John Robertson MP joins the ‘Nation of Lifesavers’ campaign to save 5,000 UK lives

~ Calls for secondary schools in Scotland to register for free innovative CPR training kit ~

John Robertson MP is urging people to join the campaign to dramatically increase the number of local people trained in life-saving CPR and help create a Nation of Lifesavers.

More than 30,0001 people suffer an out of hospital cardiac arrest in the UK every year – 80%2 of which occur in the home, often in front of family members and loved ones.

But fewer than one in ten people survive3, partly because not enough people have the skills and confidence to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland says that the Nation of Lifesavers initiative could save around 5,000 additional lives a year in the UK, based on survival rates in countries like Norway (25%)4 where CPR training is mandatory in schools.

BHF Scotland is calling for CPR and public access defibrillator (PAD) awareness to be taught in all local secondary schools and a recent survey showed 82%5 of people in the UK would be behind this move.

Since the launch of the campaign on October 16, more than 5,000 people have already signed the petition to make these skills part of the curriculum.

Today, John Robertson MP has pledged their support for the Nation of Lifesavers campaign and called on secondary schools and community groups in Glasgow North West to order their free Call Push Rescue Training Kit.

Mr Robertson said: “Cardiac arrest survival rates in Scotland fall way behind survival rates in other countries where CPR training is part of the curriculum.

“By joining the Nation of Lifesavers I want to see every child in Scotland finish school equipped with the necessary skills to respond in a medical emergency.

“CPR is an important skill and just 30 minutes of training could save someone’s life.”

John Robertson was joined by Samantha Hobbs, who at 14 helped to save her mum’s life by performing CPR. With her dad, they kept her mum alive until the emergency services arrived and could get her heart beating again with a single electric shock from a defibrillator.

Samantha had been trained in CPR so she knew what to do. Now she’s campaigning to raise awareness amongst others so that more people are trained and more lives can be saved.

Samantha said: “I was only able to help save my mum’s life because I’d been trained in CPR. I don’t know what might have happened if I hadn’t. We’re really pleased to be able to support the BHF’s Nation of Lifesavers campaign and spread the message about the importance of CPR. I hope more lives are saved.”

On October 16, BHF Scotland trained 100 schoolchildren at the launch of a new CPR training programme which is free for schools to register for at Lagan College, Belfast.

The innovative training programme enables schools, workplaces, and community groups to become completely self-sufficient in teaching the three simple steps that could save a life: Call. Push. Rescue.

Simon Gillespie, BHF Chief Executive, said: “Too many lives are lost needlessly because people don’t have the basic CPR skills to act in life-threatening situations.

“We’re determined to radically improve the country’s shocking survival rates and mandatory training in secondary schools will go a long way towards that.

“We need every school, workplace, community group and individual to join the Nation of Lifesavers and help make Scotland a safer place to live.”

To help BHF Scotland create a Nation of Lifesavers visit bhf.org.uk/lifesavers and sign the petition at bhf.org.uk/cprpetition

Additional key statistics:

  • The majority  of the UK public (61%) would not feel confident performing CPR on a family member or loved one, despite being most likely to see a cardiac arrest at home
  • Almost half (46%) would be deterred by the ‘fear of causing more harm than good’
  • Four in ten (40%) people lack the knowledge and skills to act
  • Nearly three in five (57%) people admit that most people in Britain would look for someone else to take the lead if they were to witness a medical emergency
  • Almost half (44%) thought cardiac arrest and heart attack were different terms to describe the same condition
  • More than one in ten (11%) have never heard of the term CPR
  • Over four in ten (43%) wrongly thought that CPR becomes is effective for only up to15 minutes

How do you solve a problem like Fuel Poverty?

I recently wrote a blog about my proposal for a Fuel Poverty Champion in Government.

You can read my blog here.

A full report on the topic can be found in this collection of essays.

Parliamentary Update – 26th September 2014

This week: Referendum result and air strikes vote

John Robertson MP calls for an end to “game of chance” bus service for blind people

Getting off at the right bus stop is like “playing a game of chance”, says guide dog owner Linda, about her experiences navigating the bus network without sight.

Mr Robertson got a chance to experience for himself why people with sight loss need audio-visual announcements (AV) on buses, through playing a memory game, at the Labour Party Conference this week.

AV is essential for people with sight loss to live independently, yet only one fifth of the UK’s buses have AV. Without AV bus passengers with sight loss have to ask the driver to remember to tell them when they have reached their stop.

