Herald Column: May 21

Thank you to all those who have been sending me their nominations for my Coronavirus Community Champion Award. I have received some very impressive entries so far for individuals, businesses, organisations and even whole families. I will start to announce the first batch of awards next week so please keep your suggestions coming.

This week the virtual House of Commons passed the initial stages of the Immigration and Social Security Coordination Bill. The legislation effectively ends freedom of movement from the EU, enabling the UK Government to make our own immigration policy from January next year and giving effect to one of the main undertakings of the Brexit referendum.

We are also scrutinising the Trade Bill which enables us to implement our own trade deals with countries around the globe after the end of the transition period due at the end of this year. In tandem the Government this week also announced the new UK Global Tariff scheme which replaces the EU tariffs which have bound us since 1973.  The government is streamlining and simplifying over 7,000 tariff lines and lowering costs for businesses and consumers.

We are getting rid of needless tariffs which create administrative burdens. For example, all tariffs below 2% are abolished which applies to all sorts of items like fire extinguishers, school pencils and gardening tools, currently effectively taxed at 1.7%.

From my conference calls with local health managers it is clear that too many people are still avoiding presenting at hospital when they have serious health problems. Attendance figures for Worthing Hospital A&E are down by around 50% on normal times and the ambulance service is reporting far fewer call outs too. Whilst some of this can be attributed to fewer casualties linked to less traffic on the roads and the absence of ‘pub brawls’ many people suffering mild strokes or heart attacks are deciding not to call for help either because they fear catching Coronavirus or they do not want to trouble the NHS.

Yet this risks people suffering irreparable damage and presenting later on with far worse conditions. Worthing Hospital has been divided into green and red zones, so you need never come into contact with areas where there have been COVID patients. In any case one of the reasons that Worthing became the most outstanding acute hospital in the country was its relentless driving down of hospital infection rates. With bed occupancy below 60% and COVID19 patients halving by the week Worthing Hospital is very much open for business and people need to use it.

The hospital will be prioritising cancer patients who have had treatment delayed; important diagnostics and long wait elective surgery so don’t think twice. And during this Mental Health Awareness Week which has no doubt more relevance during this crisis than ever, it is always better to talk to someone than bottle it up. For more information please my special ‘Adur and Worthing Mental Help’ website: www.timloughton.com/campaigns/adur-and-worthing-mental-help-website