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Petitions

Volume 594: debated on Thursday 26 March 2015

Petitions

Thursday 26 March 2015

Observations

Communities and Local Government

Traveller encampments in Brighton and Hove

The Petition of residents of Moulsecoomb, Woodingdean, Rottingdean & the wider Brighton area,

Declares that Brighton and Hove City Council has powers to deal with unauthorised traveller encampments; further that the Petitioners believe that the views, concerns and needs of the existing, settled community on this issue too often seem to be ignored; and further notes that sensitive sites in the city seem to be repeatedly targeted every year, costing large amounts of taxpayers’ money to clear up.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage Brighton and Hove City Council to use the powers available to them to deal promptly with unauthorised traveller encampments in the city.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Simon Kirby, Official Report, 26 January 2015; Vol. 591, c. 698.]

[P001429]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Government are very concerned about unauthorised Traveller encampments and the effect they can have on local communities.

In August 2013, the Government sent all councils in England a summary of the strong and extensive powers available to them to deal with unauthorised encampments and development—including their enhanced Temporary Stop Notice powers. We reminded councils of the need to be ready to take swift and decisive action to stop unauthorised encampments starting in the first place.

Public bodies should not gold-plate human rights and equalities legislation. Councils and the police have been given strong powers to deal with unauthorised encampments and when deciding whether to take action, they may want to consider for example, (a) the harm that such developments can cause to local amenities and the local environment, (b) the potential interference with the peaceful enjoyment of neighbouring property, (c) the need to maintain public order and safety and protect health—for example, by deterring fly-tipping and criminal damage, (d) any harm to good community relations, (e) that the state may enforce laws to control the use of an individual’s property where that is in accordance with the general public interest.

If Brighton and Hove City Council has consciously chosen not to utilise its powers to the detriment of local residents, the council leadership should be held to account for their inaction.

Education

Compulsory CPR and Public Access Defibrillator education

The Petition of residents of Bolton West,

Declares that all young people should leave school knowing how to save a life and further that the Petitioners believe that every child across the UK should be taught CPR and Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) awareness at secondary school in order to become part of a Nation of Lifesavers.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to put measures in place to ensure that every child is taught CPR and Public Access Defibrillator awareness at secondary school.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Julie Hilling, Official Report, 10 March 2015; Vol. 594, c. 267.]

[P001447]

The Petition of residents of Cambridge,

Declares that all young people should leave school knowing how to save a life and further that the Petitioners believe that every child across the UK should be taught CPR and Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) awareness at secondary school in order to become part of a Nation of Lifesavers.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to put measures in place to ensure that every child is taught CPR and Public Access Defibrillator awareness at secondary school.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Dr Julian Huppert, Official Report, 10 March 2015; Vol. 594, c. 267.]

[P001448]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Education:

Many schools already choose to include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillator awareness as part of their personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) teaching in the introduction to the new National Curriculum. We have highlighted the expectation that PSHE should be taught. Improving the quality of PSHE teaching is an objective of this Government. We do not, however, want to prescribe exactly which issues schools should have to cover in PSHE or other related parts of the curriculum.

CPR is included in the non-statutory PSHE Programme of Study produced by the PSHE Association. This suggested programme of study, produced by some of the leading experts in PSHE teaching, currently includes teaching young people how to recognise and follow health and safety procedures, ways of reducing risk and minimising harm in risky situations, and how to use emergency and basic first aid.

Many schools also make use of organisations such as the Red Cross and St John Ambulance, to provide information to young people about first aid and dealing with emergencies. The British Heart Foundation has offered to provide free CPR training kits to every secondary school in the country, allowing young people to gain first-hand experience of this important life-saving skill. We will work with the British Heart Foundation to promote these kits to schools and expect many schools to take up this offer.

The Government do recognise the vital difference that swift access to CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) can make in the event of a cardiac arrest. It is for this reason that we are encouraging all schools to consider purchasing one or more AEDs as part of their first-aid equipment.

On 26 November 2014, we announced new arrangements to allow all schools to purchase AEDs at a competitive price. We have also published advice on installing and maintaining AEDs on school premises, which has been developed drawing on the expertise of NHS ambulance services and a range of voluntary and community-sector organisations. It covers issues such as positioning, awareness training and maintenance, and is available online at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/automated-external-defibrillators-aeds-in-schools. The guide also draws schools’ attention to the offer from the British Heart Foundation to provide free CPR training kits to secondary schools.

