MP's column

On Monday Government introduced the NHS Funding Bill which sets out the funding settlement for the NHS. The Bill commits to an increase of £33.9bn by 2024 in real cash terms and I was pleased to contribute to the debate. Committing to funding in this way gives NHS providers confidence and certainty to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan. With the time available I argued for the Department of Health to investigate two areas where I believe people are being failed by the current provision. Autism diagnosis and care and access to dental treatment. There is an urgent need for timely diagnosis and appropriate care and support for children who have autism. The NHS Ten Year Plan commits to accelerating the process to securing a diagnosis and providing the therapy and support needed and I called for an update regarding what progress is being made. Too many parents battle to access Children’s and Adolescents Mental Health Services (CAMHS). It is also apparent that too many people fail in their search for an NHS dentist. I urged the Government to take a close look at NHS dentistry in Cornwall and find ways to deliver the dentists we need! Over half of adults have not been to an NHS dentist in the past two years and over 40% of children have not had an appointment with an NHS dentist in the past year. This is worrying and risks storing up serious dental problems for the future. Children are more likely to take better care of their teeth if they have a regular dental appointment from a very young age. I am acutely aware of the difficulty people face in finding a dental appointment and, despite considerable work, no real progress is being made. It is time for the Department of Health to step in and find a way through.

For the record (and because it suits opponents for people to think otherwise) I, nor any other Member of Parliament voted against refugee children being allowed into this country. Government policy is to take unaccompanied children into the UK if they have family here and it is in their best interest. The UK has accepted in excess of 34,000 unaccompanied children in very recent years (more than any other individual EU member state). This will not change.

Last year both St Ives and Penzance were informed that the towns could submit proposals to secure up to £25m each via the Government’s Towns Fund. To identify the suitable projects for submission a Towns Fund Board is being set up for each town. Any member of the public can express an interest in joining the Towns Fund Board to be a community representative. The Towns Fund Board consists of representatives from various different sectors. Private, community and voluntary sector representatives will make up more than 50% of the Board’s membership. To find out more and to express an interest please email me (derek.thomas.mp@parliament.uk) and I will ensure you are put in contact with the appropriate person to receive your expression of interest.