MP’s Column

Mencap is a UK charity supporting people with learning disabilities, their families and carers, including a number of people in the Penzance area. I was delighted to attend the launch of their Treat Me Well campaign in Truro last week which aims to change the way people with learning disabilities are treated in the NHS.

1,200 people with a learning disability die avoidably in hospital each year and the evidence shows that the treatment people with a learning disability varies across the country.

People with learning disabilities need support and reasonable adjustments to make the process easier to understand and get the healthcare they need. The good news is that NHS managers and the Care Quality Commission agree that sorting out healthcare for people with a learning disability is very important and work is being done to make things better. This includes a plan by Health Education England to train healthcare staff about learning disability and improve the way people communicate with vulnerable people both in writing and in person.

Currently only half of hospital trusts include some information on learning disability for new staff and not all universities include this when training doctors and nurses.

The Treat Me Well campaign aims to improve training, encourage every healthcare provider to work and plan together and develop strong leadership in the NHS in support of people with learning disabilities. Disabilities Minister and Truro MP Sarah Newton, spoke at the launch about work the Government and the NHS is doing to create employment opportunities within the NHS. This will help create the culture needed to ensure no one misses out. Find out more about the campaign at

I understand the Steamship Company’s desire to add a helicopter service to the services they currently provide. This is a commercial matter and entirely up to them. However, my plea is that they apply the same enthusiasm and energy to improving the current operation.

The passenger vessel is not able to operate at capacity and, if the company hope to continue as the sole provider of a sea-going passenger service, the Scillonian III needs replacing.

The company has two freight vessels; both seem to suffering something of an identity crisis.

This is harming investment on Scillies as business owners wait to see whether the service is able to meet their plans for expansion.

Finaly, passengers not able to afford the helicopter but planning to fly from Land’s End or St Mary’s need to be confident that there will be enough capacity on the planes to meet their travel demands. Whilst the vast majority of journeys to and from Scilly are tourism related many travel due to health, education or business reasons (to name just a few). The Steamship Company, as the only operator, is privileged with providing this service. With this comes responsibilities. Whatever plans the company has, it must ensure its existing operation is as good as it can be. I know that Ministers in the Department of Transport, the Council on Scilly and all those who rely on transport to and from Scilly agree.