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Kim Johnson MP visits The City of Liverpool College

KIM Johnson, MP for Liverpool Riverside, visited The City of Liverpool College to view 1st hand its state of the artfacilities and discuss the critical role that the College plays in the Liverpool City Region.

Attending the Vauxhall Road campus on Thursday, 5 January 2023, Kim met with the College's Student Union President El-Dana Ahmed, Vice President Zahraa Khalid and staff to find out more about how the Further Education provider is equipping young people with the skills and experience to thrive when entering the workforce.

Since summer 2020, the College has invested over £2m on its Vauxhall facilities to ensure students have access to industry-standard equipment and has worked in partnership with leading employers across the Region and beyond to develop its curriculum with the aim to increase student's chances of success poststudy.

Ms Johnson was shown around many of the campus' industry praised workshops, including its:- Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump (RACHP) Engineering classrooms, and its recently refurbished Heating and Hot Water workshops.

Talking to students and staff, Ms Johnson was clear on the importance of technical education to the City Region's economy, and the crucial role it can play in tackling poverty and deprivation. She also met with several learners who are enrolled onto courses and apprenticeships in the construction, engineering and green tech sectors, many of which have already secured positions for post-study and work experience due to the College's links with local business.

During the visit, the Labour MP spoke with El-Dana and Zahraa about how the College is supporting its community through times of hardship, the main issues students are encountering as the country continues to struggle through the cost-of-living crisis, and the Government's plans to abolish many vocational courses by 2024.

The Students' Union representatives discussed the increased usage of the free:- 'hygiene banks,' which were introduced last year funded solely by the Student Union's fund as a response to the growing cost of essential toiletries. The President and VP also spoke with Ms Johnson about the growing concerns, amidst Government plans for educational reform, around course offerings and access to vocational courses, particularly for students entering the College without GCSEs.

In 2022 it was announced that many technical qualifications would have Government funding withdrawn to pave the way for T Levels, the new technical equivalent to A Levels which combine classroom learning with industry work placements. Whilst colleges such as COLC have welcomed T Levels as a valuable addition to the range of further education pathways on offer to young people, many educators have expressed concern at the gap that would be left should all other vocational qualifications, such as the hugely popular BTECs and NVQs, be removed without 1st ensuring T Level equivalents across all subject areas.

At a time when educating the Region's future workforce is arguably more Important than ever, COLC and Ms Johnson are among many who feel strongly that the value of technical, vocational and professional courses cannot be underestimated.

Turning disadvantage to advantage and providing equal opportunities for all to succeed forms 1 of the COLC's primary strategic missions. The educator is putting substantial weight behind supporting its students to enhance their opportunities. Working with Ms Johnson, the College is eager to continue addressing the issues impacting the LCR and advocating for positive change not only for students, but the people of the communities it serves.

Kim Johnson, MP for Liverpool, Riverside, said:- "It was lovely to visit The City of Liverpool College's Vauxhall site this month. During my visit, I had wonderful discussions with the President and Vice President for the College's Student Union, as well toured the excellent facilities of the campus. It was brilliant to see a growing female presence in the form of both staff and students across the College's engineering, joinery and car mechanic subjects. I look forward to working with the College in the future and finding ways we can support and enhance the lives of our Region's people, together."

El-Dana Ahmed, Student Union President at The City of Liverpool College, said:- "I was delighted to be given the opportunity to sit down with Kim Johnson during her visit and discuss the role of our Student Union and ways we can work together to enhance learner's experience. It was insightful to learn Ms Johnson shared the view of thousands of students with regard to the Government's plan to cut many vocational courses and is currently campaigning against this motion; something we are also doing at the College. Events like this are the reason I am proud to be leading our College's Student Union; where we can sit down with local representatives and talk about how we can action change together, working towards a fairer and united Region and education system."

