Weekly Round-up :: 03 February 2023

I share the deep concern of many residents about the state of the NHS – the ambulance delays, overworked staff, and the waiting lists for operations. During the debate on the Government’s plan for urgent and emergency care capacity this week, I tackled the Secretary of State for Health on the need for better data at a local level. Time and time again they like to announce a change to the NHS, but never give us the information to show how it will work across the country. Bristol is no different. The Secretary of State, unsurprisingly, talked around the matter instead of showing how his announcement would improve things in our area. Rest assured I will continue to use my knowledge and experience as a former NHS manager to press for action that will improve healthcare outcomes in Bristol.

In 2018 the Government unveiled a new strategy for the Civil Service that was intended to save money, encourage growth outside London, and to diversify the staff and culture of the Civil Service. A long list of things they thought they could improve! The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee are looking into the progress of this strategy and how it has been adapted to take into account recent developments, such as hybrid working following the pandemic. The Civil Service must be a national institution, with staff working in areas it understands. But this national institution shouldn’t hoard power within Whitehall. It should be the engine room for government which is fuelled with ideas and ambitions of the nations and regions of the UK. Moreover, it’s important that we have a variety of well-paid jobs across the country, not centred in London. With the increase in hybrid working that the pandemic instituted but which have benefited working parents and those on lower incomes allowing them to move out of cities, we have to adapt our government institutions to fit the times. Technological advances must be embraced to bring good jobs into regions traditionally left behind and to support local economies grow.

There was an excellent drop-in event in Parliament this week to raise awareness of brain injuries. An acquired brain injury can be caused by numerous things, including falls, road accidents or something like a tumour or a stroke. Brain injuries can have huge impacts on someone’s live from affecting their independence to impacting on their family life. It was great to hear from the charities who work with people to support them. You can find out more from Headway.

I was frustrated this week at the Government’s lack of respect shown to Parliament and the duties of MPs. I had secured a question to the Cabinet Office on Thursday, but it was withdrawn by the department. This Government has got far too used to withdrawing questions it doesn’t want debated, limiting the democratic effectiveness of the work that MPs do. It is completely unacceptable that MPs, concerned about issues they work on in Select Committees, are unable to tackle the issues in the House of Commons with department representatives. I take very seriously my work on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and my constituents have a right to expect that I am able to ask government ministers questions about the issues arise, particularly when it relates to the effectiveness and value for money of their spent taxes.

I am looking forward to joining tomorrow’s Lantern Parade in Bedminster and meeting the wonderful people from the area who have organised this event. It’s fantastic to see all the volunteers working with schools to help them create their lanterns and take part in the parade. See you all tomorrow!

If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing Karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk or by calling 0117 953 3575.