Following a busy day in Central Suffolk, Dr Dan was delighted to meet with the Member of Youth Parliament for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, Finlay McPherson.
Finlay is a student at Hartismere High School and he was keen to meet with Dr Dan to find out more about the role of an MP and how he can help to best represent his peer group in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.
Amongst other things, Dr Dan was happy to learn more about Finlay's priorities for improving e-safety, the reduction of voting age and improving mental health facilities in schools here in Suffolk.
Dr Dan is looking forward to welcoming Finlay to Parliament later this year.
A regular visitor to Palgrave Primary School, Dr Dan enjoyed meeting with staff, pupils and Governors when he dropped in for a visit on Friday 11th May.
Dr Dan met with a group of pupils who were very keen to learn more about his work as an MP and how he can help people in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.
The enthusiastic group had clearly done their homework and put a range of well-considered questions to Dr Dan. Dr Dan said "It's always encouraging to see younger students so engaged with politics, especially coming up with their own ideas and putting forward their own views."
Visits such as these are important in strengthening the link between what Dr Dan does as an MP locally and how he can make sure that the voice of our communities here in Suffolk are heard in Parliament.
On Friday 11th May, Dr Dan was pleased to visit local business, C & K Meats to congratulate them on their recent success in being awarded with the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise for International Trade.
A regular visitor to the company, Dr Dan enjoyed catching up once more with owners Chris and Kevin Burrows, who started the company in 1994 and now employ over 100 people at the site in Eye, Suffolk.
Dr Dan learned how C & K Meats identified an opportunity to promote British meat to discerning markets overseas and this has seen their business grow dramatically. The company started exporting its high-end products around three years ago and they now export as far afield as Singapore, Dubai, Oman, Uganda and the Philippines, as well as to closer afield in Europe.
Dr Dan was delighted to congratulate Chris and Kevin and wished them every success with their expanding enterprise.
Working to secure better mental health services for patients and their families in Norfolk and Suffolk, Dr Dan secured an urgent debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday 2nd May, calling on the Government to provide greater support for mental health funding across Norfolk and Suffolk.
In securing the debate, Dr Dan specifically raised awareness of the challenges faced by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust directly with the Minister and he was delighted that in responding to the debate, the Minister was both receptive and sympathetic, encouraging the Trust to submit a bid for further funding.
Working to secure better mental health services for patients and their families in Norfolk and Suffolk, Dr Dan has secured an urgent debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday 2nd May, calling on the Government to provide greater support for mental health funding across Norfolk and Suffolk.
As someone who works in the NHS as a mental health doctor, Dr Dan has first-hand experience of the challenges faced by staff and patients on a daily basis. This is why he has called for an urgent debate, pressing the Government for greater support in making improvements to local patient services in Norfolk and Suffolk in order to deliver high quality mental health services, and to ensure that sufficient staff are trained and recruited to both medical and nursing roles. Dr Dan will also be highlighting the need for greater communication between the NHS and local councils to ensure closer working and enhanced delivery of services for patients, particularly for those with complex care needs.
Mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk have been under-funded for decades and many of the challenges faced by the Trust are compounded by that lack of funding. Extra money which has been allocated by the Government specifically for mental health services has been redirected into local councils and the acute physical health sector to help overcrowded A&E departments attempt to meet their waiting targets. This has been to the detriment of the provision of mental health services in the area.
Despite its best efforts, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has also been hampered by worsening recruitment problems. Capacity to recruit trained professionals in the East of England is particularly challenging, compared to the rest of the country. The East of England has the lowest number of Consultant Psychiatrists per head of population, compared to anywhere else in England. It is incredibly difficult to transform and improve quality of care without a qualified workforce to deliver it.
Dr Dan is a longstanding supporter of the Trust and although there are current issues with lack of capacity and staffing difficulties, he believes that with further support from the Government, the team at the Trust can make improvements for the benefit of patients.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Dr Dan said "I am delighted to have secured this important debate in the House of Commons to highlight the challenges currently faced by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and the patients that it cares for. I am hopeful that with Government backing, the Trust can transform services and deliver the high quality mental health services that local patients and their families need and deserve."
He continued "I also want to see greater joined up thinking and communications between the NHS and our local councils and the Police, which will help to deliver financial savings that can be put straight back into frontline patient care, whilst at the same time also improving outcomes for patients and their families here in Suffolk."
Here in Suffolk, we are incredibly lucky to live in such a beautiful county; our natural environment is second to none and plays a vital role in supporting Suffolk's booming tourism economy. Sustainable tourism is essential in protecting our natural landscapes and Dr Dan was pleased to visit the River Gipping Trust, to hear about the important work they are doing to manage and improve the River Gipping.
The Trust was granted charitable status in May 2007 and since then, they have been working to promote and develop the natural environment of the Gipping Valley, including maintaining and improving the navigation of the River Gipping and developing and promoting recreational opportunities along the River.
