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Student Lockdown: Access to Care

Volume 681: debated on Tuesday 6 October 2020

What steps he is taking with the Secretary of State for Education to ensure that university students with (a) cystic fibrosis and (b) other long-term health conditions who are required to self-isolate on campus as a result of the covid-19 outbreak have access to essential (i) medication, (ii) dietary provision and (iii) medical care. (907109)

Universities have a duty of care to support students who are required to self-isolate. The Department for Education is working with universities to make sure that where an outbreak occurs, support is in place. That includes ensuring that students with cystic fibrosis and other long-term health conditions who are self-isolating have access to the food, medicine and medical care they may need.

Self-isolating students throughout the country, and their understandably worried parents, are reporting problems with accessing food, drinks, exercise and other support. That is completely unacceptable for any student, but for those with cystic fibrosis, who often need high calorie requirements to stay well, access to regular food supplies is absolutely essential for their health. What is the Minister doing to ensure that students with CF who are required to self-isolate at university and have previously shielded are able to access priority supermarket delivery slots? Many will have relied on their parents’ accounts when they were at home. What other action is she taking, in partnership with universities and the Department for Education, to ensure that every student with CF who finds themselves in lockdown is supported on their healthcare needs?

The hon. Lady asks a really important question. Clearly, it is a difficult time for students starting university now, but particularly for those with long-term health conditions such as cystic fibrosis. Overall, as she knows, the context is that we are prioritising education. We do not want students to put their life on hold, but we do want them to be supported by their university, particularly if it is harder for them to self-isolate because of health conditions. I am in regular contact with the Minister for Universities and will take up with her the specific questions about support for students with cystic fibrosis and access to supermarket deliveries. If the hon. Lady would like to raise any specific case with me, she should let me know and I will take that up with the Minister for Universities to address the specific issues.