Working for the future of Bedford & Kempston

Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017. 

Health


Club Towers was officially opened this week by Richard Fuller and the former British tennis player and 1997 Sports Personality of the Year, Greg Rusedski. The club has been open for use for a year now and prides itself on providing a state of the art gym, group exercise classes, swimming, spa, tennis and squash facilities with focus on a family friendly and social environment.

Speaking to an audience of club members and supporters, Greg said how impressive the facilities are and how much he had enjoyed playing on the indoor courts all afternoon with members of all ages. He also emphasised how important it is that clubs like this exist for whole families to enjoy together, as well as being a health club for individuals.

Richard followed by sharing his memory of a very early conversation in 2012 with owner Matthew Towers when Matthew talked through his vision of the club and wanted to discuss how to make that a reality.

Matthew finished by adding his thanks to Richard for his encouragement and the direction it gave and everyone involved since in progressing that vision forward, not least his committed staff and ever supportive wife, Ann.

Richard Fuller is urging local people to get their flu jab and find out more about how they can stay well this winter.

Richard said, “It’s really important that if you are a pensioner, or suffer from a long term condition, or have children between 2 and 7 that you find out about to stay well this winter. And if you have older relatives or elderly neighbours, remember to keep an eye out for them too.”

The Stay Well This Winter campaign being run by Public Health England and NHS England aims to raise awareness of the vulnerability of the elderly and those with long-term health conditions at winter among family, friends and carers. Advice includes:

  • If you suffer from a long term health condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an umbrella term used to describe a number of conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis; diabetes; heart or kidney disease; are aged 65 or over; or are pregnant, get the free flu vaccine now
  • If you’re a parent of a child aged 2 -7, ensure your child is vaccinated against flu. Children aged 2, 3 and 4 can get the vaccination from their GP. Parents of children in school years 1, 2 and 3 are asked to give permission for their child to receive the free nasal spray vaccination at school
  • Seek immediate advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of winter illnesses, before it gets too serious
  • Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), if you can
  • Keep an eye out for elderly relatives and neighbours

For further advice about how you and your family can stay well this winter, please visit the website.

Richard Fuller MP has welcomed government plans to stop requiring people with the most severe, lifelong conditions to be re-assessed for out-of-work benefits.

On Thursday, Richard spoke at FLAG Bedford – a social group for disabled adults in the Bedford area – and called for changes to be made to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) reassessments and two days later, the government announced its change in policy.

Over the weekend, the government announced that it will work with medical professionals, its health assessment provider and others to develop criteria to stop re-assessments for people with the most severe health conditions. People with illnesses such as severe Huntingdon’s, severe autism or a congenital heart condition will be among those who might qualify to continue to receive ESA automatically.

The Government went further by saying that it would also explore how it might simplify and improve the assessment process to support people with health conditions and disabilities.

Richard commented: “This is a very welcome announcement. In my time as an MP, I have come across chronically ill constituents with conditions that will not improve and for whom re-assessment has caused unnecessary anxiety and stress. I am very glad that Theresa May is setting a new direction.”

This week, Richard added his support to a campaign aimed at tackling the taboo that can be associated with mental health.

Ben Salmons launched the Break the Stigma initiative last year to raise awareness and tackle common misconceptions surrounding mental health. He is now employed by the East London NHS Foundation Trust so he can continue his work across Bedfordshire.

Richard said:
“I had a thought provoking meeting with Ben about his campaign to be open and Break the Stigma regarding mental health. He is a great young man thoroughly committed to this important cause and I was happy to provide a personal message about the importance of talking about mental health.”

Richard’s Break the Stigma message read, ‘If we broke an arm or a leg we would ‘talk’ about it, so let’s ‘talk’ about our metal health – put it in the conversation.’

Visit the campaign’s facebook page for more information.

This week, Richard raised the ongoing concerns about Bedford Hospital’s future with the Prime Minister.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Richard sought assurances that the NHS’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Bedfordshire would be ‘subject to proper local accountability and full local decision authority’.

In her response, the Prime Minister said: “It is absolutely the point of these plans that they are locally driven.”

“They will be considered locally and should be taking into account the concerns and interests locally, not just those of the clinical commissioning groups, but those of the local authorities and of the public. These plans must be driven from the locality, so I give my hon. Friend that assurance.”

Richard also heavily criticised the Beds and MK Healthcare Review as an ‘abject failure that lost all credibility with local people’. In June, the Review published recommendations for significant changes to services, such as plans to close maternity services at Bedford Hospital, and then refused to answer any questions.

Richard has continued to campaign for the multi-million pound Healthcare Review into a merger between Bedford and Milton Keynes Hospitals to be scrapped. He has also called for the STP to include Bedford Borough Council’s cross-party alternative report, which outlines a number of ways in which social care and hospital services could be integrated to save money and ensure that Bedford Hospital can continue to provide as many local services as possible.

Richard attended a British Red Cross event in Westminster on Tuesday where new research revealed that up to 59% of ‘pre-hospital’ deaths from injury could potentially be prevented if more people stepped in with some simple first aid. The research was commissioned by the British Red Cross and conducted by the University of Manchester.

