It is wrong that NHS patients are being denied access to potentially life-saving medication due to the prohibitive costs charged by pharmaceutical companies.Read more
The NHS was one of the proudest achievements of the Labour Party and it is has always fallen to Labour to preserve and strengthen it.Read more
I fully support the removal of VAT on sanitary products.
Having a period is a completely natural process and the buying of sanitary products is a basic necessity, not a luxury.Read more
I believe that we should endeavour to make all workplaces breastfeeding-friendly and support local health services to become baby friendly.
No parent should feel stigmatised for breastfeeding, and we should be more accepting of such a normal act in the workplace.Read more
Over six thousand people in the UK are on the organ transplant waiting list. Last year, 457 people died while on that list. That is 457 lives that I believe could have been saved if we had used an ‘opt-out’ organ donation system. This is because, under the current system, many people simply do not register as organ donors despite their willingness to donate.Read more
There are 4,350 people in the UK waiting for an organ donation at present. I have long held that as a country we can do more to help those in need of organ transplants. I believe the most effective way to do this is to increase the number of potential donors through the introduction of an opt-out system of organ donation.
Under the current opt-in system, people must register to become an organ donor. This means we are reliant on potential donors not only thinking about it but also finding the time to sign up. However, the system in place in Wales – and in many countries across Europe – is opt-out. This means that people must take the active step of stating that they do not wish their organs to be donated. For those who take no action, they are deemed to have given consent.
The evidence from Wales suggests that the move to an opt-out system has dramatically increased the number of organs available. Recently, the Scottish Government announced it planned to introduce a similar system in Scotland. Since 2017, I have been campaigning for us to have an opt-out system of organ donation in England too.
Any change would have to be accompanied by a strong set of safeguards to ensure that no one’s organs were donated against their wishes. There would also need to be an active public awareness campaign to ensure that people were aware of the change and to encourage more people to take the positive step of becoming potential organ donors.
- July 2017: I asked the First Secretary of State whether the Government planned to introduce an opt-out system of organ donation in England. You can read my question and the First Secretary’s response here. Watching on were the family of Max Johnson – a nine year old who has been waiting for a heart transplant for six months. You can read more about his story here.
- July 2017: I led a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament arguing for an opt-out system of organ donation. You can read the content of that debate here.
- July 2017: My colleague, Geoffrey Robinson MP, introduced his Private Member's Bill in Parliament to move to an opt-out system of organ donation in England.
- December 2017: The Government announces a consultation on the introduction of an opt-out system of organ donation in England. Read about the consultation here.
- August 2017: Max Johnson receives a life-saving heart transplant.
- February 2018: MPs back the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill. The Bill now moves onto the committee stage.
- August 2018: The Health Minister announces the details of the proposed opt-out organ donation scheme and confirms that the legislation will be referred to as "Max and Keira's Law".
- October 2018: I led the Bill through its final stage in the House of Commons, where it passed unanimously. You can read the content of that debate here.
- February 2019: The Bill was passed by the House of Lords.
- March 2019: The Bill received Royal Assent and became known as the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019. 'Max and Keira's Law' is at last on the statute book.
- May 2020: The provisions of the Act - an opt-out system for all adults in England apart from those in an excluded group - came into force.
I am very proud that our campaign to introduce an Opt Out organ donation system has succeeded. It will save lives and give hope to many. I would like to thank everyone who made the Bill's passage possible. The Bill's sponsor, Geoffrey Robinson MP; everyone at the Daily Mirror who campaigned tirelessly to change the law; Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May for their support, and the Health Minister who guided the Bill through Parliament, Jackie Doyle-Price MP.
Most of all, I would like to thank Max Johnson and his mum, Emma, for the dignity and courage they have shown throughout the campaign. Max is the 10 year old boy who fronted the Daily Mirror's campaign. He would not be with us today had it not been for the incredibly brave decision of Keira Ball's family last August, who donated their daughter's heart and saved Max's life. This Act is for Max, and for all those desperately waiting for a life saving operation.
This Act will save thousands of lives and give hope to those on organ donor waiting lists.
Prescription charges are an important source of income for our health service. Whilst I recognise that they can be a significant cost for many people, the flat rate charge for all prescriptions helps ensure that everyone is treated equally when it comes to their medical requirements.Read more
Every year the Office for National Statistics release figures showing how many elderly and vulnerable people have died due to the cold during the winter months. Over the course of winter in 2015 a staggering 24,300 people died from mostly preventable causes. Over the last 5 years more than 152,000 of the most vulnerable people up and down the country have died between November and March. That’s like losing the combined population of both the Barnsley Central and Barnsley East constituencies. In a modern Britain that’s completely unacceptable.