Dr Dan was looking forward to a trip along the River to see the important work being undertaken by the Trust, but unfortunately the seasonal April showers prevented this from taking place. Instead Dr Dan very much enjoyed speaking to some of the team and he is looking forward to making a return visit during the summer months.
Recognising the important role that small and medium businesses play in supporting Suffolk's thriving economy, Dr Dan is always happy to support businesses here in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. On Friday 27th April, Dr Dan was delighted to visit local specialist engineering firm, Boardley and Roberts in Great Blakenham.
Established in 1921, Boardley and Roberts has built a reputation for consistently high standards and expertise and Dr Dan was delighted to be shown around by Mr Richard Boardley, who was also joined by an apprentice from nearby Claydon High School. Building links with local schools helps to ensure that Suffolk's young people have access to skills training and apprenticeships, creating a skilled workforce for the future and creating local jobs here in Suffolk.
A group of students from Kesgrave High School enjoyed a lively and enthusiastic Question and Answer session with Dr Dan on Friday 27th April, when he dropped in to visit the school.
Following a meeting with the Head, Dr Dan then took to the floor where he was put through his political paces by the group of sixth form students. Having clearly done their homework, the students took the opportunity to quiz Dr Dan on a wide range of local and national issues, and it goes without saying that the topic of Brexit featured highly, particularly in relation to local impact here in Suffolk. There was lively debate amongst the students, on both sides of the debate and aside from Brexit, there was also wider discussion around democracy and voting rights, drugs policy reform, foreign affairs and the conflict in Syria, health and social care funding and education. As part of the discussion Dr Dan was also happy to share his experiences of balancing work as an MP with that of being a part-time NHS doctor.
With such an enthusiastic group of students, Dr Dan's visit was considerably extended to accommodate as many questions as possible – even after the session had drawn to an end, a number of students were keen to catch Dr Dan before he left to squeeze in any further last minute or supplementary questions. Visits such as these really help to strengthen the link between what Dr Dan does as an MP locally here in Suffolk and what he does in Parliament, but they are especially important in engaging and enthusing our next generation of voters and decision makers.
Following the visit, Dr Dan said "It was fantastic to return to Kesgrave High School and to see first-hand the excellent work and progress continuing at the school. It was especially heartening to meet and talk with a group of such happy and motivated students and they were definitely a tough audience – I'd like to commend each and every one of the students who took part in the session. They had clearly put a lot of effort and research into their questions, and sessions such as these are so important for hearing the views of our young people and next generation of voters."
Dairy products were to the fore last week, when Dr Dan visited one of Suffolk's excellent small businesses.
'Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses' is a family-run business, situated just north of Needham Market, and established in 2004 by Jason and Katharine Salisbury.
The couple have built up their own herd of over 50 pedigree Guernseys, from which they produce fine, hand-made cheese, using traditional methods.
The business has grown a lot since its inception and now employs an apprentice at the farm, where they also make other dairy products and rear their own beef and pork.
On his visit, Dr Dan learned a great deal about their business and the working methods employed, commenting:
"It is so heartening to see a small, rural business like this thriving in Suffolk, and producing food of such quality. Jason and Katharine have put in such tremendous work over the last 10 to 15 years, and deserve the success they are getting. Just as impressive was the quality of the cheese, whch was extremely tasty."
Pupils at Creeting St Mary Primary School got a first-hand lesson in Parliamentary democracy last week, when Dr Dan popped in for a visit.
Dan spoke to pupils in years 5 and 6 about his work as an MP and received a warm and interested welcome from children and teachers.
Five years ago, Dr Dan helped the school secure the necessary funding for an extension – allowing it to expand to house an extra classroom.
This has been put to good use, with Ofsted, in their most recent inspection, rating the school as 'Good' and commenting that the school's motto, 'Anything is possible', was demonstrated throughout the school.
Talking about the visit, Dan said:
"It was really heartening to go back to the school and see the good work being done there, and to meet and talk to a group of happy, motivated pupils.
"As so often tends to be the case, children ask some of the toughest questions. I think I got through it ok though!"
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ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment (15 May 2018)
Daniel Poulter: The Minister is absolutely right to highlight the issue of data, or the lack of it. In the interests of parity of esteem, is it also worth looking at introducing access targets in mental health for access to child and adolescent mental health services, which do a lot of the assessment of people with ADHD? Would that help drive better data collection in the NHS? Measuring against a target,...
ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment (15 May 2018)
Daniel Poulter: I did not intend to come across as discriminatory in the point that I made; it is CAMHS professionals—mental health professionals—who tend to do the assessments for ADHD in children. What is the Minister going to do about the recruitment crisis in CAMHS? Without those CAMHS professionals, we shall not be able to provide the diagnosis and delivery of care.