Weekly Round-up :: 12 May 2023

I was pleased to start the week speaking at the Health and Care Forum to talk to charities and patients’ groups about the work they do on behalf of patients being useful to parliamentarians. Good policy can only come after an understanding of the situation on the ground. But more than that, long-lasting policy can only be secured if we put patients first. We must redouble our efforts to improve patient satisfaction with the NHS.

This week I also joined Purpose Health Coalition in Parliament, who aim to encourage more people across the country to take up careers in their local NHS. We heard from Wes Streeting MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Our NHS is built on the wonderful, caring people who run it and care for us when we most need it. Without tackling the retention crisis in the health service or having a workforce plan we will continue to see patient care fall short of what is expected. The Labour Party has shown time and time again that we understand how to run your public services. We must help the NHS continue on its march forward in reform and support the medical profession to deliver the breakthroughs needed in preventative care. More money alone into NHS won’t fix 13 years of Tory mismanagement.

Diabetes is a health condition that affects more and more people in the UK. That’s why I made time to pop into the Diabetes UK drop-in session this week. Untreated diabetes can be serious and even fatal. That’s why it’s important that residents visit their local GP to check their symptoms and discover preventative measures to halt the onset of diabetes. If you want to learn more just visit Diabetes UK’s website.

As you can already see, this week has been heavily focused on health matters. But on Wednesday morning I took up my seat on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee to consider our investigation on “The Scrutiny of International Treaties and other international agreements in the 21st century”. A bulky title for a hefty subject! This was our 7th meeting on the issue and we heard from leading academics in international law and public policy on examples of international best practice and potential reforms to the current mechanisms for scrutinising of international agreements. It’s key to note that since the UK left the EU, we have lost the previous scrutiny mechanisms for international agreements reached by the UK. This was an active choice taken by the Tory Government. I believe we need more scrutiny, not less and Parliament should be at the heart of this process.

The session looked at how the UK can bring its treaty-making and scrutiny process in line with today’s international best practice. To better understand this, we compared the UK system for negotiating, agreeing, and implementing international agreements with other countries.

I ended my parliamentary week how I started: being very busy. On Thursday I secured a question to the Cabinet Office on the steps the Government is taking to support small and medium-sized businesses bidding for public contracts. SMEs are fundamental to the economy of Bristol South and the wider South-West region as a whole, and for the provision of local jobs in the area. I asked the Government to work on closing the gaps in the Procurement Bill to enforce payment deadlines so that money is filtered down through the supply chain to help those vital SMEs.

An Urgent Question was also granted on Thursday regarding the Retained EU Law, the Revocation and Reform Bill. A title I’m sure is designed to make people lose interest on this vital aspect of our post-Brexit relationship with the EU. I criticised the Government for their flippant approach to this Bill and the haste with which the Tories have brought this forward. Simply put: it’s demonstrated their ill-preparedness. It’s clear to me, through my work with the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, that the system through which we look at international treaties is not up to scratch and this debacle exemplifies the failures in our current system.

I was pleased to speak in a Westminster Hall debate this week on allergy awareness. We are seeing a rise in allergies in the UK, with the third highest incidences of allergies in the world. Allergies are stressful and costly conditions, which require adjustments to everyday life. It is terrifying for families to experience allergy reactions, particularly for parents of children who are rushed to hospital. There are just 40 allergy consultants in the UK – that equates to one consultant for every 1.3 million adults in the UK. The provision is wholly inadequate. It is vital that we ensure that there are allergy services across all areas so that people are adequately supported across the UK.

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.