Many of you have contacted me over the last week to raise your concerns about the situation in the English Channel and at Manston in Kent where migrants are processed after arriving in the UK. You may have seen on the news that the Home Secretary visited migrant processing facilities, confirming steps to improve the situation on the ground immediately, while we do whatever it takes to crack down on small boats crossing the Channel. We have too many people coming to the UK for economic reasons, which is putting huge pressure on our processing capacity for genuine asylum claims. It is vital that we dismantle the international criminal gangs behind the global migration crisis – whilst ensuring the safety of local communities, our asylum processing teams, and the people in our care. That is why the Home Secretary went to see first-hand how we are working to reduce the number of people in Manston, ease pressures and support people there while tackling the business model of people smugglers to ensure the illegal migration route across our Channel is rendered unviable. We are working urgently to protect our borders, provide immediate care to vulnerable people, and deliver an immigration system that works in the interests of the British people, ensuring that people who are here illegally for economic reasons are removed. These issues can seem a long way from North Cornwall, but it is a national concern that we must address because of the impact it has on the entire country.
There have been significant difficulties with NHS dentistry since the introduction of contracts in 2006. In my time in office, I have held meetings with dentists in North Cornwall and the wider South West region, the NHS and of course, the patients themselves. We have identified some of the key factors that contribute to the issue, including recruitment and retention of staff within local dentistry. It can be difficult to bring the staff we need in Cornwall due to the housing pressures we also face, and I have has put forward suggested courses of action such as key-worker housing within new developments to be set aside for NHS staff. The impact of the pandemic has also been detrimental to dentistry across the UK. Earlier this year the government delivered £50 million in additional funding to provide up to 350,000 extra appointments, with local NHS teams using the funds to secure increased care capacity. Dentists have told me that the NHS Dental contract requires reform. I have held direct meetings with the Secretary of State and the Minister responsible for dentistry on several occasions since 2019 to feed this back to Westminster. I am very pleased that initial reforms to the contract have been delivered this year. This will be an ongoing process, but I am confident we are heading in the right direction.