CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Eastbourne on course to meet booster jab target

The nights are drawing in and the weather has finally turned colder as we approach the festive season.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 1:41 pm

I joined a whole host of lovely people at my first Christmas Fair last weekend at Christ Church, Seaside. There were fantastic raffle prizes to support their fundraising programme thanks to the huge generosity of local businesses. I met many old friends and even my midwife from 20 years ago!

Local businesses need us too and buying gifts locally will help our retailers recover from the pandemic. Small Business Saturday is coming up on December 4 and I hope everyone will get involved.

Our local health leaders are set to meet the ambition to provide the booster jabs to 80 per cent of those eligible by December 19.

Initial take-up was slow and so walk-in capacity was created to optimise the operation of the vaccine site; in more recent weeks, there has been a surge in requests for appointments. I am in close communication with the NHS and have called in any delays or diverts people have experienced. The operating model has now been recalibrated and more appointments will come on-stream. Home visits are now also being prioritised.

It is quite a mission and our vaccine rollout has been a huge success. News of a fourth wave from the continent is a worry and we cannot be complacent, but we have vaccinated the population comprehensively and that work continues.

Those families caught up in today’s system of almost unlimited social care costs will see the proposals in the Government’s Health and Care Bill this week as a significant step forward. Its introduction starts the parliamentary process where the Bill will be amended and improved over the incoming months. There is also an important impact assessment to come before any final vote next year. Some aspects are immediately welcome like raising the threshold above which people must meet the full cost of their care from £23,000 to £100,000—more than four times the current limit. It would also be fair to say that other aspects of the Bill require much closer scrutiny. Successive governments have not delivered, this government is taking it on.

Beyond work on funding formulas, there are other serious issues to address too - how do we attract and develop those in the care workforce?

Thinking of unpaid carers too, often family members, this week also hosts Carers’ Rights Day and I would like to pay tribute to the team, volunteers and fundraisers of our local charity Care for the Carers. They do sterling work supporting carers in our town by bringing carers together in what can be a very isolating experience and signposting help in what can be a complex landscape to negotiate.

Carers UK see the Bill as an important opportunity to improve carers’ rights and so it is. I look forward to working with them.

Meantime, let’s make a special point of reaching out to friends today who are carers, a kind word can make a real difference. I was intrigued to learn, at Sussex’s 60th Birthday celebration this week, that there is a Professor of Kindness at the University!

Take care everyone.