Data taken from coroners’ offices showed that while 93% will call for an ambulance if they find someone with an injury, first aid intervention of any kind was infrequent. Around half did not attempt any first aid while waiting for the emergency medical services to arrive.

At the event, Richard learnt two simple first aid skills and pledged support for others to also have the opportunity to gain the confidence and learn the skills that could save a life.

Richard said: “I was shocked to hear that so many deaths potentially could have been prevented by some basic first aid. Something as simple as turning someone on their side and tilting their head back to keep their airway open could be all it takes to make that difference between life and death in certain situations.”

Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross head of first aid education said: “The good news is that most people are calling 999. But after calling 999 we want people to then do something in those crucial minutes before the ambulance arrives. Sadly in the majority of deaths we looked at, the simplest interventions could have helped keep someone alive until they got to hospital.”

The British Red Cross is calling for everyone in the UK to learn two basic first aid skills that could help to prevent the number of people who die from injuries before reaching hospital. The simple interventions which could have saved lives and improved outcomes are:
• Breathing: turning someone on their side and tilting the head to open the airway if they are unresponsive and breathing.
• Bleeding: applying pressure to a wound to stem blood flow.

The charity is calling for more opportunities for people to learn first aid, starting at school, but also through the driving test and public health initiatives.

Find the report and more about the British Red Cross campaign here.

This week, Richard called a debate in the House of Commons on the future of Bedford Hospital. During the debate, Richard criticised the flawed Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review and supported Bedford Borough’s Plan and the NHS National Strategy.

Responding to Richard, Ben Gummer, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, said the people of Bedford had been “let down” by reviews “going on too long” and called on NHS England to “ensure that a plan is agreed locally as quickly as possible and just to get on and do it, so that we stop this indecision and vacillation, which has clearly caused local people in Bedford such concern over so many years”.

You can watch the full debate here:

Richard with Jeremy Hunt discussing the Council Healthcare Plan

Richard with Jeremy Hunt discussing the Council Healthcare Plan

The day after Bedford Borough Council published its cross-party report on the future of Bedford Hospital, Richard Fuller MP met Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, to tell him how the Council’s report provides a viable future for our local hospital consistent with national NHS priorities.

Bedford Borough Council’s cross-party report, prepared by PriceWaterhouse Coopers and published on 7th June, outlined a number of ways in which social care and hospital services could be integrated to save money and ensure that Bedford Hospital could continue to provide as many local services as possible.

Richard said:
“The Council’s cross-party report shows that local politicians – MPs, the Mayor and Councillors from all parties – are united in our determination that the maternity ward will remain at Bedford Hospital. The Council’s proposals to merge social care and NHS care in our area fits much better with national priorities of the NHS and would help fix the financial deficit at Bedford Hospital whilst retaining the maternity unit at Bedford Hospital.”

On the 8th June, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review published their proposals for local healthcare which would see the transfer of maternity services to Milton Keynes Hospital.

Richard criticised these proposals from the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Joint Healthcare Review saying:
“The Joint Review’s proposals are unworkable, unwarranted and unwelcome yet this “Zombie” review conducted at a cost of millions of pounds cannot stop itself from repeating mistake after mistake. For these past five years, I have campaigned against the proposals from this Review and have worked with clinicians at our hospital to develop their own vision for future care, IACS, the core for an ‘Addenbrooke’s Alliance’.”

The integrated acute and community services or IACS model incorporates integrated primary, community and acute care, networked with other hospitals to provide some hyperacute and fragile services.

Richard opens the new branch office of Nurse Plus at Bedford Heights, Manton Lane

Richard opens the new branch office of Nurse Plus at Bedford Heights, Manton Lane

Richard officially opened the latest branch office of Nurse Plus last week.

At the opening, Richard was able to learn more about the valuable service the Bedford Nurse Plus branch will be providing to the local community. He also saw the onsite training facilities used by staff to learn how everyday equipment, such as a hoist, should be used safely.

After cutting the ribbon, Richard said: “It was a pleasure to officially open the latest branch of Nurse Plus at Bedford Heights, which offers specialist staff to local nursing homes, domestic homes and to the NHS.”

 

Richard presenting the Continence Care Champion award to Jacq Emkes at the House of Commons

Richard presenting the Continence Care Patient Champion award to Jacq Emkes at the House of Commons

Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford, joined Jacq Emkes, a teacher from Bedford, at the House of Commons last week to celebrate her success at the National Continence Care Awards where she was presented with the Continence Patient Champion award.

The NHS estimates that over 14 million adults in the UK suffer with bladder control problems and 6.5 million with bowel control problems, many of whom will suffer in silence. Jacq received the award in recognition of her efforts to campaign for better continence care for patients.

Incontinence is still a taboo subject, with almost half (45 per cent) of people with the condition waiting at least five years before they get help, and can have a devastating impact on an individual’s quality of life, leading to avoidable complications, such as infections, pressures sores and falls and is second only to dementia as a reason for admission to residential care.

Speaking at the awards, Richard said: “I am delighted to present Jacq with the award and to thank her for all her work in raising awareness about the impact of the condition in order to improve the lives of those living with incontinence in Bedford and beyond.”