Message from Andrew Mitchell

13th November 2020

Covid 19

An additional 274 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week of 1st-7th November compared to an updated figure of 287 for the 25th- 31st October, based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.

The 7-day case rate between 31st October and 6th November in Birmingham is now 287.4 cases/100K population, compared to 259.1/100K for the period between the 24th- 30th October.

Over the 7 days leading up to the 6th November of all community pillar 2 tests 14.9% are positive, this is an increase from the previous week and higher than the regional average of 12.7%

Testing in the community over the last 7 days stands at 1,933 tests/100K population, which ranks 11th in the region.

Hospital admissions have increased, ranging between 31 and 68 new cases a day at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust over the last 7 days from 31st October to 6th November.

Westminster news and Parliamentary business

This week we have received some positive news on the development of a vaccine for Covid 19 and further details of the Government’s plans for rapid testing. In the Royal Town our GPs and health service colleagues are making plans for mass vaccination and a suitable location, all of which is encouraging.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been tested on over 40,000 volunteers and interim results suggest it is proving 90 per cent effective at protecting people against the virus. The vaccine now needs to pass all the rigorous safety checks and further reviews of its effectiveness. If and when this vaccine is approved, we will begin a UK-wide NHS led programme of vaccine distribution. This will start with those most at risk, as currently recommended by scientific experts, before being rolled out more widely. Earlier this year the UK Government ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine – enough for about a third of the population, since two doses are required for each person. We have also ordered over 300 million doses from 5 other vaccine candidates as well.

Ministers have announced the rollout of 600,000 rapid-turnaround tests across England, so that we can detect Covid 19 quicker than ever before – even in people who don’t have symptoms. Mass testing will be a vital tool in defeating coronavirus and could be an important step in opening the economy up to events and larger social gatherings. Last week, we launched a pilot of mass testing in Liverpool. This pilot includes testing through an innovative new technology that can provide results within an hour without needing to be processed in a lab. Proactively testing asymptomatic individuals will help identify those who unknowingly have the virus and enable those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate, which can help drive down the R rate locally and save lives.

The Government has announced that councils will receive an extra £170 million via our Covid Winter Grant Scheme with the money ring-fenced to directly help the hardest-hit families and individuals. Funds will provide food for children who need it over Christmas. This builds on the £63 million provided to councils earlier this year to assist those struggling to afford food and essentials. The £170m fund will not only make sure that no child goes hungry over Christmas, but will also ensure that a variety of different locally identified needs are met. The Covid Winter Grant Scheme recognises that more people may feel under pressure this winter and will allow local authorities to support a wider group of vulnerable people including those without children and children who are not currently eligible for Free School Meals. The Holiday Activity and Food programme for 2021 will be available to children eligible for Free School Meals.

The One Nation Caucus has released a fifth report in a series of “One Nation Recovery Papers”. The new report sets out options for how to reform our approach to international development, to protect the UK’s aid budget while improving the efficiency of spending. I have written a short chapter which sits alongside contributions from a number of other politicians: https://onenationconservatives.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/globalbritainanddevelopment.pdf

The APPG on Anti-Corruption & Responsible Tax which I co-chair hosted a virtual seminar on tackling the enablers of tax avoidance this week and I had further meetings about assisted dying with MPs and with the team from Dignity in Dying.

Next week on Tuesday I will launch my 10 Minute Rule Bill which is partly built on ideas strongly supported here in Sutton Coldfield. It is the first 10 Minute Rule Bill I have initiated since I entered the House of Commons in 1987, the Doctors and Nurses (Developing Countries) Bill. I will report on its reception in Parliament and how the first reading went in my message next week.

Royal Sutton Coldfield updates

Last weekend our Remembrance Sunday commemorations took a different form due to the Covid 19 restrictions. Holy Trinity Church hosted a short service and a small number of wreaths were laid at the memorial. A small, socially-distanced ceremony replaced the large crowds that usually gather.

The Right Reverend Anne Hollinghurst Bishop of Aston and the Reverend John Routh from Holy Trinity Church conducted a wonderful and fitting service. Roy Hubbard represented the Royal British Legion and read Isaiah 52.7-10 and as your Member of Parliament I read the second lesson Matthew 5.1-12 (The Beatitudes) on behalf of our Royal Town. Although shorter and quieter than normal the morning went well and I pay tribute to all those involved in making the arrangements. The service was fitting although only three of us were in the congregation, it was broadcast online. I know that many members of our Sutton Coldfield branch of the Royal British Legion appreciated this.

The Mayor lead the commemorative laying of the wreaths as our Royal Town’s First Citizen followed by my laying a wreath as the Royal Town’s representative in Parliament. The third wreath was laid by David Ballantine for the Royal British Legion and the fourth wreath by a serving member of the Royal Navy, AB Catherine Egan. Harry Mills laid the fifth wreath on behalf of young people in Sutton Coldfield as a member of the Sixth form of Bishop Vesey, Sutton’s oldest School. The sixth wreath was laid later on behalf of the Police by the senior Police Officer representing Sutton Coldfield.

Earlier this week I spoke to members of the Sutton Coldfield Disability Action Group including their Chair Jan Cairns. It was good to hear of their progress with two particular projects. The group is working with the Neighbourhood Network Scheme to improve information and conditions for disabled people across Sutton Coldfield and I also heard about their plans to work more closely with our local GP practices to offer support to improve services for unpaid Carers. I will keep in touch with group and report on their progress in future messages.

Birmingham and Solihull’s health and social care organisations are working together to develop and launch the new Health Information Exchange (HIE) which is a confidential digital shared care record which will go live in the next few months. The HIE will bring together the records from health and care organisations across Birmingham and Solihull. This will enable health and care professionals directly involved in the care of a citizen in Birmingham to view their most up-to-date information, meaning patients will no longer need to repeat their history each time they receive care. More information is available online: https://www.livehealthylivehappy.org.uk/birmingham-and-solihull-health-information-exchange//

The West Midlands Combined Authority is holding a ‘Your Career’ event as part of its plans to drive the region’s economic recovery from the Covid 19 pandemic. The event will take place on Thursday 26 November will consist of two webinars – one for health care and one for social care – featuring local employers who are currently recruiting, together with experts advising on career development. The ‘Your Career – Social Care’ webinar runs from 10-11am. To book your place, visit https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/2170452856474597390 The ‘Your Career – Health Care’ webinar runs from 11.30am-12.30pm. To book your place, visit https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4096378314407981840

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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

Remembrance Sunday 2020

Remembrance Sunday 2020