Weekly Round-Up :: 07 July 2023

We marked the NHS’s 75th anniversary this week – an astonishing landmark. It’s a time to thank those who work day-in and day-out to care for us and our loved ones. But it’s also a time to rededicate ourselves to delivering an NHS fit for the 21st century. An NHS which puts patients at its core and takes care of its staff to ensure we have a fit and healthy and looked-after workforce able to face the challenges of 21st century medicine. As the shadow Health minister, and former NHS manager, I’m determined that we harness modern technology and working practices to enable our clinicians to better serve patients. Not only that, but to ensure that the NHS becomes a world-leader is combating diseases and promoting healthy lifestyles.

This week I’ve been in Brussels as part of the EU/UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly (PPA). The PPA was established under the terms of the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA), and acts as a forum for the UK Parliament and the European Parliament to exchange views on their partnership. It is early days for this body with relationships and the structure of the meetings still in their infancy, but in these tentative steps we are rediscovering ways to work with our colleagues in the European Union. This forum of legislators brings together MPs from right across the UK Parliament as well as a chance to meet with our sister parties on the continent. Moreover, we get to build strong working relationships amongst the Officials that make both parliaments work and gain greater understanding of our respective systems. This is vital if we are to ensure that we can tackle the global issues facing us all effectively. As some of you may already know, I am Vice-Chair of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA). The BIPA was set up as part of the peace process to bring elected representatives closer. They have a proven track record of working so I strongly believe the PPA will have value in driving forward a better working relationship between the UK and EU.

I will likely write a longer piece just on the recent PPA meeting as there was a great deal we were able to discuss and it will be a regular part of my work going forward.

I was pleased to join a reception with the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Cyprus. Our Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told Annita Demetriou that her meteoric rise to first female Speaker in Cyprus and the first female president of the Democratic Rally Party ‘sent an incredible message to young women considering a career in politics’. She is a fantastic role model for young women looking to enter politics and also an excellent model for young men, who can see the importance of having powerful young women in politics and the positive work that they do.

I was able to meet with representatives of The Huntington’s Disease Association. Huntington’s disease is an illness caused by a faulty gene in your DNA (the biological ‘instructions’ you inherit which tell your cells what to do). If you have Huntington’s, it affects your body’s nervous system – the network of nerve tissues in the brain and spinal cord that co-ordinate your body’s activities. Although there is, as yet, no cure, you can learn to manage symptoms more effectively to improve your quality of life. You can find out more on the Huntington’s Disease Association website.

You may have also seen that this week the Labour Party launched our fifth pledge to you: an education system that allows all children, at all ages, the right to grasp opportunities. We have seen that the Conservatives are holding Britain back, having overseen more than a decade of decline in skills and training opportunities which is making Britain and its people poorer. Learning opportunities have been stripped away since 2010, with almost 4 million fewer adults taking part in learning, 200,000 fewer apprenticeship starts over the last decade, and 3 in 10 young people leaving education without qualifications that are key to getting on in the modern economy. By harnessing the ambition and determination of the British people, Labour will create a skills system that works for businesses and for people across our country. We will reform the apprenticeships levy, devolve skills budgets, and deliver a national mission to upskill led by Skills England.

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.