Weekly Round-Up :: 10 March 2023

This week the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) met to question the Institute for Government about the value of the Civil Service People Survey and whether the results are used effectively by government departments to address the concerns raised by civil servants. In the past the PCS, the civil service’s largest union, has expressed concerns that departments have failed to follow-up on staff issues. Issues around bullying and harassment in the civil service have made headlines in recent years. The civil service work closely with Government and are an important part of the functioning of society. The people who work there must feel valued and that their concerns are addressed when they are raised. For the best functioning Government and public service, we need people who feel safe and secure in their work and who are not afraid to raise concerns about any aspect of their working life so that inefficiencies or abuses may be resolved.

We marked International Women’s Day this week. It is a day to celebrate the wonderful achievements of the women in our lives and women in society but also to consider some of the threats and inequalities that women continue to face in society. From domestic abuse to the gender pay gap, there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve true equality.

In the week of International Women’s Day, it is a good time to reaffirm the message about the importance of breast screening. At a drop in in Parliament this week, I spoke to people who had been affected by breast cancer and heard about their experiences. I also was able to speak to healthcare professionals about what they see and what changes they want to ensure that more people are screened so that signs of cancer can be identified earlier to improve outcomes. Everyone registered as female with a GP will be invited automatically for breast screening from the age of 50, however, if you are concerned about any changes in your breasts and you are not yet 50, it is important that you contact your GP to ensure that you are checked over. For more information, visit the NHS website.

Continuing the theme of International Women’s Day, I went today to Venturer’s Academy to talk about women in politics to the students there and then was able to speak with some of the older students about the realities of working in politics. There are some truly fantastic female parliamentarians doing incredible work for their constituencies and for wider society as a whole. It was great to talk to these young students and answer their questions about what it is like to work in politics.

Tomorrow I shall be joining the Bristol Women’s Voice International Women’s Day event, “A Caring Economy for Bristol: Who Cares Wins” to discuss what needs to be done to put care at the heart of Bristol’s economy and what we need to do collectively to make that happen. It is heartening to see the awareness among people in Bristol of the importance of the care sector – both from a humane perspective and from an understanding of the economic sense it provides. We want to see good jobs in the care sector in Bristol as well as help people recuperate from illness at home and to maintain their independence in life. I look forward to meeting everyone tomorrow and to discussing this very timely issue.

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.