You will also be aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget speech on 18 March that the Government are setting aside £1 million to help buy defibrillators for public places, including schools, and to support training in their use. The detail of how this funding will be used is currently being considered.

Health

Radiotherapy facility at Lister Hospital, Stevenage

The Petition of residents of the constituency of Hitchin and Harpenden,

Declares that patients who are residents of Hitchin, Harpenden, Redbourn, Sandridge, Wheathampstead and the surrounding villages have to travel to Mount Vernon Hospital in Hillingdon to receive radiotherapy treatment and that this journey is long and exacting and often has to be made on consecutive days.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage NHS England to provide a radiotherapy facility at Lister Hospital in Stevenage in order to make the journey for radiotherapy treatment much easier for patients who live in the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr Peter Lilley, Official Report, 26 March 2015; Vol. 594, c. 1541.]

[P001491]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Health:

Decisions about local services should be made as close to patients as possible, by those who are best placed to work with the patients and the public to understand their needs. Because it is a specialised service, radiotherapy is commissioned directly by NHS England.

NHS England has carried out a high-level exercise to assess capacity and demand for External Beam Radiotherapy generally at a national level. A further phase of work will also take place at a local level shortly and will include the launch of a radiotherapy capacity and demand survey.

On 12 March 2015, the Public Accounts Committee published “Progress in improving cancer services and outcomes in England”. One of the recommendations in the report is that NHS England should set out how it will ensure a co-ordinated national approach to procuring replacement radiotherapy equipment so that sufficient capacity is available in the right places.

NHS England will develop a plan to respond to this recommendation and the radiotherapy capacity and demand survey will be the first step in this process.

NHS England will continue to review the need for additional radiotherapy facilities outside the current centres if it benefits sufficient numbers of patients and will ensure that any changes are economically viable and enhance the existing care pathways.

The hon. Members for Stevenage and North East Hertfordshire met NHS England representatives on 24 March 2015 to discuss the provision of radiotherapy services locally, which is the appropriate course of action.

Treatment for Gastroparesis

The Petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that Lauren Dobbe suffers from Gastroparesis which causes her to be sick and suffer pain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and requires her to be tube fed which denies her a normal teenage life; further that NHS England is causing unnecessary suffering and misery to Lauren and her family by delaying the use of a proven medical intervention to treat her Gastroparesis; further that the Petitioners regret that NHS England has failed to properly assess the case for funding the fitting of a Gastric Stimulator which would act like a pacemaker helping to control symptoms and would allow Lauren to eat normally; and further that this has happened despite the recommendations of four specialists and the second opinion sought by NHS England confirming the recommendations of the specialists.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons asks the Government to urge NHS England to review the application and make funding available for the fitting of a Gastric Stimulator for Lauren Dobbe and further request that the House of Commons asks the Government to urge NHS England to recognise that a failure to provide the procedure would condemn Lauren to a life being fed by tube, ignoring her wishes as well as those of her family and the independent and expert advice of clinical specialists.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Paul Burstow, Official Report, 16 December 2014; Vol. 589, c. 1376.]

[P001414]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Health:

The Government recognise that gastroparesis is a chronic disorder which can have a serious impact on a person’s quality of life. There are a number of treatment options for this condition, and in some cases clinicians may consider recommending a gastro-electrical stimulation device for a particular patient.

In May 2014 the National Institute for Health and Excellence (NICE) issued updated Interventional Procedure (IP) guidance on gastro-electrical stimulation for gastroparesis. The guidance can be found at the following link:

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ipg489/resources/guidance-gastroelectrical-stimulation-for-gastroparesis-pdf

NICE is the independent organisation responsible for providing authoritative, evidence-based guidance to the NHS on the most effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat disease and ill-health and reduce inequalities and variation in care.

Unlike NICE’s Technology Appraisal Guidance, which assesses cost effectiveness and makes recommendations on particular treatments, IP guidance assesses the efficacy and safety of interventional procedures, with the aim of protecting patients and helping clinicians, healthcare organisations and the NHS to introduce procedures appropriately. It does not consider how much the procedures would cost the NHS, or whether the NHS should allocate funding for them.

