The need for care

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In her latest comment for Rye News, Sally-Ann Hart, MP for Hastings and Rye, expresses her concerns about care and carers.

I am writing this piece for Rye News during the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.

Alongside the various main stage speeches by ministers, there are many fringe events – the panel debates and roundtable discussions on policy and areas of opportunity, as well as current issues. As usual, I focused on these fringe meetings, as I find them incredibly interesting and useful in discussing and formulating policy and establishing contacts, particularly with interest groups who work with MPs to further mutual goals.

This year, I was delighted to meet up with Marie Curie to learn more about the need for palliative care in Hastings and Rye and the increase in provision we will need in future years.

Whilst Marie Curie do not take a stance on assisted dying, I really value the organisation’s input into the need for more provision and government support for palliative care. As one of the MPs who has campaigned for better provision, I was delighted when Sajid Javid, the former Health Secretary, announced earlier this year the legal right to palliative care. This was an amendment to the Health and Care Act which declares, for the first time, a duty for the NHS to ensure that anyone, anywhere in England, can receive specialist palliative care.

I am an active member for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dying Well, a group which promotes the right to excellent end of life care and stands against the legalisation of suicide. Like many, we want to see the best support available for those people that are nearing the end of their lives as well as their families, and excellent palliative care – support for people physically, mentally and spiritually – remains the most appropriate and ethical means of doing this.

Caring Altogether in Rother

I also am aware of loneliness especially amongst older residents and carers. I am meeting up next week with a new organisation, Caring Altogether in Rother (CAiR), to find out more about the local service it provides. I know that Rye News has written about this new organisation, and I look forward to hearing all about it.

Due to my personal interest in the role and difficulties of carers, I made sure that I took the opportunity of meeting up with Carers UK in Birmingham too. This organisation helps make life better for carers, of which there are around 6.5 million across the UK, and they may care for a loved one for short or long periods of time. Every day, 6,000 people become carers – many needing to leave work or reduce their hours in order to look after their loved one. Most carers are unpaid, juggling work and family life, or even elderly themselves. Many are stretched not only as regards the demands on their time, but also financially.

Carers often feel lonely and isolated but there is help and support available and Carers UK are there to provide just that. I have been asked to support their new campaign for better financial support for carers, which I am happy to do. The Carers Allowance is the main welfare benefit to carers currently £67.70 per week (subject to conditions). However, with cost of living increases we must ensure that carers do not fall through the net. As regards carers rights, it is worth noting Carers Rights Day on November 24, which aims to highlight the role of carers, raise awareness of their needs, let carers know where to get help and support and to ensure that carers are aware of their rights.

Carers UK also thanked me for my support for the Carers Leave Private Members Bill, which had its Second Reading in Parliament postponed due to the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth. I had written my speech for this debate but cannot now attend due to a very good reason – The new debate is on Friday, October 21 – the day on which I am hosting a Seniors Fair in Rye at the Community Centre, Conduit Hill, 2pm to 4pm. Please do pop along or, if not appropriate for you, encourage others to do so.

Image Credits: Chris Lawson , Chris Pollard .

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