An open letter to Angela Richardson MP regarding issues related to the coronavirus

April 16, 2020 11:20 AM
By Zoe Franklin

Pen and paper (Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash)

Today (16th April) I have written to local MP Angela Richardson raising three issues relating to the coronavirus outbreak. I am sharing a copy of the text of the letter below.

Update: I am grateful to Angela Richardson for her swift response to my questions and include these below the text of my letter.

Open Letter to Angela Richardson MP

Dear Angela

As we enter the fourth week of the coronavirus lock-down, I am writing this open letter to raise three key issues with you on behalf of the residents of Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages, issues that are being widely discussed online and no doubt in homes around our constituency too.

In normal circumstances these questions would be raised in the Houses of Parliament by parliamentary colleagues, however with Parliament not due to return until 21st April, and what that return will look like still unclear, I wanted to raise them directly given their importance to local people.

  1. On Tuesday, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggested that the coronavirus death toll in the UK may be 15% higher than daily NHS figures indicate due to deaths outside of hospitals not being included. Transparency is crucial in the fight against coronavirus so that all sectors involved in fighting it can make informed and effective decisions. It is also key to maintaining public trust and engagement with the stay home, stay safe message.
    On behalf of local people can we count on you to urge your government colleagues to immediately ensure that all those who die of coronavirus are counted, not just those who die in hospital?
  2. In recent government briefings ministers have seemed to place the blame for the lack of PPE on health workers, accusing those on the front line of using 'precious resources' when they are putting their lives on the line to save people, including the Prime Minister. Why is this the case when it is clear from the appeals for PPE from NHS and other health workers across the country on social media that there is insufficient PPE reaching them in the first place?
  3. Continuing on the issue of insufficient PPE resources, what are you doing to correct this situation for the hospitals, care homes and other healthcare settings across our constituency?

Finally, I ask you to support the cross-party call for the immediate virtual recall of Parliament. It is crucial that proper scrutiny and accountability is maintained throughout the coronavirus outbreak to ensure that we get through this as a nation as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Z Franklin signature
Regards
Zöe Franklin
Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Guildford, Cranleigh and our Villages

response

Dear Zoe,

Many thanks for writing to me on behalf of the residents of Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages.

I can assure you, on the basis of the increased amount of correspondence I have received from constituents over these many difficult weeks, they have been raising these issues and concerns to me directly too.

While Parliament has been in recess, your elected Liberal Democratic colleagues have been raising the issues you mention in your letter below, as well as many others concerns in a cross-party conference call hosted by Penny Mourdant, seven days a week, in her role as Paymaster General in the Cabinet Office. These have been helpful to all MPs, as many of the issues are nation-wide rather than always constituency specific.

MPs, regardless of party, have been writing into every Department and have been receiving responses from Ministers and Civil Servants. In my role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Education Ministers, my contact details have been made available cross-party as a conduit for concerns and I have been very happy to ensure colleagues from all parties have those concerns raised with the Ministerial team and have received replies.

Furthermore, Select Committees (which are cross-party) have been meeting virtually during recess and holding Government Ministers to account.

To answer your last point first and for the reasons laid out above, I am satisfied that Parliament returning on the 21st of April, by whichever means The Speaker and House Authorities determines best, will in no way prevent scrutiny of Government which has been carried out successfully over the last few weeks of Recess.

To answer your questions directly:

  1. All those who sadly die with Covid-19, whether they are in Hospital or elsewhere, are counted. In the community, those responsible for writing the death certificate must be certain of the cause of death and certain that Covid-19 is present, this is more difficult in the community. In Hospital, tests are able to be carried out on all patients presenting with symptoms and therefore the daily update is accurate. As you will no doubt know, it takes many days for a death certificate to be issued out in the community and there less certainty as to whether Covid-19 was present creating a lag, which is then picked up with the ONS figures, but to answer your direct question, all are counted.
  2. Regarding PPE and the conversations I've had with the excellent leadership in our local Hospital the issue that needed resolving quickly was guidance on the use of PPE. When the guidance was updated, our frontline services were able to respond quickly and effectively. Clearly there have been global difficulties in the supply chain for producing PPE at a time of great global demand and while sometimes wrinkles need ironing out at the beginning of a delivery system, we are fortunate that our armed forces stepped in to get PPE supplies moving across the country, to where the demand was highest and we now see supplies going into new areas of increasing demand through our Local Resilience Forums for our care workers and social workers. It has also been heartening to see our schools, Surrey University and business step in where they saw a need and work to supplement supplies in making and delivering additional PPE to the Royal Surrey. We can be proud of how fantastic and generous our community is.
  3. In terms of my role as your Member of Parliament, whenever I have been notified of a need for PPE or a concern over PPE (as well as other issues raised), I have fed those concerns directly into the Health and Social Care Department when it is related to the NHS and into the Housing, Communities and Local Government Department when the need has been in the Community and deliverable through the Surrey Local Resilience Forum. I have received swift responses from both Departments. I have regular contact with our frontline leaders and our council leaders and there is an excellent constructive response by all to the difficult situation we find ourselves in. It has been helpful to see party politics put to one side with positive cooperation, as all acknowledge how difficult and devastating the Covid-19 pandemic has been to not only the UK, but to our global friends and neighbours.

Be assured that I and my small team are working continually on behalf of the residents of Guildford, Cranleigh and our Villages during this difficult time.

I wish you and your family good health.

With best wishes,

Angela Richardson MP

Member of Parliament for Guildford
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA