented, deprived and minority communities into British political society, ensuring that politics is made accessible for everyone.

Each year the Patchwork Foundation takes a select number of delegates to the Liberal Democrat Conference. The delegates get the opportunity to have a tour of conference, attend a master class from a senior official and attend the Leader's speech, with the aim of getting young people involved in the conference and to provide them with a better understanding of party politics.

During the Delegates visit to this years Brighton based conference, Norman Lamb took the time to meet with the delegates and show his support for Patchworks important mission to get young people involved with politics

 


Sheringham Woodfields School Playground Project

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On Friday the 9th of September, 2016, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb was proud to open the newly renovated playground at Sheringham Woodfields School, along with the schools Chair of Governors Carole Fields. 

 

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Norman Lamb Chosen To Run Again At Next Election

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North Norfolk Member of Parliament Norman Lamb has been backed to run again at the next General Election.

The Liberal Democrat MP has represented North Norfolk since 2001. At the election last year he finished more than 4,000 votes ahead of the Conservatives. He served as a minister in the coalition government and won a national reputation for his work to promote better mental health care.

A packed meeting of Liberal Democrat members backed him unanimously to be their local candidate at the next election. Mr Lamb told the meeting in Aylmerton that there was a greater need than ever for moderate, common sense voices to be heard in Parliament and politics.

"Jeremy Corbyn is dragging the Labour Party to the far left but it is really dangerous to have one party in power which is completely dominant. There is a massive risk of arrogance and complacency on the part of the Conservative Government. Those of us who care about delivering high quality, affordable public services and making sure that everyone's voice is heard need to work together to provide a common sense alternative." said Mr Lamb.

"It has been an unbelievable privilege to represent North Norfolk people in Parliament since 2001. It's a great honour to be chosen as Liberal Democrat candidate again. But in uncertain times I know local people need a strong and experienced voice in Parliament more than ever. I have just completed my annual 'village tour' of street corner advice surgeries and this year saw a record turn-out of people. They raised a huge range of issues with me from poor quality roads to our creaking health and care services,  worries about the challenges we face following Brexit and much more. 

"I am looking forward to continuing my work for North Norfolk and on vital issues like finding a sustainable future for the health and care services we all rely on."

HSBC Closure Blow

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HSBC should rethink its plan to close its branch in North Walsham according to local MP Norman Lamb.

HSBC has announced it plans to close the branch at the end of November. Losing the bank from such an important site in the Market Place could be a real blow to traders and customers in the town.

“I want HSBC chiefs in London to explain themselves and to think again. We need to keep our high streets alive!” says Mr Lamb.

Are you affected by the closure? Get in touch!


Job Vacancy: Senior Caseworker

Job Title: Senior Caseworker

Working For: Norman Lamb MP (North Norfolk)

Location: Constituency office, North Walsham

Salary: In line with IPSA pay scales

 

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