Message from Andrew Mitchell

6th November 2020

Covid 19

An additional 259 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week of 25th- 31st October compared to an updated figure of 276 for the 18th- 24th October, based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.

The 7-day case rate between 24th- 30th October in Birmingham is now 259.1 cases/100K population, compared to 224.8 /100K for the period between the 17th -23rd October

Over the 7 days leading up to the 29th October of all community pillar 2 tests 13.5% are positive, this is an increase from the previous week and higher than the regional average of 11.6%.

Testing in the community over the last 7 days has reached 1,938 tests/100K population, which ranks 10th in the region.

Hospital admissions have increased, ranging between 17 and 48 new cases a day at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust over the 7 days from 24th to 30th October.

Westminster news and Parliamentary business

On Wednesday MPs voted in favour of the new Covid 19 restrictions for England which are now in place and will last until 2nd December.

After considerable thought I voted for these regulations, principally because I don’t think any Prime Minister could receive the expert advice of scientists and epidemiologists and ignore it without very good reason indeed. However I am very uncomfortable with the language of coercion, lockdowns and bans. I am worried about the impact on mental health and the economic challenges ahead, not least rising unemployment levels.

In my view and I know this is heavily endorsed across the Royal Town, it is better to rely on social solidarity and community good sense – above all social distancing, the wearing of masks and hand washing. I am also pressing government to be more relaxed about certain sports including golf and tennis and I am deeply concerned about the rules on public worship.

I am pressing ministers on the clarity of data and the lack of detail about the steps that are to be taken after 2nd December. Various other helpful points have been raised by Sutton Coldfield residents and I am discussing all of them with ministers and officials.

It is important to treat the public as adults with autonomy and agency and as I have said before, I would like to see a common sense approach taken to the restrictions. The Government has to make difficult decisions, as so often, on the basis of imperfect information, with regional variations and quickly changing circumstances. These are hugely difficult issues, weighing up the human and financial cost of the measures and balancing damaging consequences with devastating consequences. At times of great threat and uncertainty the Government must act to protect the most vulnerable members of our community and it is for this reason that I supported the 4 week lockdown. The restrictions are not as extensive as earlier in the year. Full details of the rules are available on the Gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november

I appeared on Times radio earlier this week to discuss the new restrictions and the US Presidential election. The whole show is available here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/radio/show/20201104-3020/2020-11-04 and I have put some clips up on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh1dcjrq62DwcP5ztQMoLWg/videos

On Thursday I asked an Urgent Question in the House of Commons as part of my work on the issue of assisted dying. I am co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Choice at the End of Life. I was deeply concerned to read details of a British woman with terminal breast cancer who brought forward plans to die at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland because she feared tighter coronavirus restrictions could prevent her from travelling at a later date. I spoke to this wonderfully brave lady at her request and it was part of the reason that enabled me to persuade the Speaker to allow a specific parliamentary occasion to take place. Full details of my question and the response from the Health Secretary are available to read on Hansard: https://bit.ly/2I13xOQ

I had a number of interesting meetings this week on a wide range of subjects including homelessness, whistleblowing and on the Financial Services Bill.

Royal Sutton Coldfield updates

Our local NHS Trust is experiencing significant pressure from patients requiring emergency admissions and a high number of inpatients across their hospitals. The Trust has therefore taken the decision to postpone all planned surgery requiring an inpatient stay at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham this week and potentially until end of the month. Gynaecological procedures at Good Hope Hospital have also been postponed. Heartlands Hospital continues to operate as an emergency only hospital. Solihull Hospital remains open as a Covid-clear site to maintain as many clinically-urgent planned procedures as possible.

Today our trust has approximately 380 Covid positive inpatients compared to 60 on 7th September. 36 patients are in ITU with Covid 19 compared to 5 in September. Although lower than the peak in April these figures combined with a significant number of emergency admissions has led the Trust to take this difficult decision. A group of senior doctors, led by a surgeon, will continue to prioritise surgery based on clinical need with a view to maintaining time-critical and cancer surgery.

This weekend our Remembrance Sunday commemorations will be very different to previous years.  Holy Trinity church will not be able to host the service in the way it normally does with former service personnel and we won’t be able to parade in the normal fashion. We will have a truncated service which has been well designed by the rector of Holy Trinity and the Bishop of Aston. A small number of wreaths will be laid and a short religious ceremony will take place at the memorial. I will post full details on my Facebook page in a separate post.

Normally our local Diwali event is held in Victoria Square in Birmingham, however due to Covid 19 this year’s celebrations will be online instead. Full details are available on the WMCA website https://www.wmca.org.uk/events/#!/event/diwali-on-the-screen/

Plans for the launch of a replacement for the Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer are still very much on track however the launch of the new paper has been delayed slightly and I hope to be able to provide further details soon. But the Royal Sutton Coldfield Chronicle’s arrival is imminent and it will have a much higher circulation than the Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer had. It will also be delivered free of charge.  

Western Power Distribution’s Community Matters fund has been extended and is now open for applications from community groups. The fund intends to support vulnerable people who have been affected by Covid 19.  Applications for the ‘In This Together – Community Matters Festive Fund’ are welcome from registered charities, community groups and councils. The application form and further details are available from the WPD website: www.westernpower.co.uk/ITT-festive-fund. The closing date for submissions is Sunday 15 November.

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As your MP I am here to help. If you feel I can assist with any concerns, please do not hesitate to get in contact by emailing me on andrew.mitchell.mp@parliament.uk