Elaine Bowker, Principal at The City of Liverpool College, said:- "It was a pleasure to welcome Kim Johnson to The City of Liverpool College and showcase our fantastic facilities, as well as the range of vocational courses we deliver to learners. The various pathways we offer are helping produce the talent needed to fill essential skills gaps and offer an avenue for everyone - regardless of entry qualifications - a door into education and upskilling. Providing all students, no matter their background or age, with the opportunity to develop their technical and professional skills, through high-quality qualifications, is essential to helping them achieve their full potential. It was also a great opportunity for us to learn how we could work together to address the various issues currently impacting the City Region, and how we can ultimately support our communities as we all face these unprecedented times."

To find out more about The City of Liverpool College, visit:- Liv-Coll.AC.UK.

Health and Social Care Secretary visits Healthcare Services in Blackpool

THE Health and Social Care secretary visited Blackpool and the North West, on Thursday, 19 January 2023, to see 1st hand how health and care services across Blackpool are improving patient care and working to reduce pressure on A&E services.

He visited the same day emergency care centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, a mobile bowel cancer screening unit in a car park at Blackpool Sports Centre that is helping to reduce waiting times, a new ambulance station with improved services for staff, and a rehabilitation centre featuring a fully equipped gym to help speed up discharging medically fit patients from Hospital.

It follows urgent action from the Government to improve access to emergency care, with an additional £200 million to help prevent delays in getting healthy people out of Hospital and free up Hospital capacity by booking thousands of extra beds in care homes and other settings, over £6.5 million of which has already been allocated to the healthcare system in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

The NHS is also creating the equivalent of 7,000 more beds through innovations like virtual wards and investing £50 million to expand capacity in emergency departments through new discharge lounges and ambulance hubs.

This is on top of the £500 million announced last year to speed up Hospital discharge and boost the adult social care workforce.

As announced in the Autumn Statement, the Government will soon publish full recovery plans for urgent and emergency care and primary care, including plans to reduce ambulance response times and A&E waiting times, backed by up to £14.1 billion of health and social care funding available for the next 2 years, on top of record funding.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:- "During my visits to 4 healthcare facilities in Blackpool today, I have seen some of the brilliant innovation happening in our NHS to reduce pressure on A&E departments, improve patient care and support staff. This includes work in rehabilitation and same-day emergency care services to reduce Hospital admissions and get medically fit patients discharged from wards quicker. I know that our NHS, like many healthcare systems across Europe and beyond, is facing huge challenges this winter due to rises in flu, Covid and the treatment backlogs left by the Pandemic. We want to do all we can to strengthen frontline services. In the coming weeks, the NHS will set out a plan for improving urgent and emergency care services."

While visiting the Blackpool Victoria Hospital, the Health and Social Care Secretary toured the same day emergency care and critical care facilities which treat up to 60 patients a day. Same day units allow patients to be rapidly assessed, diagnosed and treated without being admitted to a ward, and if clinically safe to do so, will go home the same day their care is provided, freeing up Hospital beds and speeding up care for patients.

Ten% of beds in the area (NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB) were occupied by patients who are ready to be discharged, compared to 14.5% nationally in the week ending 8 January 2023.

He then travelled to a mobile screening unit in a car park at Blackpool Sports Centre, which is screening people for bowel cancer. Nationally, around 10% of cancer cases are diagnosed at easy to access units like these, screening hundreds of patients a day to catch cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat. This unit means more people can get checked for cancer closer to home and has so far seen over 300 people for checks, with a nearly 90% patient satisfaction rate.

Separately, the Government has made available an additional £10 million to deliver 29 new breast cancer screening units and nearly 70 life-saving upgrades to services to speed up diagnosis and treatment to better detect cancer using new and improved software.

The Secretary of State then visited Blackpool Ambulance Station where facilities for Paramedics and Ambulance staff include:- a gym, refreshment areas for staff, changing rooms, and training and meeting rooms. The station's wellbeing support is a good example of the Government's shared interest in making the health service better; not just for patients, but also for staff.

Finally, he toured an Assessment and Rehabilitation Centre (ARC), a partnership between Blackpool Council and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals to provide joined up rehabilitative care and support to 33 people. This is helping to speed up discharge so patients don't need to remain in Hospital longer than necessary as well as prevent admissions and relieve pressure on emergency care. The centre also provides ongoing care linked with the community reablement team to ensure patients continue their rehabilitative journey once they return home.

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