On 17th October 2013, Independent Peer Lord Filkin led a take-note debate in the House of Lord on the Report of the Public Service and Demographic Change Committee ‘Ready for Ageing?’ The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in the debate, focusing his remarks on the important role civil society play in supporting the elderly. He also raised concerns about the language used to talk about the elderly and highlighted the very significant contribution played by older people in society.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, and his colleagues on the Select Committee for introducing such a comprehensive and expert report. I shall pursue the theme mentioned of the contribution of civil society.
My first point is about the language that we use and the signals that we give out. The noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, talked about the importance of a public debate. It is easy to use language such as “retirement”, which indicates something negative, about stopping and ceasing to contribute. In the diocese where I work, we have 200 clergy who are retired; 80% of them make an enormous contribution, not just filling in but front-line, active contribution to the life of the church. Some cultures use the word senior rather than the word ageing. We must be very careful how we frame the debate. I invite the Minister to comment on the language that we use and the signals that we give out, so that it is not about a problem of decline and desperation but celebrating life at different stages and in different ways. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby takes part in debate on demographic change in the UK”
On 10th October 2013, Baroness Knight of Collingtree askedHer Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to ensure that medical professionals offering to perform abortions on the grounds of gender are prosecuted. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, does not this case, and in particular the letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions, taken together with the overall fact that, I believe, nearly a quarter of recognised pregnancies are deliberately ended in the womb, call for a comprehensive review of the operation of the Act in its entirety?
Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I am certainly cognisant of the strong views that are held about this Act and its operation. One of the clear things emerging from this case is the great need to have clearer guidance for doctors on how to carry out their functions and the tests that are set down in Section 1 of the Abortion Act. I am confident that that will now be addressed. Certainly, the Crown Prosecution Service stands ready to assist in any way to provide that clarity.
On 9th September 2013, the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, received an answer to two written question on the Liverpool Care Pathway.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that quality statement six (holistic support—spiritual and religious) of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s 2011 quality standard for end of life care for adults is embedded in the end of life care proposals to replace the Liverpool Care Pathway.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Healthcare Chaplaincy is considered a “specialist service”, as referred to in recommendation 22 of the Independent Review of the Liverpool Care Pathway.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government’s intention is for the Liverpool Care Pathway to be phased out over the next 6-12 months in favour of an individual approach to end of life care for each patient, with a personalised care plan backed up by condition-specific guidance and a named senior clinician responsible for its implementation.
Spiritual and religious support is an essential part of first-class end of life care. However we have yet to set out the specific responses to the Independent Review’s recommendations. Over the coming weeks, the Department will be working with partner organisations, stakeholders and charities across health and care to inform a full system-wide response to the Review’s recommendations later in the autumn.
On 17th July 2013, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James took part in the debate on the Report Stage of the Mesothelioma Bill. The Bishop, recalling that the former Bishop of Peterborough Ian Cundy had suffered from Mesothelioma before his death in 2009, spoke in support of a group of amendments which sought to impose a levy to stimulate research. The Bishop argued that the proposed levy would stimulate more high-quality researchers to think that mesothelioma was a worthwhile and reliable area in which to have a sustained work programme. A division was called on Lord Alton’s amendment on research funding. More information can be found here.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, I support this group of amendments and I thank the Minister for his work, which was well illustrated at the beginning of this debate. I knew very little about mesothelioma until I saw its debilitating effects on friends, including the former Bishop of Peterborough, Ian Cundy, who some Members may recall died in 2009. The knowledge that the cause of this cancer has been lurking in one’s body for 20 years or more of active life may suggest in itself that more research into detection and treatment may prove valuable. There is nothing that can be done to rewrite someone’s life history, which may include often unwitting exposure to asbestos while young, but much can be done to promote research into a disease that will kill 2,400 people in the UK this year—the equivalent of wiping out one of Norfolk’s smaller market towns within 12 months. If that sort of tragedy happened it would be front page news but this passes us by too easily. Continue reading “Bishop of Norwich speaks in debate on Mesothelioma Bill”
On 16th July 2013 the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, received answers to two written questions, on the topics of elderly people and depression, and human trafficking.
Elderly People: Depression
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps are in place to ensure that the elderly are assessed routinely for depression during medical consultations.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): NHS England is completing the nationwide rollout of psychological therapy services for adults who have depression or anxiety disorders, and as part of this is paying particular attention to ensuring appropriate access for people over 65 years of age.
NHS England has recently funded an advertising campaign with Age UK to promote Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services for older people. The promotional campaign challenges views that depression is natural in older people and to encourage general practitioners to refer older people to IAPT services and older people themselves to self-refer.
Another strand of IAPT development is a project which aims to ensure that psychological therapies are routinely available to people with long term physical health conditions and medically unexplained symptoms. Given that many older people have such physical health conditions, this project will lead to them being encouraged to access IAPT services when necessary.