This year the advertising campaign was cancelled by the new government as part of the cuts. The number of people having the vaccine has fallen this year following the cancellation of the advertising campaign. In the last few weeks, there has been a significant increase in the number of people dying of flu so the government has decided to bring back the adverts.
This issue was brought to my attention by a constituent who cares for his elderly parents.
One of the reasons given by the government for not advertising the vaccination was that GPs call all their at risk patients so the advert is a waste of time and money. My constituent tells a rather different story.
He was not called by the GP despite being on the at risk list. He cares for his elderly parents and he was told that his GP does not call carers although government guidance is that they should. His mother is housebound so needs the district nurse to visit with her flu jab.
The GP did phone her, so far, so good. But the GP surgery failed to tell the district nurse.
Another constituent told me that he worries that many people simply will not follow up to make sure that they receive the vaccination. His mother has had her flu jab but he worries that when GPs are forced to take over their own commissioning the bureaucracy will make it even less likely that national policies like flu vaccination will be followed.
One question for the government is how many GPs are following the policy and how well is it applied? How many vulnerable people receive their vaccinations and how many miss out because GPs are either overworked or just make mistakes or decide not to call people?
These may be isolated examples or they may be two of many examples. Either way, the number of flu deaths means that we can't afford to take risks. That's why its important that the government does advertise flu jabs each year, something that did happen in Scotland back in the autumn but not in England.
There is still time to have a flu jab and I would urge people to speak to their GP about whether they should have a jab. The current flu outbreak is hitting younger people and children can be especially vulnerable. The cuts are starting to bite but surely cutting advertising about flu vaccinations is one cut too far.
The main topic that people have contacted me about recently is the snow and ice. One constituent in Lydiate told me that they wanted me to shout loudly about the approach taken by Sefton Council and the fact that many main roads were not cleared let alone side roads.
I have called for an enquiry by the council and by the leading councillors.
People have told me that the grit was sold to Cheshire County Council, that gritting lorries were sent out empty to pretend that the council were gritting the roads and that the roads in Liverpool were cleared by snow ploughs while ours were not. The roads were clear once people crossed the boundary into Liverpool at Aintree so there could well be some truth in the allegations. Either way, Sefton needs to do better next time.
Another issue raised with me is the government’s plans to privatise the Post Office and close post office branches. This will lead to a cut in services and I believe that our post offices are at the heart of the community. They provide a service and a focal point which cannot be measured just in terms of profit and loss.
As one constituent told me, post offices are important for families but they also are vital for small businesses who would suffer without the network we have at the moment. I will be opposing efforts to privatise the Post Office and will fight post office closures.
It's another cut too far.