Following my visit to the Hawthorn Drive GP surgery, I’ve now written to the Health Secretary calling for fairer funding for GP surgeries in Ipswich. At the moment the national funding formula doesn’t take into account local pockets of deprivation when working out how much money GP surgeries should get. Yet this is a significant reasons why Hawthorn Drive and a number of other GP surgeries see more people who are living with mental illness and other conditions. This has contributed to the funding pressure the Hawthorn Drive practice is under and this pressure will only get greater with an aging demographic in Chantry.
I’ve called on the Health Secretary to look at increasing funding for the Hawthorn Drive Surgery in particular but also GP services across Ipswich which are losing out in this way. The second lockdown will only increase the pressure in areas like mental health and it mustn’t be areas with higher disadvantage which get left behind.
Very honoured to have laid a wreath at this mornings Remembrance Sunday service on Christchurch Park. A much scaled back socially distanced event but an extremely poignant one nonetheless. Well done to the Suffolk Royal British Legion and all those involved in putting today’s service together. Very strange the national anthem being played and not being able to sing but I’m glad that this Sunday like every other Sunday we were able to mark the occasion. I was pleased to see that many others were able to join us but in a safe way. I very much hope and believe that this time next year the park will again be filled with thousands people from across Town wanting to pay their respects. We must never forget the extraordinary sacrifice made by those who have given their lives for our country and the liberties and freedoms and are so intrinsic to who we are.
Spoke in Parliament on Wednesday about PC Andrew Harper and the need for mandatory life sentences for those found guilty of killing police officers. This is what the campaign led by PC Harper’s widow, Lissie, is calling for. I had planned to meet Lissie last month although unfortunately I wasn’t able to in the end because of my self-isolation. But of course this campaign has my full backing.
The three thugs who killed PC Harper brutally dragged him behind their car for over a mile but inexplicably were only found guilty of manslaughter. All of 3 of them will most likely be let out of prison with the vast majority of their life ahead of them despite ending the life of a young police officer and leaving his family with a wound that will never fully heal.
I was one of the 22 Conservative MPs who wrote the Attorney General earlier this year calling on her to review the pitiful sentences of the men who killed PC Harper, and I won’t stop raising it. His family deserves justice, but there also needs to be a complete confidence among the public that there will be no tolerance for those who harm the police officers who keep us safe.
This week I asked the Minister for Policing directly about getting robust punishments in place for those individuals who try to use Covid-19 as a weapon by spitting and coughing at police officers. Unfortunately we have seen reports of this despicable crime in Ipswich and around the country during this pandemic. And back in April I called in the House of Commons for the full force of the law to come down on anyone found guilty of assaulting our police officers in this heinous way, when they’re going above and beyond to keep us safe. I’ve also stressed the need to clamp down on this crime with the Government through written questions.
It was good to hear in the Minister’s response that the Government is seriously focusing in on this issue with prison sentences being handed out and that new laws are in the pipeline that will double the maximum sentence for assaults on emergency service workers. Spitting at police officers is a disgusting crime at the best of times, but during Covid-19 it’s particularly aggravating potentially with severe consequences for officers’ physical and mental health. I’ll be making the case that these new laws on tougher sentencing should be brought forward as soon as possible.
On Monday I met with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution about preventing suicidal behaviour on the Orwell Bridge and how those at risk on the Bridge can be helped. Every suicide and every time someone goes up on the Bridge with suicidal thoughts is a tragedy and we must take every possible step to ensure the authorities can intervene before the worst happens.
One of the issues raised with me by the Institution was their understanding that cameras on the Bridge, which could spot people at risk, aren’t currently working. Any cameras need to be consistently monitored as well. And I’ve now written to Highways England’s CEO calling for this to be look into. As well as the Orwell Bridge, we also need a local approach to looking at other potential sites where people could be at risk and what we can do to make sure the chance to help isn’t missed. The Institution have also said the number of incidents on the Bridge have increased since the first lockdown. Clearly with the new national lockdown and more restrictions on people’s ability to see loved-ones and potentially more pressure on their finances in the run up to Christmas, we have to do everything we can now.
I’m also looking to raise this issue as part of my work on Ipswich’s Transport Taskforce and its engagement with Highways England. We must ensure this issue is prioritised locally. This will be a focus for me over the coming days and weeks. I’ll keep working with the local branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution based in Harwich which is mainly made up of volunteers who respond with lifeboats if someone is at risk on the Orwell Bridge. And of course I’ll continue working with organisations like Suffolk MIND and our local NHS to ensure everything is being done to stop anyone getting to the place where they feel their only option is take their own life.