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)

 

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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. 

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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.
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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

 

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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."
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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!

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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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Norman Lamb attends Trunchonbury Festival Launch Party

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, was making the most of the Bank Holiday Weekend this Sunday evening (28th August) as he visited Trunchonbury Festival 2017's launch party to wish organisers good luck with their preparations.

Held at MADRA (Mundesley and District Recreational Association) Sports and Social Club on Hall Lane, Knapton, the event was held to celebrate the fact that it was almost exactly a year until the start of the next festival, due to be held between 25thand 27th August 2017.

There was a bbq and bar provided for guests as live music from Ace, Al Sharpe and the Jackthehouse crew accompanied the evening's festivities with organisers and people from the local community getting together to discuss Trunchonbury 2017 and share ideas for the upcoming festival.

Speaking after the launch party Norman said: “It was great to see the enthusiasm from the organisers and locals about next year's festival; they already have massive plans in store and I am confident that this festival will be better than the ones that have come before it."

“This is the fourth time that the Trunchonbury Festival has been held and my wife Mary and I had a fantastic time when we came to the last one in 2014."

“That time it was held on the Paddock in Trunch, but it is great to see that this festival has continued to grow and now needs to move to a bigger area to put on everything they want."

“They can now entertain a greater number of festival goers, providing a memorable experience for many local people, and raise even more money for good causes than they managed to do before."

“I am certainly excited to see how Trunchonbury 2017 progresses as the last one was so enjoyable and I have already started looking in my diary to make sure I am free.”

Trunchonbury Festival started back in 2005 with modest beginnings when just a handful of friends enjoyed camping and dancing in a private garden, but has since grown with each new edition. For next year's event the festival has been moved to a much larger 20 acre site, MADRA on Hall Lane, in Knapton Village, and will be able to host more stalls, more camping, more facilities and more music and entertainment acts than ever before.

The expanded size of Trunchonbury next year means that organisers believe they will be able to cater for five thousand people a day and can raise more money for their chosen charities, which will be Mundesley Inshore Lifeboat, Knapton Hall and MADRA Sports Ground.

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Norfolk psychosis patients failed by NHS, Norman Lamb reveals

Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem MP for North Norfolk, has exposed serious failings in the implementation of a flagship new policy to improve care for people with severe mental illness in Norfolk.

As Health Minister in the coalition government, Norman Lamb introduced new standards for Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) to guarantee that patients experiencing a first episode of psychosis should receive an specialist package of treatment within 2 weeks of being referred. This was an important step towards achieving equality for mental health, which was due to be rolled out to at least 50 per cent of patients by April 2016.

However, a Freedom of Information audit by Mr. Lamb shows that CCGs have only commissioned Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to provide an EIP service for people aged 14-35 this year, despite the new standard applying to people up to the age of 65. None of the CCGs in Norfolk were able to specify how much overall funding has been allocated for EIP in 2016/17, sparking concerns over a lack of robust commissioning of the service within the county.

There is also “limited provision” of the key skills needed to provide the full range of treatment which meets the national standard, including cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis, family interventions to support families and reduce rates of relapse, and specialist employment support which has been shown to improve recovery and reduce long-term costs to the NHS and welfare system. The Trust said it was “not possible to say when or if” it will be able to provide a service in line with NICE guidelines this year, even for the restricted cohort of patients who are offered EIP, and that further investment is required.

CCGs said that they hoped to extend EIP to an all-age service by March 2017 with an in-year amendment to the current contract – a whole year after the new standards came into effect.                      

The findings reflect a bleak national picture regarding the implementation of the new standards. Among the key findings of the Liberal Democrats’ national audit were:

  • A lack of robust commissioning of EIP, with many CCGs leaving it to trusts to deliver EIP within a block contract for mental health services;
  • Despite official guidance saying that the standard should apply to everyone from 14-65, almost a quarter of CCGs (23%) had only commissioned services for people up to the age of 35, while the same proportion of health trusts were only providing EIP for this age group;
  • A third of the CCGs (32%) who responded could not identify how much funding has been allocated to EIP in 2016/17;
  • Out of those CCGs and Mental Health Trusts who provided an estimate of their average investment per patient in EIP, this figure was £5,199 for CCGs and £5,085 for Mental Health Trusts. According to NHS England, the estimated annual cost of treatment in a fully-compliant EIP team is approximately £8,250 for each patient. This indicates that people are being let down with less than the full package of care; and
  • There is evidence of a widespread lack of training and skills mix to provide the full range of treatment which meets the national standard.

These findings come weeks after Theresa May acknowledged on her first day as Prime Minister that there is currently not enough support for people suffering from mental ill-health.  The Liberal Democrats are now seeking to hold Mrs. May to account to ensure that this rhetoric is translated into action, and that equality for mental health is at the heart of her Government’s priorities. Ensuring new standards to improve care are properly implemented is a vital step towards this. 

Commenting on these findings, Norman Lamb said:

“The half-hearted implementation of this standard in Norfolk and in many other parts of the country is nothing short of scandalous, and highlights the historic inequality between the way in which physical and mental ill health are treated in our NHS.

“It would rightly be seen as a national scandal if the NHS failed to provide the evidence-based treatment required in cancer, so why is it acceptable for people suffering psychosis? The negligent approach to delivering the new standards in mental health should be met with similar outrage.

“The variation around the country is extremely disappointing, but it also shows that failure is not inevitable. These new standards would change people’s lives and lead to significant savings for the NHS and benefits system. We know that for every £1 invested you can save £15 – yet in so many areas, they are falling short. It would be horrific and intolerable if this opportunity was missed.

“Genuine equality for mental health can only be achieved if the new standards for mental health are given the same level of political importance and public scrutiny as those in physical health. It is critical that NHS England and the Government learn the lessons of this flawed implementation, to ensure that other proposed treatment standards in mental health do not fail.”

 

Notes

 -              The annual cost of psychosis to society is estimated at £11.8bn due to healthcare costs, lost productivity due to unemployment or death, and the impact on families and carers. In the UK, only 8% of people with schizophrenia are in work, while people with severe and prolonged mental illness are at risk of dying on average 15 to 20 years earlier than other people.

-            There is strong evidence that the early provision of evidence-based specialist treatment has a significant impact on recovery, long-term quality of life, and the overall cost of care. EIP services significantly reduce the rate of relapse, mortality, and hospital admissions, while improving employment, education and wellbeing.  An analysis has shown that £15 is saved in the long-term for every £1 spent on early intervention (attributed to the reduction in use of crisis and inpatient services, and improved employment outcomes).  

-              A full Early Intervention in Psychosis service, delivered in accordance with NICE guidelines, will include psychological therapy; physical health assessments and wellbeing support (including support for healthy lifestyles and smoking cessation); employment, education and training support; and support, information and advice for families and carers. It involves an integrated team of psychiatrists, psychologists, education and employment specialists, and care co-ordinators who will typically be nurses, occupational therapists or social workers.

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