Finding out more about Guide Dogs’ work, Mr Robertson heard that 7 in 10 bus passengers with sight loss have been forgotten by a bus driver. For a sighted person, missing a stop is an annoyance, but for someone with sight loss, it is potentially very dangerous.

Mr Robertson commented:

“Remembering the journeys at Guide Dogs’ conference stand was a great way of emphasising how difficult it is for a bus driver to always remember to tell people when to get off. AV is such a simple solution and would ensure access for all to a form of public transport that is so vital to people’s everyday lives.”

James White, Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs commented:

“Guide dogs do fantastic work getting people out and about safely, and the lack of AV acts as a real barrier to their independence. That’s why we’re urging politicians like Mr Robertson to call for the mandatory installation of AV on buses, something that is cheap to do.”

AV doesn’t just help people with sight loss – tourists, older people and infrequent bus users all find AV useful. Guide Dogs released their Destination Unknown report this September showing that nearly half of survey respondents said they would use the bus more frequently if it had AV.

Read Harry Smith’s Speech

I was moved by the very powerful speech Harry Smith, 91-year-old veteran NHS campaigner, made at Labour Party Conference. You can watch it here, or read it below.

Harry Leslie Smith, speaking in the Health and Care debate at Labour’s Annual Conference in Manchester, said:

I came into this world in the rough and ready year of 1923. I am from Barnsley and I can tell you, that my childhood like so many others from that era was not an episode from Downton Abbey. Instead, it was a barbarous time, it was a bleak time, and it was an uncivilized time because public healthcare didn’t exist.

Back then Hospitals, doctors and medicine were for the privilege few because they were run for profit rather than as vital state service that keeps a nations citizens and workers fit and healthy

My memories stretch back almost a hundred years and if I close my eyes I can smell the poverty that oozed from the dusky tenement streets of my boyhood.

I can taste on my lips the bread and drippings I was served for my tea. I can remember extreme hunger, and my parent’s undying love for me. In my heart

I can still feel my mum and dad’s desperation as they tried to keep our family save and healthy in the slum we called home.

Poor mum and dad, no matter how hard they tried to protect me and my sisters the cards were stacked against them because common diseases trolled our neighbourhoods and snuffed out life like a cold breath on a warm candle flame.

I still remember hearing while I played as a child on my street the anguished cries that floated from a window on my boyhood street. They were the screams from a woman dying from cancer who couldn’t afford morphine to ease her passage from this life.

No one in our community was safe from poor health, sickness and disease. In our home, TB came for my oldest sister Marion who was the apple of my dad’s eye. It is why her sickness and his inability to pay for her medicine or the best care broke his heart.

Tuberculosis tortured my sister and left her an invalid that had to be restrained with ropes tied to her bed. My parents did everything in their power to keep Marion alive and comfortable but they just didn’t have the dosh to get her to the best clinics, doctors or medicines. Instead she wasted away before our eyes until my mother could no longer handle her care and she was dispatched to our Work House infirmary where she died 87 years ago. Mum and dad couldn’t afford to bury their darling daughter so, like the rest of our country’s indigent she was dumped nameless into a pauper’s pit.

My family’s story isn’t unique; sadly, rampant poverty, and no health care were the norm for the Britain of my youth. That injustice galvanized my generation to become after the Second World War the tide that raised all boats.

It is why for me in 1945, after a long hard Great Depression and a savage and brutal war, at the age of 22 and still in the RAF I voted for the first time.

Election Day 1945 was one of the was of the proudest days in my life I felt that I was finally getting a chance to grab destiny by the shirt collar and that is why

I voted for Labour and the creation of the NHS.

As I stand here today, my heart is with all of those people from my generation who didn’t make it past childhood, didn’t get an education, grow as individuals, marry, raise a family and enjoy the fruits of retirement because they died needlessly and too early in another era of austerity. But my heart is also with the people of the present, who, because of welfare cuts and austerity measures, are struggling once more to make ends meet, and whose futures I fear for.

Today, we must be vigilant, we must be vocal, we must demand that the NHS will always remain an institution for the people and by the people. We must never ever let the NHS free from our grasp because if we do your future will be my past. I am not a politician, a member of the elite or a financial guru, but my life is your history – and we should keep it that way. So say it loud and say it clear in this hall and across this country: Mr Cameron, keep your mitts off my NHS.

Naming Ceremony for HMS Queen Elizabeth

I recently attended the naming ceremony of the new HMS Queen Elizabeth. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was there for the official naming.

