Being pregnant is exciting, nerve-wracking and sometimes traumatic. The pandemic has been uniquely difficult for expectant mothers, and many of these difficulties should have stopped when the national lockdown ended, in particular the ban on having a partner or immediate family member at pregnancy scans and during all stages of labour. However, over two-thirds of NHS Trusts continue to deny pregnant women the support of a loved one. This is despite the Government lifting the national suspension on the 5th of June, and the Royal College of Midwives making it clear on the 15th of July that Trusts should review their maternity policies and that this was of vital importance.
That is why I launched a national campaign this week to make sure every Trust does right by pregnant women and their partners, and ensures women have support at all pregnancy scans and all stages of labour.
I’ve secured the backing of the Health Secretary Matt Hancock for my campaign who has called on all NHS Trusts to adopt Government guidance, as well as the Mail on Sunday who featured it as their front-page news story. As I write on Tuesday, at least five NHS Trusts have already announced they will change their procedures, including nearby United Lincolnshire NHS Trust. Locally to us, Leicester hospitals had already changed their protocols before I launched my campaign, but Peterborough continues to restrict the support women are able to receive.
I have been enormously lucky that my NHS Trust changed its procedures immediately when lockdown ended, so my husband attended both scans for our baby. But I lead this campaign because it is unjust that women in so much of the country do not have the same support from their loved ones, and to fight for the partners locked out of hospital rooms anxiously separated from those they love most in the world. In the last few days I have been heartbroken by the stories people have shared with me: a man who wrote to me while sat in his car outside the hospital while his wife had an operation alone following a miscarriage, a woman forced to deliver a stillborn alone, and women told the most devastating news, alone, in a hospital room. I am sorry for all those for whom my campaign comes too late, but I will fight until every NHS Trust gives families the support they deserve.
Over the last few weeks I have also been particularly focused on supporting our Government to wage a concerted and wide-reaching campaign against climate change, regardless of what Extinction Rebellion says otherwise.
The Government just this week introduced steps that will prevent big companies from importing commodities grown at the expense of forests – the first country in the world to do this. We introduced a landmark Environment Bill, which will encourage environmental stewardship, and our Agriculture Bill will reward farmers for all they do to protect our environment.
We are the first country in the world to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050, and we will phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2035. We are a world leader in clean growth - £92 billion has been invested by businesses in clean energy since 2010, and our renewable capacity has quadrupled since then.
And our efforts extend to the global stage. We have launched a £500 million blue planet fund to protect marine ecosystems, and our Blue Belt program will protect areas around the British Overseas Territories, which will start by ringfencing 4 million square kilometres of environmental zones. The Prime Minister has committed to doubling our international climate finance to £11.6 billion in a landmark speech at the United Nations last year. This is a Government leading the way on the climate, and it is wrong to suggest otherwise.
That makes Extinction Rebellion’s actions all the more unacceptable. They have blocked vital routes in London, and in cities across the UK. They even blocked routes to hospitals for ambulances last week. Their behaviour is unacceptable, particularly since this Government has taken such concerted and concrete steps to address this defining and complex challenge. That does not mean we should not do more, but there are productive ways to go about achieving change.
I am also thrilled to report that the Financial Conduct Authority has been successful at the High Court regarding insurance claims arising from COVID-19. I know many businesses throughout the constituency have written to me on this crucial issue for their livelihoods, and I am very pleased that the High Court sided strongly with the FCA. This will make it easier in many cases to make and win insurance claims. If you are a local business I would be more than happy to explain how this can help your business, please write to me and I will do all I can to support you.