Since being elected as MP for Barnsley Central in 2011, I have been urging the Government to take action on this issue. The shocking statistics published annually by the ONS demonstrate that the Government urgently needs to come up with a credible, ambitious, cross-government strategy that helps people stay safe over winter.
February 2012: I asked the Prime Minister about excess winter deaths at PMQs. Read my question and the Prime Minister's response here.
January 2013: I wrote for Age UK’s blog. You can read my article here.
January 2016: See my questions to the Prime Minister on this issue; holding him to account over the appalling number of excess winter deaths and asking him why his Government isn't doing more to prevent these unavoidable deaths every year.
February 2016: I asked the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change what she was doing to ensure households met the minimum energy efficiency standards, in order to prevent excess winter deaths. Read her response here.
April 2016: Mumsnet kindly invited me to hold a webchat to discuss excess winter deaths.
June 2016: I lead an Adjournment Debate in parliament calling for a national strategy to prevent excess winter deaths. Read my debate here.
June 2016: I wrote for the Yorkshire Post about what we can do to reduce the unacceptable levels of excess winter deaths seen in this country. Read my article here.
June 2016: Catch up with my webchat on Gransnet.
October 2016: I asked the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what he was doing to co-ordinate activity between different Government Departments in order to minimise excess cold weather deaths. Read his response here.
November 2016: I asked the Secretary of State for Health to take responsibility and act to reduce the number of excess winter deaths. Read more here. In light of the most recent figures, I ask the Leader of the House for a debate on the crisis.
Unless the Government takes urgent action, people will continue to lose their lives in this country every winter due to the cold. All too many of these deaths are preventable; better heating, health and housing are the key to reducing excess winter deaths, and they are not difficult to achieve. How a society cares for the elderly and most vulnerable is an important yardstick by which we should be judged. I will continue my campaign until the Government takes the action needed to end this quiet crisis.
In 2014, the rapid increase of the sale of so-called ‘legal-highs’ in Barnsley caused a surge in anti-social behaviour across the Borough. Residents and shopkeepers contacted me with alarming reports of users collapsing, vomiting and urinating in the streets, gathering in groups and intimidating passers-by with inappropriate behaviour at all times of day and night. It quickly became clear that the devastating impact of ‘legal-highs’ was being felt throughout the UK. These potentially lethal substances were becoming readily available, with many users being unaware of the dangers of taking highs which mimic the effects of illegal drugs. The Government was slow to respond on this issue, so I began a national campaign to criminalise ‘legal highs’ and remove these dangerous substances from our streets. I also set up a meeting with Barnsley Council and local stakeholders to discuss how best to tackle the impact on our community.
March 2014: Deciding to tackle the issue head on, I met with the owners of the 'legal high' shop in Barnsley to ask them to consider the serious impact of their sale of ‘legal-highs’ on the community.
July 2014: Speaking at the Westminster Hall debate on the issue, I urged the Government to take action on legal highs. The 'legal high' shop in Barnsley is evicted from their town centre premises – a fantastic result but unfortunately the owner opens new premises on the Sheffield Road.
November 2014: I welcome the Government’s plan to legislate for a blanket ban on the sale of 'legal highs'. Listen to me discuss the key issues on Dearne FM
February 2015: I met with Home Office ministers to ask when a ban will be brought in.
April 2015: I urge Barnsley Council to liaise with other local authorities who have used Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) to curb anti-social behaviour arising from the use of ‘legal-highs’.
June 2015: I held a public meeting with residents to discuss the impact of legal highs on the community.
September 2015: after writing repeatedly to the proprietors of ‘Smokey Sam’s’ urging them to act responsibly, they finally agree to cease selling legal highs completely by the end of the year.
January 2016: the Home Office introduces the Psychoactive Substances Bill.
1 April 2016: Barnsley Council introduce a Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) giving enforcement officers enhanced powers to take action against those acting inappropriately under the influence of legal highs.
May 2016: the Psychoactive Substances Act becomes law. It is now a criminal offence to sell ‘legal highs’.
The introduction of the legislation outlawing 'legal highs' has had a significant impact on the supply of these dangerous psychoactive substances. On a local level, the police and enforcement officers have been able to make use of the enhanced powers given to them by the PSPO. Concerns remain regarding the online sale of these lethal highs and I will hold the Government to their promise to review the effectives of their legislation after 20 months.
It’s that time of year again when I swap my suit for a running kit, and stop pacing the corridors of Westminster to go pound the streets of London.
Running the London Marathon for Cancer Research UK is an annual event for me – as is the creeping realisation that I haven’t done enough training, the dread of those painful 26.2 miles and then the euphoria when I finally stagger across the finish line.Read more