Concerning news today about the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant of concern. It's been named the Nu variant and it's first been identified in South Africa and other nearby countries. It has prompted the Government to reintroduce flight bans from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. See here for further details.
I asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid MP, whether there are any early indications about the variant's impact on children (see here). It is still too early to tell but the Government has said it will share information as soon as it has it.
The Health and Care Bill returned to the House of Commons this week and I urged the Government to get a grip on the NHS staffing shortage. Already there is a shortage of 40,000 NHS nurses and 7,000 NHS doctors. I supported an amendment that would have required NHS England and Health Education England to prepare an independent forecast of the number of doctors and nurses we should be training based on the NHS’ needs. I'm disappointed the Government defeated this initiative.
The Public Accounts Committee revisited the issue of Brexit and its impact on the border. I raised the impact of the new burdensome red tape that is now required for Hackney businesses exporting into the EU. What we are seeing is far from the new opportunities the Government promised. It is vital the Government steps up and works with businesses impacted by these changes. I will continue working with the relevant ministers as well as my colleagues on the Labour frontbench to highlight these issues.
And I was delighted to attend the official opening of the City of London Academy, Shoreditch Park. See my round-up for further details.
Please don't forget COVID-19 rates are still very high in Hackney. If you are eligible for a booster vaccine, please take it up. Find out further information and book here.