This was a wonderful feat of engineering for all six yards, both north and south of the border. I want to pass on my congratulations to all those who worked on it, and in particular, the 2000 employees at Scotstoun yard.

Here are a few photos from the event, with MPs representing the constituencies holding the other two Scottish yards, Ian Davidson MP (Govan) and Thomas Docherty MP (Rosyth), among others.

John Robertson MP on board with Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign

John Robertson MP showed his support for a campaign led by the charity Guide Dogs to make travelling by bus easier for people with sight loss.

The MP for Glasgow North West went to a reception at the Houses of Parliament on 2 July in support of Guide Dogs’ campaign to make sure all new buses have audio visual (AV) next stop announcements, which are vital for blind and partially sighted bus travellers.

The reception, which was addressed by Bus Minister Baroness Kramer, highlighted how announcements enable blind and partially sighted people to understand their location, and prevent them from missing their stops.

AV systems are only fitted to around one fifth of the bus fleet nationally, with the overwhelming majority of these buses operating in London.

Guide Dogs is calling for the Government to require all new buses be fitted with AV, as currently bus operators are under no obligation to include this technology when upgrading their fleet.

John Robertson MP said: “Blind or partially sighted people in Glasgow and across the UK are reliant on our buses, and we should be doing all we can to make public transport accessible to them. We all know the anxiety caused from ending up somewhere unfamiliar, and this can be all the more concerning to people with sight loss. I think this is an essential campaign from Guide Dogs.”

James White, Guide Dog’s Campaigns Manager, said: “Buses are a lifeline for people who are blind or partially sighted, and we welcome the support of John Robertson MP for people with sight loss to be able to travel safely and independently.”

“Without AV, bus travel for people with sight loss can be especially difficult, stressful, and dangerous when stops are missed and they end up in an unfamiliar area.”

“Safe and accessible bus services give people with sight loss much greater freedom to work, socialise and participate in the community.”

A message on Armed Forces Day

Today on Armed Forces Day people up and down the country will gather to recognise, remember and pay tribute to the sacrifices made by the British Armed Forces community.

Our Service personnel work around the world in some of the most dangerous situations to defend Britain’s interests and national security. Just like those before them, they do so with unequivocal commitment, enduring professionalism and resolute courage.

But the sacrifice associated with military life is rarely endured alone – we must not forget the impact on the friends and families of those who serve too. They provide invaluable support to loved ones away from home and the contribution they make to local communities should never be underestimated.

Update from Westminster – 19th June 2014

This week: Referendum news and Energy

Local MP John Robertson supports drive to reach carers in Glasgow North West


John Robertson MP has pledged his support to carers across Glasgow North West as part of the national awareness campaign Carers Week, which runs from June 9 to 15.

One in eight adults are carers, but the very nature of caring – of being there for a loved one facing ill health or disability – means too often people don’t identify themselves as carers and, therefore, miss out on support.

Without the right help and support, caring can have a serious impact on their physical and emotional health, work and finances.

Carers Week Quest 2014 is calling on individuals and organisations across the UK – including community groups, GPs, health and social care professionals, employers – to connect with families in their local communities who are providing care.

To show their support for local carers, John Robertson MP met with the Carers Week supporter charities in Parliament – including Carers UK, Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, MS Society and Parkinson’s UK.

Local MP, John Robertson, said: “Carers make a hugely valuable contribution to society and they need support to carry on the work they do – without carers the UK would face a £119 billion care bill. That is why I am supporting this campaign to reach out to carers across Glasgow North West and help ensure they don’t miss out on support.”

A spokesperson for Carers Week said: “By individuals and organisations working together during Carers Week we have a huge opportunity to help thousands of carers and get them support which can mean the difference between coping and crisis.”

Events will be taking place across the UK during Carers Week in June, to provide carers with advice, information and support with caring. To find out more about events in Glasgow North West visit: www.carersweek.org

– Carers Week 2014 runs from Monday 9 to Sunday 15 June.

– Carers Week is an annual UK-wide awareness campaign which takes place to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers. It is also a time of intensive local activity with thousands of events planned for carers right across the UK. In 2013 more than 2,600 organisations registered to take part in the campaign.

– Across the UK 6.5 million – 1 in 8 people – are caring for a loved one who is older, disabled, terminally or seriously ill. As the population ages, the number of carers is rising fast. By 2037 Carers UK estimates that the number of carers will have risen to 9 million.

– Carers Week is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, MS Society, Parkinson’s UK, Skills for Care and the Stroke Association.