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  • Writer's pictureKarin Smyth

Weekly Update: 12th January 2024

Updated: Jan 19

The new year in Parliament.  

Parliament returned for the new year this week, and it was great to be back on the front bench in the House of Commons on Tuesday – joining colleagues from Labour’s health team to bring a debate about the crisis in NHS dentistry. I hear regularly from constituents suffering dental problems that they are unable to find an appointment with an NHS dentist, as the majority of practices are not taking on new patients. With many MPs contributing to the debate, it’s clear that the situation is the same across the country. The Government has failed in its task of improving the service, and Labour called on ministers to adopt our plan to rescue NHS dentistry.


Local health services in Bristol.

I keep in regular contact with senior NHS managers in the Bristol area, and recently received an update on the new approach to supporting people experiencing mental health crises. In conjunction with local charity Second Step, an Urgent Assessment Centre has been set in Bristol, which aims to provide a more patient-centred service. The NHS locally has also been working to improve how patients are moved out of hospital, ensuring that people have the support they need to leave hospital when they are medically fit to do so.


Labour’s plan for the NHS.

On Wednesday, I travelled to Manchester with Labour leader Keir Starmer and Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting to meet with regional healthcare leaders. It was a fantastic opportunity to discuss the partnership between government and the NHS, and how Labour plans to build an NHS fit for the future. The event also marked the launch of Labour’s Child Health Action Plan. It’s our ambition to make this generation the healthiest that ever lived, and Labour’s plan will see fewer children waiting for treatment, mental health support in schools, and breakfast clubs at every primary school.


Improving dementia care.

I was pleased to contribute to a debate in Westminster Hall about dementia care on Thursday. Dementia is one of the biggest killers in England, and I took the opportunity to highlight the terrible burden inflicted on people suffering with dementia, as well as those who care for them. It’s vital that we take advantage of new research into dementia in the life sciences sector. By using the latest drugs and therapies, we can transform the lives of those who suffer with dementia, giving them and their families the support they deserve.


Knowle West Media Centre

On Friday, it was a pleasure to visit the Knowle West Media Centre, a charity and organisation in the heart of south Bristol. The CEO, Carolyn Hassan, is stepping back from the position, having held it since she founded the media centre in 1996. Under her guidance the media centre has had an excellent impact in the local area, and it was good to meet the team who would be carrying on the great work. We discussed the current projects the media centre is running, which included work on retrofitting, supporting young people to gain digital fabrication skills, and citizen science. Good luck Carolyn for your next adventure!


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