Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017.
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.
“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.
Earlier this month, Richard officially opened the new British Friendly Society offices whose headquarters are in Bedford.
British Friendly is a small Income Protection insurance company who have been providing sickness and accident cover to their members since 1902. They specialise in cover for the self-employed and manual workers and have over 17,000 members throughout the UK.
Speaking at the event Richard said:
“It’s great that Bedford is home to a national success story and one that is thriving. For over 100 years, Bedford based British Friendly has been paying out claims to people who are too ill to work across the country, so we can say that local people are helping those in need throughout the UK!
“Their new offices and new brand show that Bedford is a good place to do business and the Friendly Society brand is one that is welcome in this age of multinational banking corporations – a friendly focus on helping their members first and foremost.”
A team of students from Bedford College won a national digital competition, sponsored by Google and HP, for their redesign of the 157 Group’s website – an organisation which represents leading Further Education colleges in the UK.
The winning team, Benny Ben & The Funky Bunch, are studying for Level Three BTec diplomas in IT and were one of five teams in the final to pitch their design to a panel of experts at Google headquarters in London. Three of the teams in the final were from Bedford College.
Each team member won an HP Chromebook and an HP Officejet Pro printer, as well as an HP Sprout Pro for Bedford College. Their design will also go into development and become the new 157 Group website.
Bedford MP, Richard Fuller, who was at Google to announce the winning team said:
“Digital skills are increasingly valued in the workplace and are vital to driving productivity. I am delighted that three of the five finalist teams at this national digital skills competition were from Bedford College, which shows that our college is one of the leading institutions in the country to train the next generation of digital entrepreneurs.”
As a member of the BIS Select Committee, Richard has begun taking evidence on the BHS pension fund in a joint inquiry with the Work and Pensions Select Committee.
You can watch Richard’s contributions to the first evidence session of the inquiry on 9 May here:
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 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.”
Richard Fuller has welcomed the launch today of the Government’s new National Living Wage – giving a big boost to the lowest-paid in Bedford and Kempston.
From today, 1 April 2016, workers aged 25 and over and not in the first year of an apprenticeship will be legally entitled to at least £7.20 an hour under the National Living Wage – that’s an extra 50 pence an hour compared to the National Minimum Wage – a £20 a week pay rise for a full time worker.
1.3 million hardworking people across the country are expected to benefit directly from the National Living Wage – which is set to rise to £9 an hour by 2020 – while 6 million could see a pay rise as a result of a ripple effect pushing wages up across Britain.
At the same time, the Government is increasing the tax-free personal allowance so that hardworking people keep more of the money they earn. From 6 April 2016 the personal allowance will rise to £11,000 – a saving of £80 – and from April 2017 it will rise again to £11,500 – taking 1.3 million of the lowest-paid workers out of income tax altogether and giving a tax cut to 31 million across the country.
Workers and employers can find more information online at www.livingwage.gov.uk.
‘Bedford and Kempston deserves a pay rise and I’m very proud to be part of a Conservative party that is delivering the higher-wage, lower-tax, lower-welfare economy we all want to see.
‘Boosting wages and making sure that more families have the security of a decent, regular pay packet, while ensuring that people are always better off in work, are at the heart of our long-term plan.’
Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford, has called on local health commissioners to “end the insanity” of a “deeply flawed review of local hospitals that has an almost total absence of local support in Bedford.”
On Wednesday, attending the public session of the first combined Health Review Committee looking at the futures of Bedford and Milton Keynes Hospitals, Richard said “This review has blundered along for years based on bureaucratic inertia, sticking rigidly to an incomplete framework of options and, in my view, indulging ever increasing losses at Milton Keynes Hospital and covering financial embarrassment at their regulator, Monitor.”
Richard challenged the Committee whether even now, after years of waiting and millions of pounds, they knew which services would be commissioned on each site, and whether they knew if there would be sufficient capital for any changes they proposed.
Members of the public at the meeting poured further doubt on the crucial question of patient flows between Bedford and Milton Keynes, which Richard said was one of a number of “serious flaws” that had plagued the review.
Richard Fuller has welcomed the latest figures which show the country is building again, with housing starts and completions at a seven year high.
The figures show there were 930 starts and 910 completions of new homes in Bedford Borough in 2015. Building more houses means that more people in Bedford and Kempton can achieve their dream of owning their own home.
The Government is going further than ever before, reforming the planning system, fast-tracking house building and investing in schemes like Help to Buy and is determined to do even more to achieve the ambition of 1 million new homeowners by 2021. The Government will continue to support small builders, build new affordable Starter Homes for young first-time buyers and build homes faster with planning permission in principle for brownfield sites.
“These figures show that the reforms to the planning system are working and builders are confident to invest and build new homes. The Government is determined to go even further and has doubled the housing budget to over £2 billion a year so more people in towns like Bedford and Kempston can have the security that comes with a home of their own.”
Music 4 Memory, part of Tibbs Dementia Foundation, hosted a very special session on Friday when they were joined by over 35 members of the Dunstable Rock Choir and Richard Fuller MP. With over 90 people with dementia, family carers, volunteers, the rock choir and the MP singing, dancing and laughing together, the morning was a joyous celebration and lesson in how to live for the moment and highlighted the wonderfully transformational power of music.
Music 4 Memory meets weekly to give people with dementia and their families a space to sing, dance and have fun together, importantly through performance and inviting other community groups to join sessions. Participants are able to challenge some of the negative stereotypes and misconceptions that still exist with dementia.
Sarah Russell, Chief Executive of Tibbs Dementia Foundation said, “All of our services and especially Music 4 Memory focus on what the person with dementia can still do. There are many losses associated with dementia but what people often forget is that a great deal remains and with the right support and encouragement people can continue to live fulfilled, active and meaningful lives and make a huge contribution to community life”.
Tibbs Dementia Foundation uses a community approach encouraging people with dementia, their families and a large pool of committed volunteers to actively work together to make positive changes for dementia in Bedford.
Richard Fuller MP, having last visited Music 4 Memory 18 months ago, said it was amazing to see how much it has grown and added, “For a local community organisation which is based on volunteers, it makes a huge impact on so many people’s lives. It really is a gold standard charity”.
The idea of creating a Dementia Friendly Community has long been promoted by David Cameron. Richard added, “Tibbs can tell Mr Cameron what works. It is groups like Tibbs across the country that should be leading and shaping what that community should look like. It has to be based on real life experiences, individual to individual, family by family. That’s what Tibbs does”.
For more information about the work of Tibbs Dementia Foundation, please visit their website.