Valerie Co-sponsors bill on Children in Hospital for Extended Periods

I was one of the named co -sponsors of a Bill presented by Sir Oliver Heald MP on Tuesday 20 June 2023 which requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on the merits of providing financial support for parents of children receiving care in hospital for extended periods. 

Sir Oliver  said that his constituent Ceri Menai-Davis contacted him after the loss of his six-year-old son Hugh to a rare cancer on 18 September 2021. They had a terrible ordeal for more than 10 months, attending hospital and at times commuting daily, as they watched their son rapidly decline over a number of months in hospital from a sporty youngster to his sad passing. Mr and Mrs Menai-Davies had set up a charity called It’s Never You, which are the words that Mrs Menai-Davis said to her husband when they got the diagnosis. They wanted to help parents of very ill children in hospital with mental and physical support and to call for some financial help.

Through the charity parents or guardians of sick children benefit by connecting with a community of peers, finding support, including moral support, sharing experiences, and getting professionally sourced and reliable information via a social network. That is done not by the statutory authorities but through the Children’s Cancer Platform, which is the UK’s only platform built exclusively to support parents in this difficult situation. The charity has started to put wellbeing bags into hospitals such as Addenbrooke’s and Great Ormond Street; they are about to go into Oxford University Hospitals as well. The bags are well received. The charity is also present in Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds and many more places. It has partnered with several charities across the UK and aims to form an umbrella, whereby all relevant charities can be found in one place.

The aspect of this ten-minute rule Bill raised by Sir Oliver’s constituents is the financial impact on parents of having to spend months in hospital supporting sick young children. My constituent is self-employed, and it cost him a lot to put his child first. He was able to manage only because of his strong personal position economically, but he feared for others who were less fortunate and found themselves in the same position. He gave me examples of people his charity is helping.

These are the sponsors of the Bill : Sir Oliver Heald, Dr Caroline Johnson, Dame Margaret Beckett, Sir Robert Syms, Valerie Vaz, Sir Paul Beresford, Gareth Thomas, Mrs Flick Drummond, Clive Efford, Selaine Saxby, Stephen McPartland and Jackie Doyle-Price. 

The Bill was read the First time and will be read a Second time on Friday 24 November 2023. I was pleased to be able to support this important Bill.