This week started with the welcome news that many of our public sector workers, who have been at the forefront of our battle with coronavirus, will be getting a pay rise. It includes our teachers, police, doctors and dentists and is no more than they deserve; we wish it could be more. Sadly the Government does not control pay for care home workers but the nation owes them a great deal and I hope this is increasingly recognised.
During these difficult last few months a great deal of focus has rightly been on the older members of the community but we need to start acting more for young people too. In addition to them missing out on classroom time, the lockdown has had a really big impact on children who need a bit of extra help. It has delayed getting Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) in place because face-to-face assessments were not happening for a time.
I have discussed these issues with the local Clinical Commissioning Group who do have a plan in place to really step things up and make sure the right diagnostic pathways are in place to get children the right help more quickly. However, I know that parents have been worried and quite rightly just want the best for their children. Plans have been put in place this week to create some new schools specifically for children with Special Educational Needs and we should see around 500 new places created in the South West in supportive environments with specially trained teachers. Too often parents feel like they have to fight for their child at every stage of getting the right help set up and as things start to return to normal we must look for ways to make that better.
Lots of people have contacted me recently with concerns about the Trade Bill which has just passed through the House of Commons. The Bill is needed to embed trade deals into UK law which was previously done as a function of our membership with the European Union. We will be able to negotiate our own arrangements across the globe which is clearly going to be a positive thing. Listening to issues raised by the NFU, which I have also heard myself here in Somerset, the Government will set up an independent food and agriculture commission. We are a world leading country in animal welfare standards and that will not change during any future negotiations.
Opposition parties sometimes table amendments regarding the NHS in the knowledge that they are not appropriate for that piece of legislation, and will be voted down, but they do generate a press release. Our commitment to the NHS is clear; the Government has recently given it the biggest cash boost ever and this week’s good news on pay for doctors backs that up. The NHS is too important to play games with.
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