Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP

Member of Parliament for Streatham (and parts of Balham, Clapham Common, Tulse Hill and Brixton Hill)
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Clapham & Brixton Hill

Constituency Newsletter – 26th April 2024

Apr 26, 2024 | News

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Bell’s Newsletter

26th April 2024

Dear *|FNAME|*,

This week, the Tories were busy celebrating the passage of their Rwanda Bill. They act as if people seeking safety in the UK is the biggest issue facing our country. But sending refugees away to Rwanda doesn’t take us a single step closer to tackling record NHS waiting lists, building the council homes we need, or properly funding our education system. It just provides cover for the Tories to continue failing on these things.

Five people, including a child, died attempting to cross the Channel just hours after the Tories passed their Rwanda Bill. Deporting people to countries with questionable human rights records isn’t going to stop them making these journeys. We need safe routes and an immigration system that foregrounds compassion and humanity.

The UN has been clear that any airline involved in forcibly removing people to Rwanda could be complicit in human rights violations. We need to make it clear that any airline involved in this scheme will face irremediable reputational damage and the threat of boycotts from the majority who oppose this scheme. AirTanker has reportedly been in talks with the government about this contract. If you feel outraged by this cruel and costly scheme, write to them to make sure they get the message.

Write to AirTanker now

Opposing the Privatisation of our Local Dialysis Clinic 

Opposing the Privatisation of Local NHS Services (23rd April 2024)

This month, I was drawn for a Health and Social Care Question. I used this opportunity to press the government about plans to privatise the Camberwell Dialysis Unit. Local kidney patients first drew my attention to this and are understandably worried about it. 

They rightly point out that this decision is leading to the loss of experienced dialysis practitioners who are opting to be absorbed into other roles in the trust rather than risking their future working terms and conditions. Patients are adamant that this should remain an NHS provision, run by NHS dialysis nurses. 

The creeping privatisation of our NHS has already had a disastrous impact on patient care. The multinational that is taking over these services has already had one UK clinic put into special measures, after the Care Quality Commission found it risked disease transmission by not keeping dialysis lines clean. I urged the government to maintain our NHS dialysis provision. 

Renters’ Reform Bill

The Renters’ Reform Bill was back in Parliament on Wednesday for its second reading. When this legislation was first published, it offered some genuine solutions to the dire, including the long-overdue ban on no fault evictions. Sadly, the Tories have gutted it at the behest of their landlord backbenchers, tabling hundreds of new amendments. In its new form, this bill leaves renters exposed to unfair evictions, runaway rent rises and substandard housing conditions.

In the five years since the Tories promised to ban them, more than 500 renters have been served with Section 21 notices every single day! As well as failing to set an end date on no fault evictions, the Tories have failed to give councils resources and enforcement guidance and have failed to stop backdoor evictions through above-inflation rent increases. Everyone deserves to live in a decent, secure and affordable home but this bill takes us no closer to achieving this for renters.

Hospice Care 

Speaking up for Better Hospice Funding (22nd April 2024)

On Wednesday, I spoke in a backbench business debate on hospice funding, where I urged the government to increase NHS funding for hospice care. I cited the specific example of Royal Trinity Hospice, just outside the constituency, which is the UK’s oldest hospice.

Staff and volunteers at Royal Trinity work so hard to support people at the end of their lives. Yet at a time of rising demand, their costs will increase by 20% next year whilst the NHS funding they receive is set to fall in real terms. We have to find a way of increasing the resources available to carry out this essential work.

APPG Afrikan Reparations Meeting

Bell listening to Justin Hansford speak. Both are sat among a panel of other speakers, in front of a packed out audience with someone in every seat.

It was an honour to host Professor Justin Hansford to discuss an array of pressing issues concerning reparative justice for the Black community. The origin of the word reparations comes from the word repair. Repairing the Black community from the ongoing trauma and suffering that started many generations ago will take more than a lump sum.  

Professor Hansford pointed out that reparations are not a one-time payment to bail out Black people and apologise for past harm but a recognition of the harm a race-based and racially stratified society has done to everyone. Reparations is the repair of our society as a whole and not just the Black community and that should be the real focus of debate and active change. There is a lot of work to be done but glad these conversations are gaining traction, and we are on the way to real progress on this issue.  

Marking Black Maternal Health Awareness Week with the Black Maternal Health APPG

Bell standing with seven other women including representatives from Bliss Charity, FiveXMore, Pregnancy Sickness Support, and Birth Trauma Association. They are standing in front of a banner that says APPG on Black Maternal Health and behind a roundtable.

On Wednesday, I hosted campaigners, health professionals and birth practitioners in Parliament this month in recognition of Black Maternal Health Awareness Week. Black women remain four times more likely to die in pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.  This week is a reminder that action is needed to address the inequalities Black women face at every stage of the birthing journey.  

It was deeply upsetting to hear several women recount their lived experiences of birth trauma and child loss. With growing awareness of the racism that impacts Black mothers’ health outcomes, we must keep working to turn this consciousness into better care. It is not enough for trusts to have conversations about what provisions to put in place to protect vulnerable women; now is the time for implementation. The problem is the government’s failure to put policy in place to operationalise the cultural change we have seen in the NHS to support Black mothers. We must do better.

Visting St George’s Maternity Services with the Birth Trauma Inquiry

Bell stands with five other women in a ward in St George's Hospital, behind them is a banner that reads 'Maternity Helpline'.

On Thursday morning, I joined members of the Birth Trauma Inquiry for a visit to St George’s Hospital. We toured the maternity unit to speak to staff about the issues they encounter on the job, many of which were all too familiar to me. Too many mothers and babies are not receiving the high standard of care they deserve, with two-thirds of maternity units in England deemed unsafe in the latest Care Quality Commission report. Sadly, traumatic birth experiences are becoming normalised in our healthcare system with mothers who are Black, Asian, or mixed race and women who live in deprived areas seeing particularly poor outcomes.

Maternity staff told me that attrition rates among more experienced maternity staff are having a particular impact. This not only heaps the pressure on their colleagues who do stay but also leaves us with fewer seasoned midwives to support new staff coming through. Staff also highlighted the increased numbers of complex births coming through the wards.

I have so much respect for staff, who are working so hard just to hold things together. When asked for one thing they would get politicians to address, they urged increased funding for mental health services, more investment in student nurses, standardised bereavement support across trusts, and support, investment, and respect for the maternity workforce. There is an urgent need for the government to listen to their workforce and address these issues and prioritise maternity care funding, with an increasing number of complex births and too many maternity services underperforming at present.

As ever, if you have any questions about the work I’m doing as MP, please get in touch at this address:

Best wishes,

Bell Ribeiro-Addy,
Labour MP for Streatham

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