Tag Archives: therese coffey

28 March 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Number of GP practices falls by over 500 since 2019
  • Lib Dems call for ban on strip searches in schools
  • Coffey attacks farming journalists

Number of GP practices falls by over 500 since 2019

  • Lib Dem Leader launches Local Election campaign calling for a return to “proper local health services” amid GP shortages and appointment delays
  • Rural areas “bearing the brunt of GP practice closures”, forcing people to drive long distances to see a doctor
  • Government on course to break Conservative manifesto pledge on doctor recruitment as GP numbers plummet by over 850 since the last election

New analysis of NHS data by the Liberal Democrats has found there are 547 fewer open and active GP practices in England compared to 2019 – despite rising patient numbers.

At the last election, the Conservative party promised to recruit 6,000 more GPs. However, today’s analysis reveals there are now 850 fewer GPs compared to 2019.

Rural communities are suffering most from GP practices closing. A recent study found 206 villages where patients must travel at least 5 miles to see a doctor – a 12% rise on 2017.

This new analysis of NHS figures follows a research poll commissioned by the Liberal Democrats which reveals over a quarter (29%) of UK adults have tried and failed to get a face-to-face GP appointment in their local area over the past twelve months.

Embarrassingly for the Government, GP practices are even closing in the Heath Secretary’s own constituency, with a Cambridgeshire practice serving thousands of local people due to close its doors this month.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 29th March), Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey will launch his party’s local election campaign in Hertfordshire, where he will call on the Government to invest in local health services. The South of England is the worst part of the country for GP appointment problems, where over 1 in 3 people tried and failed to secure a GP appointment last year.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to recruit 8,000 more GPs and have set out plans to give patients a legal right to see a GP within 7 days. It would be achieved through increasing training places for GPs, a programme to retain experienced doctors and staff, and launching a recruitment drive to encourage those who’ve left the NHS to return.

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Tom Arms’ World Review

China

China has marked the first anniversary of the Ukraine War with a pair of unsurprising foreign policy papers. The first one concentrates on the Ukraine War and proposes a well-trod and contradictory solution: Russia respects Ukrainian national sovereignty. Everyone respects Russia’s security aspirations and nobody imposes sanctions against anyone.

The second paper is more about calls for a new world order. Again, no real surprises. China is trying to re-write the international rule book by playing to the interests of the developing world in Africa, Asia and South America.

The second paper is important but China’s position on Ukraine is of more immediate interests and whether Beijing likes it or not, the two issues are clearly linked. The outcome of the Ukraine War will influence which way the global South jumps: If Ukraine wins then American influence grows. If Russia stomps Ukraine then it is a victory for Beijing as well as Moscow.

But back to China’s Ukraine paper which was preceded by foreign minister Wang Yi’s tour of Europe and participation in the Munich Security Conference. The goal of the trip was to drive a wedge between the US and its NATO allies. He failed.

Hanging over Wang’s trip was the claim by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that China is on the cusp of supplying weaponry to Vladimir Putin. Wang Yi denied this to EU foreign affairs commissioner Josep Borrell. But at the same time, Chinese diplomats, are letting it be known that the option is on the table. And if the US pushes them too far they will use it.

START

START has stopped. To be more precise it has been suspended by Vladimir Putin. This means that the last of the US-Russian strategic arms agreements has crumbled. These treaties were key building blocks in the diplomatic structure that ended the Cold War and continues to govern East-West relations.

So what is START? Well, for a start, it is an acronym for Strategic Arms Reduction Talks. Its full name is actually New START and it replaces START One which expired in 2009 as well as START Two and three which never got off the ground and the Treaty of Moscow (aka SORT).

What does (or did) START do? It cut by 10 percent the number of strategic missile launchers of Russia and the US and set up a system of on-site inspections to verify that both sides were sticking to the agreement. The total number of launch platforms, which includes submarines, missile siloes and heavy bombers is limited to 1,550 each. It does not reduce the number of nuclear warheads they can hold, just the delivery systems. But then warheads are pretty useless if a country does not have the means to deliver them.

The START talks are the successor negotiations to the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation) talks which started with the 1972 ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty and limited the increase in the size of the super powers’ nuclear arsenals. At the height of the Cold War the Soviet Union had an estimated 40,000 nuclear warheads and the US 30,000.

President George W. Bush started unravelling the strategic arms structure in 2001 when he withdrew from the ABM Treaty over Russian objections. START was a major foreign policy victory for the Obama Administration but in 2019 Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump withdrew from the INF Treaty which limited the deployment of Intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe.

New START was last treaty standing. It was due to expire in 2021, but was extended for another five years. However, the Russians have been in breach of the agreement since March 2020. That is the last time Americans were allowed to inspect Russian facilities. The initial excuse for refusing access was the pandemic. That was superseded by the Ukraine War, which, of course, is the reason for the current suspension and, as most diplomats know, there are few things more permanent than the temporary.

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Therese Coffey should listen to those who really do understand how Universal Credit works

It is pretty staggering when a Government Minister goes on national television and exposes their own ignorance of something they are in charge of. But when that ignorance leads to them doing things that make it more difficult for the poorest people in our country to put food on the table and heat their homes, it is particularly reprehensible.

MPs’ inboxes are full of really heartbreaking stories from people who are already struggling to survive on Universal Credit and are dreading the £20 cut which comes in at the end of this month.

And then you have Therese Coffey, Work and Pensions Secretary, blithely say that all people will have to do is work an extra couple of hours. Well, er, no. It’s more like nine hours. She firstly assumes that people are getting £10 per hour when the minimum wage is £8.91. Then she forgets that for every £1 people earn over £293 per week, they lose 63p of their Universal Credit. The Lib Dems could have embraced the power of and in this tweet:

Therese Coffey fails to understand that it’s low paid working people with children who are struggling the most. Work really doesn’t always pay. And that is if you can get it. We haven’t started to really feel the long term economic impact of both Brexit and the pandemic yet. And with furlough ending at the end of this month, we may well see significant job losses.

Back in July, the Child Poverty Action Group set out why those families need the £20 uplift to stay:

Seventy-five per cent of children growing up in poverty in the UK live in households where at least one adult works. Low-income working families are struggling to pay for essentials like utility bills, new school uniforms and the food shop. In a couple household, having both members of a couple in work is increasingly important in preventing child poverty but in reality, universal credit does little to support parents trying to increase their income through work.

Firstly, as soon as a family with children earns more than £293 a month (their ‘work allowance’), for every pound they earn through work their universal credit is reduced by 63p. The very limited single work allowance, combined with the high reduction rate, makes it very difficult for families to increase their income through work.

And that is before you get to the practicalities of paying for childcare:

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Lord Tyler writes: Don’t listen to the doomsayers

Since the publication of the Government’s White Paper and Draft Bill on House of Lords reform, the old guard have lined up to cavil about its detail, to deride its democratic principles and to defend – in the last ditch – the status quo.

This has augmented the popular media’s predisposition towards arch cynicism and trenchant pessimism. Yet there is firm evidence to contradict their lazy assumptions. Just because Labour engaged in over a decade of dither and delay does not mean that a determined government, with the resolve of the House of Commons behind it, cannot succeed.

The …

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