Decisions regarding the suitability of a patient for gastro-electrical stimulation should be made by clinicians on a case by case basis, taking into the account the individual circumstances of each patient and considering the available evidence, such as NICE guidance. The NHS Constitution states that patients have the right to expect decisions on the funding of drugs and treatments

“to be made rationally following a proper consideration of the evidence.”

NHS England reviews individual funding requests (IFRs), such as the one made in this case, against criteria outlined in guidance the link below:

http://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/cp-03.pdf

The Government understand that NHS England has fully explained the IFR panel’s reasons for deciding not to fund a gastro-electrical stimulator in this instance.

Home Department

Security at Jewish faith schools

The Petition of residents of the Hendon constituency,

Declares that security at Jewish faith schools is a major concern for families and schools; further that extra security had been funded by parents and others before Autumn 2010; and further that they welcome the additional funding for security provided by the current Government.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to continue funding extra security at Jewish faith schools after 2015.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Dr Matthew Offord, Official Report, 18 March 2015; Vol. 594, c. 7P.]

[P001463]

Observations from the Secretary of State for the Home Department:

A key responsibility for Government is to protect individuals and the communities in which they live. The Government take the security of the Jewish community extremely seriously, and deplore all forms of hate crime, including when it is fuelled by racial or religious hatred. The Government are committed to stamping them out, and ensuring the safety and security of all our communities.

The appalling attacks in Brussels, Paris and Copenhagen have highlighted the particular risks faced by the Jewish community. The Government understand that these types of incidents are a cause for concern to many people, and action to tackle hate crime and extremism is being taken forward through our hate crime action plan and the Prevent strategy,

To address concerns, the police have responded to these incidents by implementing a range of protective security measures, including increased patrolling arrangements, and providing appropriate advice.

The Government’s School Security Grant has provided funding for private security guarding at Jewish state schools in England since 2010. On 18 March 2015, the Prime Minister announced a funding package to supplement existing measures to provide for security guarding at Jewish independent schools, synagogues and other community buildings, as well as equipment to boost the physical security of sites.

All Government funding beyond 2015-16 will be subject to a spending review, to be carried out after the election by the new Government. In the meantime, these and other security arrangements remain under review by Government and the police, and all appropriate measures will be put in place to combat any threats and to ensure the safety and security of all our communities.

Treasury

Closure of NatWest branch in Eccleshall

The Petition of residents of the constituency of Stone in Staffordshire,

Declares that residents of Eccleshall object to the closure of NatWest branch in Eccleshall and further that this is the only remaining bank branch in Eccleshall.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to encourage NatWest to keep the Eccleshall branch open.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Sir William Cash, Official Report, 3 March 2015; Vol. 593, c. 919.]

[P001440]

Observations from the Chancellor of the Exchequer:

The Government thank the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) for his petition on the closure of the NatWest branch in Eccleshall.

The Government are sorry to hear about the disappointment that the closure of the local NatWest bank branch has caused to residents of Eccleshall.

Improving access to banking is a key part of the Government’s long-term economic plan. The Government continue to engage actively with the banking industry and consumer groups on these matters. Recently, the Economic Secretary for the Treasury has chaired a series of roundtable meetings alongside the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills on access to banking. The UK’s banks and building societies have been tasked with enhancing and improving awareness of the banking services available through the Post Office. NatWest already has an arrangement with the Post Office to provide access to their bank accounts, where customers can withdraw money, deposit cash and cheques and check balances at all 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

While the range of services offered by the Post Office may be more limited than that offered in a traditional bank branch, the services provided through the Post Office’s extensive network ensures that essential banking facilities remain available in as many communities as possible. This Government have committed almost £2 billion to protect and modernise the Post Office network.

In addition, following local engagement with the hon. Member for Stone and the residents of Eccleshall, NatWest have re-aligned one of their Mobile Banking van routes so it will now visit Eccleshall. This will ensure face-to-face banking services are still available to the community of Eccleshall on designated days.

Although we can understand local residents’ concern, decisions on opening and closing agencies are taken by the management team of each bank on a commercial basis. As with other banking service providers, NatWest need to balance customer interests, market competition, and other commercial factors when considering their strategy and the Government do not seek to intervene in these decisions.